The city of Durres is preparing to become the cultural gateway to the Mediterranean, a hub and a pole for Albania, which recognizes the area of the amphitheater as a point of reference in the heart of the city. Stefano Boeri Architetti and SON Architects have been announced as winners of the tender launched by the Albanian Ministry of Culture and the Albanian-American Foundation for Development (AADF) in support of the long-term vision outlined in the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) for Durres, recently drawn up, aimed at the enhancement of the historical assets of the city.The winners will deal with the interpretation, presentation and enhancement of the Roman amphitheater, the Byzantine forum and the Roman baths, as well as the design of a series of urban routes in the historic center of Durres . The project will also create an archaeological park in the heart of the city for residents and visitors. With its elliptical shape, the amphitheater plays a leading role as an icon and landmark in the heart of the city. For a long time, a specific plan for integrating the city’s archaeological resources or creating a dedicated itinerary was neglected and never made, largely due to limited funding and slow times of the international archaeological teams involved. Today the amphitheater is the main archaeological attraction of the city and welcomes about 20,000 visitors a year (pre-COVID-19). cities, fragmented by modern development. These routes will be used by residents as well as by visitors and tourists. The main objective of the project is to connect the seafront and the port of Durres with the main tourist attractions of the city, as many peripheral cultural assets are still disconnected and difficult to access for residents and visitors, thus hindering full tourist development. A fundamental element of this project will be the definition of the legal status of these paths and their current rights of passage to protect their future protection.Finally, also the Byzantine forum and the Roman baths are important cultural assets for Durres, although unfortunately closed to public, not very visible and underestimated. The Roman baths are recognized as a cultural monument; they extend over an area of about 700 square meters and include several rooms, of which only two, the caldarium and the swimming pool, have been identified with precision, while the tepidarium and the frigidarium still remain underground. The archaeological area of the Byzantine forum, also called “Rotonda”, was used as a public space for the organization of fairs and conferences and covers an area of approximately 2,530 square meters. It contains the remains of a circular portico with a podium in the center partially below the level of the street, sidewalks and surrounding buildings. Both areas are currently separated from each other by a narrow area on street level, and access is only possible with appropriate measures. Stefano Boeri Architetti and SON Architects will work closely with the Ministry of Tourism and the Environment through the Agency National Tourism Agency, the National Littoral Agency and the National Agency for Territorial Planning The project will be financed and managed by the Albanian-American Foundation for Development (AADF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and will be developed in close collaboration with the National Institute for Cultural Heritage, the Direction of the Archaeological Service (subordinate to the National Institute for Cultural Heritage), the Museum Center of Durres (which currently manages the Archaeological Park of Durres and the amphitheater), the Regional Directorate of Cultural Heritage of Tirana, the Council of Professors of the Institute of Archeology, the Municipality of Durres through its various d departments including urban planning and finance, and the Institute of Archeology (Ministry of Education and Research) which is the only state institution with legal authorization to carry out scientific and archaeological excavations. The team of consultants will identify and consult groups of interest of the national and regional public sector, NGOs, academic and private sectors, relevant universities and additional education providers and NGOs operating in Durres, including the Albanian Development Fund. “The Durres Amphitheater is not only a cultural monument, but a symbolic representation of the city of Durres, a testimony of the past glory of this ancient city, which must be returned to the attention of every visitor to Durres. The centuries have cast a shadow but have not extinguished the light of the immense cultural heritage of Durres, for this reason the conservation and revitalization project of the amphitheater is necessary to restore part of the ‘lost’ glory. The amphitheater will have to come back to light in all its grandeur and be part of the cultural map of Durres which will aim to connect, through a network of routes, all the monuments of the city. Durres has an extraordinary archaeological richness and there is much still to be discovered, but all roads should lead us to the amphitheater “explains Elva Margariti, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Albania. This initiative confirms the growing attention and care of Stefano Boeri Architetti towards the world archaeological heritage, already expressed with the projects in Italy for the Domus Aurea in Rome and the archaeological park of Ostia Antica.
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