The Belgian architectural firm was established in 1998 by Johan Anrys, Freek Persyn, and Peter Swinnen. You probably know them from projects such as Lamot (2005), TID Tower Tirana (2004), C-Mine (2006), and the Fly-Over (2019). 51N4E represents Brussels’ geographical coordinates, as a nod to the office’s location.
The Brussels touch
In 2018, the architectural firm 51N4E won the European Prize for Urban Public Space for the reconstruction of Tirana’s Skanderberg Square. The square was constructed in 1930 and attracted many crowds thanks to the nearby symbolic buildings such as the opera house, the national museum, and the National Bank. The Belgians turned the over 170 m2 square into a traffic-free zone, creating a kind of “clearing in the midst of the city’s chaos.” In fact, thanks to the clearing, the new greenery, and the slope, the square has taken on an imposing and monumental appearance. A nice fact about the project is that the reconstruction involved used stones from the various reaches of Albania.
European Prize for Urban Public Space
This bi-annual competition serves to highlight European projects that create, restore, or improve public spaces. The renovation of Skanderbeg Square was awarded first prize in 2018.
Plans for the future
Although the extensive TR2030 plan has already given rise to several new projects in Tirana, including the reconstruction of Skanderberg Square, there’s more to come. Twenty new public schools will be built, and many other architectural treasures are still in the pipeline. Besides developing the master plan, Stefano Boeri also designed the Vertical Forest building. This building will have three green facades accommodating more than 3,200 shrubs and 145 trees. The Vertical Forest will create more than 550 m2 of new green space, increasing the city’s biodiversity and contributing to a new urban ecosystem.