Darcy Frey, in his article “Crowded House”, as he was introducing the MVRDV to the readers of The New York Times Magazine on the June 8 issue, in anticipation of the relatively new architecture firm success from a 2002 perspective asks the question:
“Who were these Dutch upstarts? And in the so-called real world, would anything actually become of their grand, improbable visions?”
After having presented their last wining scheme on July 31, 2008 for an urban design proposal along one of the prime real-estate properties in Tirana, Albania and at the same time one of the last recreational areas in the city not yet deteriorated to the point of no-return the answer is yes. Their vision is becoming more and more part of the so-called real world, yet more improbable. On their proposal this isolated and detached recreational spot, the area of the competition, is turned into one of the densest high-rise residential and office block in the city, complying with the vision of the mayor for yet another development that will attract “foreign investors”(Government data shows the decline on sales of apartment and office spaces from local buyers recently).
Whether MVRDV’s project is about their vision of vertical suburbia, or it lands itself in the middle of a park in downtown Tirana (municipal property) one of the most expensive project in the city, still according to Darcy Frey they all (MVRDV’s projects) would have something in common. “In fact, – Darcy Frey says – MVRDV’s architects rely so much on gathering and metabolizing data, information and competing points of view that they insist they leave no formal signature on their work.”
I hope I haven’t missed the point here, but isn’t the “gathering and metabolizing data” in a high-end residential project on a prime property called “real-estate” project? Is this the secret of how MVRDV’s vision is becoming part of the so-called real world that so fully complies with the vision our Mayor has for the developments in the city?
And how about the “improbable vision” of MVRDV?
According to Darcy Frey (again) “some of the MVRDV designs are so logical they seem to turn reality on its head.”
Then how logical is the scheme or the vision of MVRDV in the case of Lake’s Park project in Tirana?
This is an urban design endeavor and would be reasonable to suggest that one has to look to the urban design reality of Tirana for the logical on the project. Since Tirana has gone through all this period of fifteen years of frenzy development without any comprehensive strategic or other sorts of plans, and since the partial plans, isolated developments, or selective interventions have been recently the pride mark of the actual Mayor administration, wouldn’t it then be logical to look at the apparent isolation from the fabric, infrastructure and morphology of the city on this project as the reasonable reflection of this reality? Then wouldn’t it be reasonable to say that their “improbable vision” more than to the spirit of innovation of MVRDV, owes its results to the juxtaposition of reality with the spirit of experimentation at which urban design and architecture is applied today in Tirana? Or maybe it owes to the fact that the citizens in this city and in this country are constantly subject to the uncertainty of the results that derive from politics and the way all things and matters end up when money and politics are involved? Then wouldn’t it be reasonable to say that the project of MVRDV is a logical representation of Tirana’s ruthless reality?
One can look at the reappearance on the MVRDV urban design scheme of the “standard tower”, first introduced in the city by Architecture Studio five years ago, as a mere logical conclusion of the so-called reality of urban design development in Tirana. Only that this time this “standard tower” is applied more vigorously, even with a sense of ruthlessness for its density into a site much smaller than the one Architecture Studio had attempted courageously few years ago. This time one truly can say that MVRDV really turned the reality on its head.