A decaying communist monument in the Albanian capital of Tirana has been given a $22m makeover, turning it into a set of classrooms and offices for the city – and allowing people to safely climb it for the first time.
The pyramid was constructed in 1988 and opened as a museum to Enver Hoxha – who was dictator of Albania for four decades. It had many lives in the ensuing years, including as a conference centre, NATO base, nightclub and squat, and was earmarked for several ultimately unsuccessful transformation projects.
Dutch architecture practice MVRDV led its recent redesign and adaptive reuse, preserving the pyramid’s structure but installing new banks of windows to bring in light. The sloping concrete walls now have steps attached to them so that visitors can ascend to the top of the pyramid and peer into the glass roof – which replaces the red star that once capped the building.
Inside, the studio has added a series of brightly coloured, stacked boxes, which sit beneath the oculus of the pyramid to create classrooms and office space. MVRDV describes it as ‘an open sculpture in a new park’.
The pyramid will offer free lessons in tech subjects and also host studios, cafes and startups.