The Dutch company named MVRDV was founded in 1993. MVRDV stands for the initials of the founding members. The Skanderbeg Building is one of their continuing projects that has drawn interest from architecture connoisseurs and other people. The structure, which will have a variety of uses, will be located in Albania. It is modeled after Gjergj Kastrioti (1405–1468), the nation’s national hero, and is well-known by Skanderbeg. Skanderbeg is regarded highly in Albania as a result of the conflicts he waged for Albania’s independence from other European countries, notably the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. He is highly valued in Albania since he has contributed significantly to the history and conception of the country. 

Mixed-Use Building in Albania shaped after the country's National Hero unveiled by MVRDV - Sheet1
The 85 meters tall Skanderbeg Building_©MVRDV

The project would occupy the oddly shaped Skanderbeg Square, the central public plaza in the core of Tirana, and would be both functional and living artwork. If there is anything that mimics an enormous live marble bust architecturally, we can all agree to disagree that it is the Skanderbeg structure.

Mixed-Use Building in Albania shaped after the country's National Hero unveiled by MVRDV - Sheet2
The Skanderbeg building in its context_ ©MVRDV

Figurative conceptual approach 

Instead of adding yet another monotonous skyscraper to the already numerous sprawling ones, MVRDV decided to dwell in the post-communist Renaissance architectural style that Albania already basks within. This style of architecture entails a tradition of mixing art and architecture, and the city has been very receptive to that aesthetic.

As ANA sh. p.k. and VI&VI sh. p.k. funded the project, and MVRDV was able to elevate the national hero of Albania to a whole new level. At first glance, the proposal might not appear to be an obvious representation of a person. Still, when one considers the firm’s detailed description, which is as follows:”… his shoulders align with the widest part of the site, while his head is turned to the right, facing the square that carries his name. His shoulders align with the widest part of the site, while his head is turned to the right, facing the square that carries his name,” one can quickly grasp and comprehend the idea behind the design’s intended outcome. A modest attempt at an architectural optical illusion, the project’s contours look better the further you are from it. Every level of the structure is covered with balconies, with curving protrusions serving as basic facial features. These balconies give the building’s inner rooms a more sensible design while giving residents a sizable quantity of precious, shaded outdoor space.

Mixed-Use Building in Albania shaped after the country's National Hero unveiled by MVRDV - Sheet3
Top View of floor level compilation_©MVRDV
Mixed-Use Building in Albania shaped after the country's National Hero unveiled by MVRDV - Sheet4
Concept development and architectural programing_© MVRDV
Mixed-Use Building in Albania shaped after the country's National Hero unveiled by MVRDV - Sheet5
Concept development and architectural programing_©MVRDV

Skanderbeg building functional adaptability 

The sculpture-like structure has no basement unit; it rises 81.45 meters above the ground with floor levels ranging from 0 to 24. The MVRDV’s architectural programming consists of one level of commercial space, four levels of offices located at the bottom of the building, and twenty floors of residential apartments. The irregular shape of this building required a carefully thought-out plan to make every floor level as functional as possible. Each facility’s balconies are divided by built-in planters.

What would a design from the twenty-first century be without some mention of sustainability? In that regard, the company included various elements that make the Skanderbeg building as climate-resistant as possible. A large portion of the building’s carbon footprint is reduced because of the expansive overhanging balconies, which also provide natural cross ventilation, plants that enhance the cooling effect, a system for collecting and reusing rainwater, and a heat recovery system.

Mixed-Use Building in Albania shaped after the country's National Hero unveiled by MVRDV - Sheet6
Rear view of The Skanderbeg building in contrast with surrounding_©MVRDV
Back Street view of balconies with glass balustrades_© MVRDV

It’s essential to point out that the project’s construction has officially begun. With every new project it completes, the well-known Rotterdam company remains unpredictable, with no one project appearing precisely like the one before it. The structure will serve as a significant landmark for Tirana in Albania and will be one of the most prominent structures ever to be constructed. In one of MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas’s words: “These days, cities around the world increasingly look like each other – I always encourage them to resist this, to find their character and emphasize it”. Those statements succinctly summarize the firm’s reluctance to adopt a specific architectural style’s comfort zone or box and promote fresh creative viewpoints instead. In conclusion, severe criticism will be leveled at any undertaking of this size.

Reference:

  1. MVRDV – Skanderbeg Building. Mvrdv.nl. [online]. Available at: https://www.mvrdv.nl/projects/461/skanderbeg-building [Accessed date: 05/08/2022].
Author

Nadjath is an architecture graduate, traveler, and part-time freelance writer. She believes that the built and unbuilt environments are more than just about form and function. In a fast-growing culture where people are reading less and less, she is enthusiastic about transmitting the essence of architecture via words.

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