Reflecting on modern Albanian architecture, a theme apparently limited from a geographic and temporal point of view offers the opportunity to address substantial issues concerning architecture, such as its birth from ideologies and the ability to survive them, the relationship of architects with the authorities, the import of external models and their adaptation to local culture. Foundations of towns and villages, rural reclamation, factories, mines, power plants, bunkers, public buildings, monuments, memorials: the conspicuous evidence of the construction of modern Albania has come to us as a legacy that is difficult to interpret and awkward to manage The strength of architecture lies in its ability to survive the clients and the programs that generated it. Chronicles and theaters of real life are gradually transformed into documents and pages of the buildings’ history, acquiring a shared memory value. But above all, the physical body of architecture is perpetually destined to regenerate itself by welcoming new functions and new rituals, each time returning its material essence to renewed communities and becoming part of new socioeconomic assets and new urban geographies. However, this is not an automatic and linear process, it is rather the result of ‘negotiated’ choices that bring into play the ‘conflicting values’ of the heritage (cfr. Riegl, 2011). After the Italian colonial interlude, Albanian architecture from the Second World War until the end of the 1980s can be conceived in the broader picture of the events that have affected Eastern Europe. It is known that for about 70 years in the Soviet Union and the allied countries, the centrally controlled building production and professional practice was implemented, where architects played the role of technicians and consultants, working collectively at state planning offices or governmental enterprises. But if we look beyond this rigid normalizing ‘curtain’, we discover multiform experiences developed to the most peripheral edges of the Soviet Bloc.
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