Streets for Kids / Rrugët Për Fëmijët – Street Party! – September 16th – 5pm-9pm – Stay tuned for details

Teaching / Atelier Albania Academy Shqip

Atelier Albania Academy

In 2015 we established the Atelier Albania Academy to research and make recommendations to the central government on rural hospitality and environmental protection.

Students of the Atelier Albania Academy looking out over Lake Ohrid at sunrise, 2017.
Students of the Atelier Albania Academy looking out over Lake Ohrid at sunrise, 2017.
Atelier Albania Academy classroom in Permet, 2017.
Atelier Albania Academy classroom in Permet, 2017.

Each year, a team small enough to fit inside one van spends a month developing spatial changes that seek to redistribute tourism income toward the public good.

The work of the academy has had a rippling effect. Further initiatives around the country, based on our recommendations and pedagogical model, have emerged over the years. In 2018, 100 Villages Academy—a collaboration between the Prime Ministry, Agjensia Për Zhvillim Bujqësor dhe Rural (AZhBR, Agency for Agricultural and Rural Development), and a number of other national agencies—was invented based on the structure of our school. And a central proposal from the first academy, that the mountain plateau near the village of Pilur host an annual cultural event, gave rise to South Outdoor Festival.

The Atelier Albania Academy is supported by Agjencia Kombetare Planifikimit te Territorit (AKPT, National Territorial Planning Agency).

Mobility in Coastal Towns

*Rural Street Design Guidelines*, published by Atelier Albania Academy and AKPT, 2020.
Rural Street Design Guidelines, published by Atelier Albania Academy and AKPT, 2020.

Year: 2019
Publication: Rural Street Design Guidelines

In Cooperation with Our Lady of Good Counsel University

A resident of the village Kryekuq moves his turkeys along a recently paved road, funded by an Italian development fund and built according to a roads standard written in the 1930s.
A resident of the village Kryekuq moves his turkeys along a recently paved road, funded by an Italian development fund and built according to a roads standard written in the 1930s.

In “Mobility in Coastal Towns” we studied the history of the kodi rrugore—the engineering code governing road design in Albania. This code was adapted from the Italian state code in the 1930s, which is embedded in the modernist language of progress that road construction has continued to represent ever since.

We produced a bilingual book, Rural Street Design Guidelines, which represents a first attempt to create a street design standard for rural Albania, with a focus on the towns and villages along Albania’s 340-kilometer coastline. It is intended to be of use to anyone building a road.

Project Team
Simon Battisti, instructor
Arba Baxhaku, instructor
Lorina Hoxha, assistant instructor
Arianit Ramiqi, assistant instructor
Iva Tavanxhiu, assistant instructor
Malvina Ferra, AKPT team
Mikel Tanini, AKPT team
Alkens Deneko, researcher
Joana Lamaj, researcher
Elisa Miho, researcher
Klea Neli, researcher
Simone Shahini, researcher
Maringlen Kalaj, contributing author
Adonel Myzyri, contributing author
Ana Zhibaj, contributing author

The Lakes District

Prespa Radio: nature field recordings with a seasonal focus on migrating bird species.
Prespa Radio: nature field recordings with a seasonal focus on migrating bird species.

Year: 2018
Location: Prespa Region (Lin, Gurras, Tushemisht, Zaroshka, Zvirine)

“The Lakes District” proposed to name and protect a new bio-region defined by Lake Ohrid, one of the deepest lakes in the world, and its main source of fresh water, Lake Prespa, situated 500 meters higher, which feeds it through massive karstic springs.

Field Project Team
Simon Battisti, instructor
Ejnxhi Panariti, project assistant
Shqiponja Dakaj, researcher
Atdhe Hogoshti, researcher
Geri Jaupi, researcher
Ana Zhibaj, researcher

Lake Ohrid is one of the deepest lakes in the world. Over 50,000 tourists per year visit it, while the smaller, shallower Lake Prespa, more like a large puddle, hosts fewer than 1,000 visitors annually.
Lake Ohrid is one of the deepest lakes in the world. Over 50,000 tourists per year visit it, while the smaller, shallower Lake Prespa, more like a large puddle, hosts fewer than 1,000 visitors annually.

