Osumi River Island . Berat

MikeViktorViktor Architects . PRGºBR Architektur . Jorge Otero-Pailos . Kris Coremans, Maarten Delbeke, Yves Coussement

The iconic view of the historic city of Berat, created over centuries by thousands of artists and travelers, is from the river looking up at the castle. The thousand windows are oriented towards the river, and the city of windows appears at its best from the river. Osumi Island has historically served as the privileged place from which to admire this UNESCO Heritage site. Yet because it floods it was only accessible seasonally.

We propose to turn Osumi Island into a year-round park from which to admire the city and castle, following the footsteps of romantic painters and travelers. It will be an oasis of calm and beauty framing the iconic view of Berat, where residents will walk their traditional “Xhiro”, children will have safe play areas away from traffic, and the city’s great outdoor cultural events and concerts will be staged.
Berat is historically significant both for its architecture and for its cultural landscape. Osumi Island is an important contributing feature to this cultural landscape. It is situated at the core of the UNESCO buffer zone, and it is important to preserve Osumi Island as a natural element.
Our project protects the natural atmosphere of the island while creating the necessary infrastructure for its year-round enjoyment. We raise the ground level at the center of the island safely above the flood line, but we leave the rest of the island in its natural state, so that it continues to disappear under water during the high water months. We thus preserve this important natural cycle of emergence and submergence, which has historically defined the experience of the island and the city.
The naturally flooding edges of the island are set in counterpoint to the urban edge of the city, which is lined with an embankment that doubles up as a new sewage conduit. The top of the embankment serves as a new beautiful boardwalk. Inside the wall is the necessary engineering to upgrade Berat’s sewage system, safely leading all waste water to a treatment facility downstream.

©MikeViktorViktor Architects, Belgium (Bart Melort, Sven Verbruggen, Alice Chen, Maïté Martens, Bram Vandemoortel, Elias Verdegem), PRGºBR Architektur, Albania (Florian Pollo, Dorian Tytymce), Jorge Otero-Pailos, U.S.A., Kris Coremans, Maarten Delbeke, Yves Coussement, Belgium.

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