House and Home Design - Realestate Passion
Switzerland-based office Oppenheim Architecture has been announced as the winner of a two-phase competition for the redesign and restoration of the Besa Museum in Tirana, Albania. The institution is dedicated to showcasing the Albanian code of honor represented through the name “Besa,” a concept that dictates welcoming any guests as one’s own. The museum is conceived as a continuation of the Jewish Museum on Vlora, diving deeper into the principle of Besa and its role in the help given to the Jews in Albania during the Holocaust.
The new institution will be housed in the “Former House of Toptani Family,” a building located in the center of Tirana representative of the vernacular Albanian architecture of the 19th century, home to one of the country’s most historic families. The museum aims to invite visitors to explore the history of the people who live according to Besa, encouraging dialogue and cultural exchange between Albanians and international visitors. According to the winning architects, the first step in the design phase was engaging with experts in Albanian history, restoration, culture, and architecture to be able to create an architecture that can properly reflect the ideals of the new institution and its guiding principle of Besa.
Oppenheim proposes the careful restoration of the rooms, complete with original works of art, to highlight the Albanian way of life alongside the historical and current events during which Besa has guided Albanians. This was translated into the welcoming of Jews during the Holocaust, but also Kosovar and Afghan refugees in contemporary times. The museum experience is divided into two parts: above ground, the restored residence takes visitors through a journey of understanding Besa historically and culturally; underground, tourists are immersed in an interactive experience of the concept of Besa.
The new museum will include exhibition spaces, archives, an auditorium, and educational spaces, as well as a newly constructed wing underneath the exterior courtyard mirroring that is designed to mirror the organization of the original Ottoman structure with rooms displayed around a central space called an Oda. The courtyard of the historical residential complex will also feature a set of bright red monoliths meant to draw visitors in from the surrounding city. The sculptural towers have the added function of bringing beacons of light to the new underground wing, further accentuating the exhibits.
Last year, the Danish architecture office CEBRA won the competition to design “Mount Tirana,” a new landmark for the capital city of Albania, in celebration of the natural landscape surrounding the city. Prior to this, MVRDV designed a mixed-use project sculpted in the shape of Albania’s national hero, to be built at the Skanderbeg Square in the center of Tirana. On a similar note, Stefano Boeri Architetti has created a new model for schools to be built across the city as part of the new Tirana 2030 master plan.