Busting the Scales: From Small-Scale Informal to Investor-Driven Urban Developments. The Case of Tirana/Albania





Faculty/Professorship: Geographical Migration and Transition Studies  
Author(s): Göler, Daniel  ; Doka, Dhimitër
Title of the Journal: Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Geographischen Gesellschaft : MÖGG ; Jahresband
ISSN: 0029-9138
Corporate Body: Österreichische Geographische Gesellschaft
Publisher Information: Wien : Österreichische Geographische Gesellschaft
Year of publication: 2020
Volume: 162
Pages: 65-90
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1553/moegg162s65
Abstract: 
Tirana, the Albanian capital, started its urban transition processes after the fall of com-munism in a rather small-scale and mostly informal manner. Three decades later, urban development in the metropolis with its tripled population has generally formalised. The built fabric experienced a metamorphosis into a globalised urban structure. During the last years, a certain number of megaprojects (in Albanian terms) arose in the city, such as mixed-use skyscrapers, high-rise apartment buildings and big shopping malls or other commercial buildings. In this context, three topics seem to be of urban geographic interest. The first is the overwhelming scalar dimension of the projects as well as the randomness of function and design. Tirana’s skyline shows more and more elements of globalised structures, but from an organisational point of view there is no corresponding functional internationalisation, for example, via the global financial market. In fact, quite the opposite is true: both the investors and the capital are mainly of Albanian origin. In such contexts, the powerful role and position of national elites, the second topic, may not come as a surprise. The key players seem to be very close to politics; sometimes political representatives are actively involved. Overall, there is no transparency in decision-making. Finally, it is highly problematic that some of the large urban developments are organised as public-private partnerships. In such cases, the public sector provides the property, applies for approval and then transfers the responsibility to private developers. This model fosters urban development and renewal, but at the same time, the profits will be privatised. All in all, we note in Tirana – and with a grain of salt this is true for the ex-socialist period as a whole – an urbanism of exception that can only be partially explained with common theoretical approaches, but rather requires an appropriate consideration of the evolutionary background, thus a relational perspective. We take up the concept of the “ordinary city” and discuss the scope of socialism and post-socialism as explanatory concepts.
GND Keywords: Tirana; Verstädterung; Stadtplanung; Geschichte 1990-2020
Keywords: urban growth, urbanisation, large urban developments, transition, post-socialist urbanism, Albania, Tirana
DDC Classification: 910 Geography & travel  
RVK Classification: RP 50630   
Type: Article
URI: https://fis.uni-bamberg.de/handle/uniba/49954
Release Date: 14. June 2021