Tirana’s Communist-Era Pyramid to Become Tech Hub

The Dutch architecture and urbanism practice MVRDV has revealed bold plans to transform a pyramid in the Albanian capital Tirana into a multi-functional centre for technology, culture and art. The project, which is expected to be completed by June 2019, has the backing of both Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj, as well as the Albanian-American Development Fund (AADF).

“This project will completely change the current building, putting it in the service of innovation, technology, art and culture, not only for Albania but for the entire region,” said Mr Veliaj.

The Tirana Pyramid, completed in 1988, is located in the centre of the Albanian capital and was originally built to house a museum dedicated to communist leader Enver Hoxha. The building – designed by a group of architects including Mr Hoxha’s architect daughter, Panvera Hoxha – has since then undergone several transformations, even serving as a temporary base for NATO during the Balkan Wars. After that it saw use as nightclub and event space.

The pyramid has a unique silhouette which gives it a strong physical presence in its locale, and it has long served as a prominent gathering point for numerous social and political events. In recent years however it has gone into decay, although this has not stopped it from becoming a favourite spot for the many young people who congregate on its roof.  MVRDV’s concept embraces this use and makes the roof officially available to all. The dark interior is set to become an open, bright and green technology education centre.

“Though in the past, there were plans to transform this monumental building into a national theatre, this never materialised which left this fantastic building in ruin for more than a decade,” said Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV. “The pyramid of Tirana will rise again by becoming a new centre of technology and learning for young people.”

The new building will be run by TUMO, a new kind of learning programme set up by the AADF through which teenagers are in charge of their own education at the intersection of technology and design.

Photo: MVRDV