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COOP HIMMELB(L)AU to Design New Albanian Parliament Building
Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 |

COOP HIMMELB(L)AU's entry 'Open Parliament of Albania' in Tirana has won the First Prize. The concept incorporates fundamental democratic values such as openness, transparency and public co-determination. The building, located on a site area with approximately 28,000 m², is going to be the first project in Albania for the Viennese headquartered studio.

Competition-winning design for the new Albanian Parliament Building in Tirana by COOP HIMMELB(L)AU

Visualization, exterior

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Visualization, exterior

Project Description from the Architects:

As the future political center 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 design for the Open Parliament of Albania relies on three main ideas:

  • To provide a strong urban statement in this exposed part of Tirana's urban fabric;
  • To assemble the different functions in one building ensemble that is compact enough to create a public forum and a park on the southern part of the site;
  • To create a unique building for the most important public institution of the Albanian Republic with a contemporary architectural approach shaped to optimize active and passive energy use.

Visualization, exterior

Click above image to view slideshow
Visualization, exterior

The design incorporates fundamental democratic values such as openness, transparency and public co-determination. The simultaneity of competing political concepts within a democratic society is translated into the design concept: Different building elements are not opposed, but coexist in one building ensemble with a contemporary aesthetic that allows visualizing new functions and meanings.

The core of the building complex is the parliamentary hall that is situated in a glazed cone and stands for the transparency of the legislation.

Visualization, exterior close-up

Click above image to view slideshow
Visualization, exterior close-up

A public stair leads from the public forum to the landscaped roof of the plinth building that unites all the different building elements of our 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.

Visualization, interior

Click above image to view slideshow
Visualization, interior

Energy Concept:

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 special 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 reliance on fossil fuel energy sources.

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.

Model photo

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Model photo

Project Details:

Client: the Republic of Albania, the Parliament
Site area: 28,000 m2
Gross floor area: 38,650 m2
Footprint: 13,100 m2
Height: 36 m, 50 m (highest point)
Length: 88 m, 70 m (office building)
Width: 60 m, 70 m (office buiding)

Design principal: Wolf D. Prix
Design partner: Karolin Schmidbaur
Senior project partner: Michael Volk
Project partner: Hartmut Hank
Project architect: Friedrich Hähle
Design architects: Ivana Jug, Steven Ma
Project team: Anne Arildsen, Peregrine Buckler, Veronika Janovska, Kadri Kerge, Heimo Matt, Anais Méon, Valerie Messini, Ismet Qorrolli, Jeroen Roosen, Tamara Soto Bailon, Xinyu Wan
3D visualization: Steven Ma, Cynthia Sanchez-Morales
Graphic: Thomas Hindelang, Jan Rancke, Anja Sorger
Photography: Markus Pillhofer
Model building: Sebastian Buchta, Tyler Bornstein, Paul Hoszowski, La Chi Nam, Morteza Farhadian Dehkordi, Tichen Lu, Magnus Möschel
Animation: Isochrom

Structural engineering: B+G Ingenieure, Bollinger Grohmann Schneider ZT-GmbH, Vienna, Austria
Energy design: Prof. Brian Cody, Berlin, Germany

Thursday, March 31, 2011
This feels like one of those projects that will go three times over budget. Or end up looking nothing like these initial renderings. One only has to look at COOP HIMMELB(L)AU's Central Los Angeles High School for precedent.

Monday, April 04, 2011
A very risky approach. I am curious to see the actual outcome

Wednesday, April 06, 2011
I hope the can get the sharks with lasers on their heads for this one

Saturday, April 09, 2011
Wade from the US - "One only has to look at COOP HIMMELB(L)AU's Central Los Angeles High School for precedent"
Are you saying that complex design and construction should not be attempted because it will run over budget? What's the point in pointing out the obvious? Corbu should have stayed in budget too? I'm confused what the argument is. Are you saying keep it ordinary and simple or don't attempt it? All projects of this size morph to deal with complex political, social, and budgetary issues.

Monday, April 18, 2011
I agree with Justin. Although what Wade pointed out may not be wrong in a way, it is such a near-sighted view and it is the kind of mindset not-too-passionate-anymore architects put forward. We cannot blame his doubts and yet, we shouldn't reduce our profession and discipline of architecture to merely a service where budget concerns drive everything. What matters to me is that Wolf Prix's spirit tries to project itself beyond the concerns of realities. Who cares if it is not exactly same as renderings when the essence of the project could carry on? Thinking like Wade, one will never go all that far.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Justin and Pegasus - I am all for complex design, but I like to to see some sense of reason behind it. Complexity for complexity's sake has tainted architecture for the last two decades. Just because we can build it doesn't mean we should build it. And I personally don't see this design breaking any boundaries or bringing forth any new ideas.

And, yes, budget concerns should drive projects like these. Both the LA high school and this one are public projects, not private museums funded by billionaires. Budget is a design constraint. It should feed the creativity of the architect. If COOP HIMMELB(L)AU can't find a creative way to accomplish their goal within budget, or even relatively within budget, then they should be embarrassed.

United States
Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I agree with everything you said.

Complexity of shapes does not equal pushing boundaries.
Odd shapes don't convey "openness, transparency, etc..."

Ideas convey these things, not shapes.

Milano, Italy
Monday, February 13, 2012
And as wade predicted, HIMMELB(L)AU did not only go waaay too far from the predicted budget during the feasibility study, but they also claimed 10% of the total budget as their project income, way over the 7% , which is the Max rate predicted in the Republic of Albania's Law for Public Works & Projects.

The Albanian Government tried to negotiate, but it lead to nothing so the deal went off.

The Winning Project now is the 2° Prize in the Competition, meaning Mario Cucinella Architects.

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