Teams shortlisted to design Albania’s Unesco site centre

The theatre Butrint, Albania (Aleksandar Todorovic/Dreamstime)
Four teams led by architects from Japan, Finland, France and UK have been shortlisted to design a visitor centre for Butrint National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site on Albania’s Ionian coastline.

The site has remains from major civilisations from the ancient Greeks and Byzantines through to the Venetian and Ottoman periods.

Butrint Management Foundation and Malcolm Reading Consultants chose the following:

  • Kengo Kuma & Associates (Japan) with CHwB Albania, YOKE, Esmeralda Agolli, Ervin Paci, Solaron Albania, iMEPS Engineering & Consulting and R‑Team Engineering
  • Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects (Finland) with Geometria Architecture, doxiadis+, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Giorgos Papazafiriou and Sitowise
  • Philippe Prost / AAPP (France) with Michel Desvigne Paysagiste, William Van Andringa, Terrell Group, Eco + Construire and CL Design
  • William Matthews Associates (UK) with Barker Langham, Harris Bugg Studio, Structure Workshop and Atelier Ten.

They will now create concept designs for the carbon-neutral visitor centre, which will be a gateway to the park amid rising visitor numbers.

Teams from 17 countries entered the contest.

Finalists get an honorarium of US$10,000 for their concept design.

They’ll visit the site in early 2023, with the new visitor centre due to open in 2025.

Malcolm Reading, competition director, said: “This is a fascinating shortlist, a unique mix of renowned architects.

“These practices have achieved national landmarks and won significant awards. The connecting thread is their sensitivity… both in responding to a setting and producing resonant design."

The site’s highlights include an ancient Epirot Theater, Roman Forum and an early Byzantine Baptistery with a well-preserved mosaic pavement, along with other monuments dating from the Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine, Angevin, Venetian and Ottoman periods.

The national park contains hills, lakes, wetlands, salt marshes, plains, reed beds and coastal islands.

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