These minimal interventions actively restore ecologies and orchestrate activities on an erosive coastline.
The erosion of beachfront and arable land is a problem facing a majority of the world’s most populated areas. Strategies must be developed to both take action, both in order to mitigate and slow the transformation of our geological heritage, and to prepare the world’s cities to live in a world thus transformed. Vlora, a site of unique geological and hydrological characteristics, can lead the charge in this approach, developing unique and innovative solutions and partnerships pairing research objectives with touristic and economic development strategies.
Vlora is at the center of the Mediterranean coast, a uniquely interwoven ecological and economical system bridging diverse but complimentary cultures. Vlora’s challenges are shared throughout the region, and solutions it provides for a transformative waterfront can be shared throughout. The currents and hydrological patterns in Vlora Bay are eroding the coastline of the southern Peninsula and depositing new beachfront throughout the competition site. The effects are visible from year to year, with structures along the southern coast increasingly submerged, and the northern coast encroaching further out to sea. Interventions in this transformational zone must both respond and help to shape these powerful forces that are literally reshaping Vlora.
The Pulse of Vlora
The Vlora Waterfront project is conceived as a series of ‘pulses’ along the coast of Vlora, energizing local economies and activity along the waterfront by extending both out into the sea, and inward into the neighborhoods. Outward extensions are newly programmed beach areas and a series of landmark piers. Inward extensions are infrastructural improvements and neighborhood connections mitigating stormwater infrastructure and connecting beach programs to the surrounding natural beauty.
Active public programs like bus stops, transit centers, info points, and bike sharing stations populate the program pavilion, located on the city side of the boulevard, and paired with easy access to the beach. These roofed structures help to foster a sense of place along the boulevard, and signal arrival to visitors first arriving to each zone.
The boardwalk pavilion provides space for gathering under the shade on the edge of the boardwalk. A series of long steps provide area for an informal amphitheater, an ideal setting for seasonal concerts and performances, or for taking in the ‘urban theater’ of the boardwalk promenade.
The Floating Pavilions engage the vast terrain of Vlora Bay with a whimsical and ever-changing public waterscape. A new destination for lounging, diving, and controlled swimming within the larger expanse of the sea, these elements incorporate both touristic and scientific needs – serving also as monitoring stations for changes in water quality, tidal activity, and other coastal management issues.
The dune pavilion creates a windbreak on the beach, organizing a field of restorative dunes to alleviate the seasonal pressures of currents and tides as they progressively reshape the Vlora coast. The dunes themselves foster the reintroduction of local flora and fauna, the sights and smells particular to the natural Vlora coast.
Inlet Pavilions allow the sea to sculpt new engagements with visitors to Vlora bay, providing a richer variety of ecohabitats. By staging areas with different salinities, a number of different fish farms and hatcheries can be supported to draw seasonal uses year-round by area fishermen and sporting enthusiasts. The pavilion itself augments these uses, supplying a ready stock of supplies and an area for quiet observation.
The Filter Pavilion is placed beyond the road, and acts as a mediator between the neighborhood and the beach. Soft infrastructures embedded in local streambeds provide channeling and filtration for local stormwater runoff, reconnecting the hydrology of the mountains with the sea in a controlled environment. Bioswales help to cleanse the water while stormwater planting helps to alleviate pressure from inundation during storms.