Casanova+Hernandez architects | A124_Museum Of The Adriatic Cultures


A124_Museum Of The Adriatic Cultures

Durres, Albania

Durres, with more than 200.000 inhabitants, is after Bari, Venice and Trieste in Italy the fourth most populated city of the Adriatic Sea. Placing the Museum of the Adriatic Cultures in Durres, will underline the historical importance of Durres and its harbor and will promote its name as an important tourist destination of the Adriatic.

A contemporary museum will also reinforce the international image of Durres as a tourist destination with a modern cultural infrastructure, also related to its cultural heritage.

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Cultural landmark: hybrid building that mixes recreational, tourist & cultural facilities

The Adriatic Window is one of the main cultural interventions of the Albania Park. It is located at the front of the Waterfront Plaza and works as a new tourist attraction for the city of Durres.

It is a hybrid building that combines a viewing platform on the top with views over the Adriatic Sea, the Museum of the

Adriatic Cultures inside, and an outdoor auditorium at the exterior with a stage covered by the building.

Sculptural volume: mix of a real & a virtual window

The Adriatic Window is conceived as a double window, with a real and a virtual dimension. The Real Window frames the views over the Adriatic Sea and the Durres Port. The Virtual Window explains visitors through exhibitions the historical relationship between the city of Durres, the Adriatic sea and its civilizations. Both, the real and the virtual window are merged into a sculptural volume with symbolic connotations.

Cultural identity: alphabets as a symbol of the adriatic cultural mix

The alphabets used by different civilizations who have inhabited the Adriatic Sea along the history serve as a symbol to represent the cultural mix that characterized this part of the Mediterranean sea.

Different civilizations brought their own writing systems and influenced the others. The similarities and differences between alphabets serve also as a metaphor of the similarities and differences among the different cultures of the Adriatic sea.

Particularly, the many different Alphabets used in Albania along its history serve as a symbol of the rich cultural mix of Albania and the strong cultural relations that the Adriatic sea has provided to the different countries.

The alphabets used in Albania and the Adriatic Sea provide also a strong graphic element that will be a source of inspiration to design different parts of the building and the exhibitions.

Iconic building: sculptural volume (window) + cultural identity (alphabet skin)

The Adriatic Window is conceived as the main iconic building of Albania Park. The icon is formed by the combination of two differentiated parts:

1. The Window that works as a bridge-building suspended on top of two side towers. It forms a void in the middle that frames the Adriatic sea as a window.

2. The Cultural Mix that is symbolized by the mix of different alphabets used in the Adriatic sea including the Albanian ones. It works as a tattooed skin that covers the volume of the building.

Like any tattoo, it is an aesthetic graphic element that differentiates the Adriatic Window from other constructions, but it also projects at the same time a multicultural message related to the cultural and educative content of the building.

Both together, the Window and the Cultural Mix, the volume and the skin, the content and the symbolism, form the symbiotic tandem that characterizes this iconic cultural building.

The window as a place-making tool

The history of the site is strongly linked to the Adriatic Sea and the Durres Port. During the Illyrians time, Durres was already an important harbour of the Adriatic. The Romans transformed Durres port into the Adriatic gate to the Balkans by connecting Rome and Brindisi in Italy with Durres and Byzantium through the Via Egnatia located a few meters away from the site.

The port of Durres has been the arrival point of many civilizations that made trading and cultural exchange flourish. Nowadays, Durres is the largest port of Albania and one of the most important ports in the Adriatic sea not only because of its commercial trade, but also because its ferry and cruise terminals that handle more than 1.5 million passengers per year.

Positioning the museum in this location, in front of the Adriatic sea and Durres port, and near the Via Egnatia and the historic battlefields locations, allows establishing visual and conceptual relationships between the content of the Museum and the place where history happened. This link between content and place not only reinforces the specificity, originality and narrative of the museum, but also reinforces the sense of place by preserving the collective memory.

Viewing platform with panoramic views over historical places

The roof terrace of the Adriatic Window works as a panoramic viewing platform that offers visitors 360 degrees views over the surroundings. In every direction, there are important places characterized by a rich history. Among them, especially remarkable are Saint Michael Basilica in Arapaj, Via Egnatia, Kavaje Rock, the Roman amphitheater of Durres, Durres Port, the commercial routes crossing the Adriatic sea and the Battle of Otranto during World War I.

Viewing platform with interpretation of the history of the place

The viewing platform provides resting areas and the interpretation of the views. It is conceived as an outdoor exhibition entitled “Durres Port & the Adriatic Sea” and informs visitors about the rich history of the site. The interpretation project will combine real views over the surroundings, historical data and images to provide a deep understanding of the physical and historical context together with the importance of Durres in the development of the culture around the Adriatic sea.

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Albanian Development Fund (ADF) / Municipality of Durres
Definitive phase approved
3296 m2