After our annual summer academy, we formed a second team as part of 100 Villages Academy. The five villages we focused on are located in southeast Albania, where three countries—Albania, Macedonia, and Greece—straddle a complex water system of lakes. Over the last thirty years the delicate biosphere has been the subject of landmark cases of cross-border environmental protection regulations initiated by the European Union. The output of 100 Villages Academy has informed rural development decisions from the central government over the past two years. More information can be found on the AKPT website.

100 Villages Academy
Simon Battisti, instructor
Erisa Nesimi, project lead
Shqiponja Dakaj, researcher
Sarah Dobjani, researcher
Eni Molla, researcher
Geri Prendushi, researcher
Ana Zhibaj, researcher

Where Cold Spring Water Bubbles and Cool Breezes Blow in Summer: Envisioning Ecology, Cultural Heritage, and Tourism in the Vjosa Valley

*Where Cold Spring Water Bubbles and Cool Breezes Blow in Summer*, published by Atelier Albania Academy and AKPT, 2017.
Where Cold Spring Water Bubbles and Cool Breezes Blow in Summer, published by Atelier Albania Academy and AKPT, 2017.

Year: 2017
Location: Vjosa Valley

Where cold spring water bubbles and cool breezes blow in summer,
Where the foliage grows so fairly, where the flowers have such fragrance,
Where the shepherd plays his reed pipe to the grazing of the cattle,
Where the goats, their bells resounding, rest, yes ‘tis the land I long for.

— Naim Frashëri, excerpt from “O Malet’ e Shqipërisë” (trans. Robert Elsie)

Lëngarice Canyon, which drains into the Vjosa River. The canyon has many warm springs, the largest of which, at its mouth, is known as the Bënjë Springs.
Lëngarice Canyon, which drains into the Vjosa River. The canyon has many warm springs, the largest of which, at its mouth, is known as the Bënjë Springs.
Students listen to a man from the village of Bënjë in the Vjosa Valley, twenty kilometers south of Permet.
Students listen to a man from the village of Bënjë in the Vjosa Valley, twenty kilometers south of Permet.

Between 2008 and 2014 thousands of small hydropower dam projects across the Balkans were designed and approved, typically funded by European development banks under the banner of sustainable energy. Hydropower does not emit CO₂ as a byproduct of energy production, but the tradeoff is the almost total erasure of a riparian ecosystem.

The Vjosa River has become widely known as Europe’s “last wild river.” Originating in Greece and flowing north and then west out to the sea in Albania, the river had two hydropower projects tendered in 2018.

This academy tried to make a case around value—highlighting that environmental protection and cultural funding in rural Albania is a drastically more lucrative and sustainable investment than resource extraction.

Project Team
Simon Battisti, instructor
Erisa Nesimi, project assistant
Esmerina Hidri, researcher
Tea Mersuli, researcher
Adonel Myzyri, researcher
Ejnxhi Panariti, researcher
Arianit Ramiqi, researcher

Farmers with a View

*Farmers with a View*, published by Atelier Albania Academy and AKPT, 2015.
Farmers with a View, published by Atelier Albania Academy and AKPT, 2015.

Year: 2015
Location: Himarë, Kudhës, Pilur, Qeparo

Co-organized and funded by Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ, German Corporation for International Cooperation)

After living in southern coastal Albania for four weeks, walking and listening, we began to understand the relationships between post-1990s emigration and informal tourism development, the extreme degree to which that economy has come to devalue cultural heritage, represented by the historic mountain villages, and continues to exclude them, twenty-five years later, from accessing the tourism revenues being generated mere kilometers below at the beach.

“Farmers with a View” proposed five short-term events that would take place in the villages of the Riviera that would re-couple the two spaces of “above” and “below”: the mountain and the beach. The proposals complement one kind of tourist infrastructure at the beach with attractions in the villages that emphasize cultural heritage.

Project Team
Simon Battisti, instructor
Ilva Gjuzi, project assistant
Eneida Berisha, researcher
Fatbardha Hyseni, researcher
Era Mërkuri, researcher
Erisa Nesimi, researcher
Arjela Tifi, researcher