Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture has revealed its winning design for the two-phased international competition to design and restore Albania's Besa Museum. The site was chosen by the Ministry of Culture of Albania because of its location in the "Toptani Residence in Albania’s lively capital city, Tirana, which showcased it as a historical monument that is meant to be preserved and respected. The Toptani Residence itself is a critical part of Albanian history, named for one of the country’s most historic families."
The museum project, which is set to be Albania's newest cultural institution, aims to "honor the nation’s rich cultural heritage and welcoming spirit." Out of 40 design entries, Oppenheim Architecture's European office was selected for its approach to honoring the country's history. The firm shares the name of the museum comes from the Albania concept of Besa, which is "a sacred principle that represents the given word, or one's honor to host and protect any guest and welcome them as one of your own, and demonstrate the core of the Albanian way."
The firm's design process began with connecting and engaging with local restoration experts, historians that specialized in Ottoman and Albania architecture/culture, a museologist, and Albanologists. After learning and discussing ways to approach the museum's design needs and restoration process the firm also collaborated with Ralph Appelbaum Associates, a specialty firm that assisted in the Oppenheim Architecture team to "meet the unique requirements of the museum."
Using the existing Toptani Residence located on the project's site, the firm aimed to create a two-part museum experience. The first part of the museum is located above ground within the existing residence that takes visitors through the home to help narrate Besa's history and cultural significance, while the second part of the museum is located underground. Another important addition are four, bright red, monolithic pillars that represent the "tradition, protection, hospitality, and honor" of Albania.
Beat Huesler (Director of Oppenheim Architecture Europe) explained, "Since beginning our work in Albania a few years ago, we have been inspired by the culture and vibrancy of its people. We hope that our vision for the Besa Museum will use architecture as a tool to illustrate the Albanian people’s deep love and respect for their heritage and one another [...] We want to leverage the power of the existing house, having it as a site of exhibits and an exhibit itself.”
"The spaces serve as testimonies to the Albanian way of life, with the Oppenheim team proposing a restoration of the rooms and art in order to highlight historical and current events during which Besa has guided Albania; notably, welcoming of Jews during the Holocaust, as well as Kosovar and Afghan refugees in contemporary times."
Explore interior images of the museum below.
View additional drawings and plans of the project in our image gallery.
Comment as :