In Tirana, constructions have been made in areas declared cultural monuments, contrary to what Mayor Erion Veliaj declares. The official confirmation comes from the institution of the municipality itself, refuting the claim that in 8 years no construction permit has been granted in these areas. From 2018 to 2020, by order of Veliaj, 5 construction permits were issued in areas declared cultural monuments. The architects point out that they are acting with hypocrisy because in the terminology they stay faithful to the charters and conventions, but give up on the applicability and methodology of these principles. Meanwhile, citizens express concern that Tirana is losing its identity.
On February 5 of this year, the mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, stated that in 8 years no construction permit had been granted in the areas that have been declared cultural monuments.
“In 8 years, we have not given any construction permits in the spaces that have been declared cultural monuments”, emphasized Mayor Veliaj during a television interview.
Based on this statement, Faktoje addressed a request for information to the Municipality of Tirana, where we asked if construction permits were granted in the years 2015-2023 in the areas declared cultural monuments and if there was construction during this time period in these areas.
Request for information sent to Tirana Municipality, February 6, 2023
We received an answer to this issue from the Municipality on March 9, almost a month later, and only after complaining to the Commissioner for the Right to Information. Officially, the Municipality of Tirana admits that there have been constructions near areas declared cultural monuments. This institution also lists some of the facilities built in these areas.
“In response to your letter, by means of which you request information about the construction permits approved during the years 2015-2023 near the areas declared cultural monuments, we clarify that in the vicinity of the area declared ‘Historical Center of Tirana’, construction permits have been approved, by decision of the Mayor of Tirana, as follows:
- No. X-27570/7, dated 02.02.2019, for the ‘Eyes of Tirana’ multifunctional building, 6, 8, 9, 13, 18, and 24 floors, with 4 underground floors, (Phase 1) at the intersection of ‘Kavaja’ street and “Durres” road, based on the Development Permit approved by Decision no. 11, dated 12.12.2017 of the National Council of the Territory.
- No. A-29978/7, dated 18.03.2019 for the Approval of the construction permit for the object “Expansion of the accommodation capacities and services of Tirana International Hotel, with a side extension and a tower with a destination hotel and tourist services center”, on the street “Urani Pano”, Administrative Unit no. 9, Tirana”, explains the Municipality of Tirana.
Also, part of the list, according to the official answer, is:
“3. No. S-20284, dated 26.01.2020 for the approval of the construction permit for ‘Tirana’s Rock’ residential and service building, 25 floors with 5 floors of underground parking, on the street of ‘Dibra’.
- No. I-24484/5, dated 05.12.2018 for the approval of the building permit for the ‘Multifunctional building (hotel, service, and residential) 4, 5, 9, 11 and 21 floors, with 3 underground floors, on the street ’28 Novtori’ and ‘Abdi Toptani’, structural unit TR/1.
- No. A-12705/6, dated 22.08.2018 for the Approval of the construction permit for the building “Residential and services building 2 to 13 floors, with 4 floors of underground parking and services”, Myslym Shyri Street (Zhanë D’Ark Boulevard) ) Administrative Unit no. 2, in the property of Enklajd Malo, Hauard Malo, Migena Malo, Miranda Malo, and Perla Malo, with developer company ‘MET INVEST’ sh.p.k and with construction subject company ‘ALBANIA INVESTMENT CONSTRUCTION (AIC)’ sh.pk”.
So, contrary to what Mayor Veliaj declares, the institution admits that there were constructions in cultural monument areas.
The response of Tirana Municipality after the complaint, March 9, 2023
Constructions in Tirana in the “eye” of experts
Asked by Faktoje about the constructions near the areas declared cultural monuments, the architect Doriana Musai listed some problems of the constructions in the capital.
“In the physical aspect, the construction that has been developed in Tirana, the entire methodology that has been used in the development of the existing structures in the city through the principle of destruction and reconstruction, but also the occupation of the spaces, or even the additions that have been made to the existing facilities, have not taken into account the cultural aspect of the city’s spaces, i.e. the physical aspect, which also carries cultural values.
This is due to the fact that even the law on cultural heritage, such as that of 2003 and the one we currently have in 2018, ignores the urban aspect as an added value of the object when it is declared a cultural monument”, the expert emphasizes.
Muasi says that unfortunately in our country the importance of cultural objects is not appreciated, but they are treated as simple constructions.
“We are seeing that even though there is actually a law, development is happening. This happens due to the fact that our laws leave room for interpretation by decision makers, who then use or deform or even bend the law, in order to develop according to political, private or economic interests in this case.
Whereas in the case of the cultural monument, where it is only about one object, we do not deal with the spaces around the object. Unfortunately, the object continues for many, many decades to be treated simply as an architectural object, that is, where it is seen only as a construction work. When we say cultural monuments it is much bigger than just an architectural object, while we appreciate them simply as architectural objects, even though we consider them cultural monuments.
There is hypocrisy here, which costs us a lot, because in terms of terminology we are very broad, we approach charters and conventions, but in the applicability and methodology of these principles we are more rigid”, explains the architect Musai.
Citizens say that these constructions are making Tirana lose its identity. Ina, a 35-year-old woman who lives in the capital, says: “The style of Tirana is not the buildings over 20 floors, because like every city in Europe, they are divided into different neighborhoods and areas. We don’t have an area that, for example, is the historical area of Tirana and the new modern area that would at least justify the construction.
Constructions in areas declared Cultural Monuments, Tirana March 27, 2023
“The buildings today are all without any plan and the whole style of Tirana that was once upon a time does not exist. Why not make parks instead of these buildings? What value does it add to Tirana? It has completely lost its authenticity. The Mosque of Tirana, the only historical monument, has been lost among the palaces, and anyone looking for it can hardly find it. Not to count then the movement of people and busy traffic. Tirana needs to build at least one subway to reduce this. Also, for which customers are these buildings being built with prices outside of any level of Albanian reality?! “says Ina.
Construction in Tirana, March 27, 2023
Another citizen of Tirana, Era, emphasizes that these constructions seem to be “taking her breath away”.
“They worry me a lot when I pass on the road, because there is a risk of something falling on our heads. They take our breath away when we lift our heads. The main problem is the traffic of vehicles at the moments when they will become functional as buildings”, says the 29-year-old.
Constructions in the Cultural Monument areas in Tirana, March 27, 2023
Construction in Tirana, March 27, 2023
Based on the verification carried out, we categorize Veliaj’s statement about no construction permits having been granted in the areas declared cultural monuments, as False.