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“The Open Parliament of Albania”, Tirana, Albania
April 7th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Coop Himmelblau
Architectural and urban design strategies
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.
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.
Energy ConceptThe 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 spatial 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 dependence on fossil fuel energy sources.
Structural ConceptThe Parliament of Albania is envisaged as a reinforced concrete building that consists of two distinct structural units: Firstly, a base area which above ground comprises two floor levels plus a parking sector with three levels, and one basement level; secondly a separate office block with five floors elevated on four cores above the base. The main part of the base stretches from ground level to + 9.0 m above ground. Its floor area amounts to roughly 12,500 m² per floor.
The second structural volume of 60 x 70 m winds around a courtyard. Each of its five storeys has a height of 3.7 m. Between the base and the upper building unit is a horizontal gap of 7 m, which is bridged by the four building cores. In addition to the concrete structures described above, the project contains two sculptural cones. Both are structurally independent and carry their loads to the foundation at ground level. One is situated near an outer corner of the base structure and reaches a height of 35 m, the other one lies inside the courtyard of the elevated part with a height of approximately 50 m.
The Parliamentary HallSpatially, the new Parliament’s Chamber reflects a basic democratic principle, the power of the electorate, by situating the public above the elected assembly members while placing the chamber hall at the physical and metaphorical center of the building ensemble.
This strategy creates a vast public forum and park between the parliament and the facilities of the Prime Minister.
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. 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.
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. The exact configuration of the envelope form and the degree of skin perforation varies according to the orientation of the building elevations towards the sun.
The entrance level also provides space for all the functional entities that are in direct relation to the functioning of the parliamentary hall itself – multiple entrances to the hall, the bureau of the parliament, two meeting rooms for MPs, the big meeting room for parliamentary groups and the generous reception areas.The public elements of the entrance level as well as the public vertical connection to the gallery level, which will allow visitors and journalists to follow the parliamentary sessions, are all grouped around the entrance cone (main entrance with security checks, museum and information areas).The second level of the plinth structure hosts all the functions with a public or collective character of use – restaurant areas for MPs and staff, library and archive, two venues for international conferences and the areas designed to accommodate the press conferences including dedicated working areas for journalists.
The office block is organized on five levels around the central glazed cone of the parliamentary hall. Level 3 accommodates 13 meeting rooms for the Parliamentary committees as well as offices for the associated chairmen of these committees.Office areas for MPs, deputies and different administrative departments are distributed throughout levels 4 to 6. The upper level of the office block is reserved for the areas related to the Speaker of the Parliament and its deputies: The Cabinet, the representative apartment of the Speaker and the cabinets of the Deputy Speakers. The parking is designed very economically as a structure that is mainly placed above ground with direct internal access to the parliament facilities on the entrance level. For security reasons, the parking block is a completely separate building structure from the parliament thus reducing security screening requirements upon entrance to the parking areas.
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Category: Government Building