TIRANA-DURRES LOWLINE (2014)
Leapfrogging mobility in Albania
Lowline is a thesis project that came forth of a collaboration between the University of Leuven, the municipality of Tirana, 51N4E and Granstudio. It investigates new mobility solutions for the underdeveloped Tirana-Durres area (Albania).
The Tirana region is an opportunity for a leapfrog passage from an obsolete to a hyper-performant mobility.
Albania is an area that is geographically close but that does not (yet) entirely embody urbanism in a European-style zoning, and where spontaneous solutions fill in for ‘gaps’ in structure and regulation. As such, it becomes also one where newer and less mechanical technologies would help create a real opportunity for a leapfrog passage from an obsolete to a hyper-performant mobility, past the over-defined, infrastructure-dominated city model of the ‘developed’ part of the world.
WHAT WE DID
We supervised the thesis project, and organised an extensive workshop in Turin around the topic of urban mobility.
The thesis was a graduation project of Wouter Haspeslagh, currently Urbanism & Mobility Senior at Granstudio.
DEFINE : In order to develop a clear reading of the location/context, we organised a 12-day intensive field trip to the region Durrës - Tirana - Elbasan. Every local day trip was strategically selected and linked to a different mode of transportation with a certain spatial radius. In this way we were able to grasp the user-experience of every transport system combined with the discovery of the territorial characteristics.
We wrote a manifesto, created a glossary of factors, analysed spatial configurations, drew maps, and examined future projects. This would lead to 3 hypotheses, which were further developed into 5 testcases. Lowline is one of those testcases.
DESIGN: While the highway focuses on the big scale with its fast movements and large numbers, the lowline is designed as a valuable softer alternative that ensures social coherence. It reaches out and connects the communities along a disused railway track, gives them an address - a distinct identity - and links their most important public features. The line itself is structured through new intermodal centres: places where activities are grouped together. These nodes are strategically located and at reasonable intervals. The project assumes a new type of vehicle that is complementary with the conventional highway users.
DEVELOP: Although the thesis served as a reference document for other publications, the project is not developed physically.
In the course of time, mechanical technologies have shaped the vehicles, the vehicle infrastructure, but also, indirectly, public spaces, economic spaces, the way people live, work, and socialize. We need to research possible reconnections between these specialized fields; there are gains to discover in looking across disciplines and in sharing infrastructure between functions.
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