Since 1999, the Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) monitors the development of public space in European cities. Every two years, it awards the European Prize for Urban Public Space to projects that in an exemplary way create, upvalue, or enliven public space.
Award for Skanderbeg Square, Tirana
This year, the CCCB honors the redesign of Skanderbeg Square in the Albanian capital of Tirana. Brussels-based office 51N4E turned the urban space into an agora freed from all ideological symbols and motorized private transport. Before that, the Square was an incoherent place, filled with memories of propaganda parades of the Communist dictatorship. The award encourages the young Albanian democracy which lacks the experience and the funds to further invest in public space.
Diversity of Public Space: Honorary Mentions
The jury acknowledges the complexity of public space by commemorating a number of urban interventions in their honorary mentions: “Cuypers Passage”, a tunnel for pedestrians and cyclists in Amsterdam, designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects; a temporary open air theater in Dnipro, Ukraine, realized by an NGO of musicians, designers, architects, curators and cultural managers with the help of crowdfunding; the Zollverein-Park in Essen, Germany, designed by Planergruppe GmbH Oberhausen; the remodeling of the “Superblocks” into spaces for pedestrians and cyclists in Barcelona, Spain planned by Area d’Ecologia, Urbanisme i Mobilitat and the city council Barcelona. PC Caritas by BAVO, architecten de vylder vinck taillieu in Melle, Belgium gets an honorary mention. The old, semi-public pavillon that is part of a mental hospital could be saved from demolition and now provides a quiet refuge for patients and their families.
According to CCCB, the status of public space shows the health status of democracy in our cities. This stresses the importance of its engagement which uses publications, exhibitions, and events to point out serious deficits. The European Prize for Urban Public Space provides us with a guiding theme for the strengthening of open and fit urban communities.