What has characterized Zero Space of Tirana before the 90’s? How was life evolving in and around it? Concentration of public services organized in a rational and well-defined fashion used to offer limited services distributed in spots creating an introverted and mono-functional Zero Space. In this repetitive system, the difference between public and private was easily perceived, the threshold of the door was the pivotal element dividing these two spaces, where the private had an unknown and impermeable character. With the decline of the totalitarian system, the borders collapsed, now we find a space interpreted from the spontaneous planner himself, the citizen. What used to be introverted and mono-functional has been transformed in a dynamic Zero Space, where the services are distributed uniformly throughout the city with all their colours. The freedom of opening Zero Space for the public created an architecture with a desire to exchange. Conceptually demolishing the physical threshold of the door, Zero Space of the city has now been transformed into a permeable space for the public.
The research work is based on the interpretation of ‘Freespace’ on the self-addressed space as a socially-based, but urban-influencing phenomenon in the city of Tirana. This phenomenon has been studied through the observation and experience of the zero floor as a space that creates a broad perception by both users, and space operators. The study relies on the artistic practice of a part of the team members, in interviews and conversations with ground floor owners, and photographs or videos that illustrate the emergence of the phenomenon during the liberation process of the floor, into the service of the city. Abstraction of the total emptying of the ground floor into a giant free agora, where every necessary service is no fewer than several dozen meters from each citizen’s sleeping space, is visually achieved through the installation in a studied but usable and freely modifiable order of the city doors, which turns the biennial audience into an interactive experience
Keeping with the theme, Freespace is interpreted as the liberation of the space on ground floor of Tirana, creating a city where everyone serves something to the someone. Throughout being served in a cafeteria or at a shoemaker, a barber shop, a tailor or even at a butcher, this level, simply, slowly, in its own pace but at the same time in a chaos which with its spontaneous evolution, differently from the classic planning of the territory, has created the city where the public space is similar to a physical social media, with its feet on the ground. The active participation and the sense of community takes place in the forming of a lifestyle based on opportunities given in the zero level of the city.
In Tirana nowadays, life happens in “places” in which it is possible to find almost every private or public service and to live every possible experience within the city’s perimeter with an uncommon uniformity spread throughout its whole extent. Every neighbourhood in Tirana feeds ‘’Zero Space’’ adding up to the obvious comfortability the certainty of a social interaction, served by the human dimension of the classic neighbourhood shop, present in all service levels and in every part of the city. All of this, based both in personal and collective initiative, in a total freedom of acting towards the modification of ground floor from a private place to an open public space. Without the complexity of maintaining the identity or creating an urban style, but simply by forming a lifestyle which seems to be an indisputable feature of this city. Opening a door, closing another, transforming and modelling the spaces, it gets adapted with the constant change of the dynamics that this lifestyle requires. Citizens of Tirana design their lives in between securities of the ground floor in the city where they freely interact with each other, closely related to the territory.