Coop Himmelb(l)au spins democratic ideals into bold governmental architecture.
TIRANA (AL) - With a design expressly incorporating democratic values such as openness, transparency and public co-determination, the new parliamentary building in Albania's capital by Coop Himmelb(l)au will fuse the various functions of what is arguably the country's most important public building with an aesthetic that is both dynamic and contemporary. The ensemble, with its massive sculptural cones and floating concrete and glazed forms, will be compact enough (a 13,100 m2 footprint on a total site area of 28,000 m2) to allow for a park and public forum integrated on site, yet at the same time its design anticipates a compelling gesture in the city's urban fabric. The programmatic attention given to both active and passive energy optimization in the building contributes to its topicality, and, in a rather symbolic urban design strategy, its divergent architectural elements are intercut with layers of transparency in a radical and ungainly – yet still somehow balanced – structural composition. Construction is slated to begin this year. (Dutton R. Hauhart)
As the future political centre of the Albanian Republic, the Open Parliament of Albania creates an outstanding architectural landmark in one of the main parts of Tirana's urban fabric. Situated along the compositional axis of the city, it is located in vicinity to the major governmental institutions.
The new parliamentary building for the Republic of Albania is designed to capture the natural resources and energy flows of its surroundings and employ them to provide optimal environmental conditions for its occupants. The spatial configuration of the building form and the optimization of the building envelope, together with the use of renewable energy sources, ensure an energy efficient design and reduce dependence on fossil fuel energy sources.
The Parliament of Albania is envisaged as a reinforced concrete building that consists of two distinct structural units: firstly, a base area which above ground comprises two floor levels plus a parking sector with three levels, and one basement level; secondly, a separate office block with five floors elevated on four cores above the base. The main part of the base stretches from ground level to 9 metres above ground. Its floor area amounts to roughly 12,500 m2 per floor. The second structural volume of 60 × 70 metres winds around a courtyard. Each of its five storeys has a height of 3.7 metres. Between the base and the upper building unit is a horizontal gap of 7 metres, which is bridged by the four building cores. In addition to the concrete structures described above, the project contains two sculptural cones. Both are structurally independent and carry their loads to the foundation at ground level. One is situated near an outer corner of the base structure and reaches a height of 35 metres, the other one lies inside the courtyard of the elevated part with a height of approximately 50 metres.
Spatially, the new parliamentary chamber reflects a basic democratic principle, the power of the electorate, by situating the public above the elected assembly members while placing the chamber hall at the physical and metaphorical centre of the building ensemble, a glazed cone that also stands for the transparency of the legislation.
A common plinth building assembles the differentiated building elements and occupies mainly the northern part of the site, thus underlining the prominent urban situation at the crossing of the two compositional axes of the city. This strategy creates a vast public forum and park between the parliament and the facilities of the prime minister.
A public stair leads from the public forum to the landscaped roof of the plinth building that unites all the different building elements of the design: office block, entrance structure and parliamentary hall. From the plinth the public is able to look into the parliamentary hall even from the outside. The main entrance is designed as a massive cone, which creates an impressive space and acts as the counterpart to the glazed parliamentary hall.
The office building is covered with a second skin made of perforated steel that is specially configured to improve building performance related to optimum daylight use, views, solar control, glare protection, thermal insulation, natural ventilation and noise protection. The exact configuration of the envelope form and the degree of skin perforation varies according to the orientation of the building elevations towards the sun.
Wednesday | 6 April | 2011 | Albania | Coop Himmelb(l)au