Albania is a fast growing country, with tourism as its main driving force. Unfortunately, in the past 25 years, rules and planning regulations have never been able to catch up to the rapid transformations. How can a new strategy to support the demand of food, energy, materials and resources for a sustainable growth of tourism be defined?

Such tasks require a rereading of urbanization as a coherent organism, that is, as an urban metabolism: learning to understand urbanization in terms of vital flows of materials such as energy, food, and water. Starting from that notion – urbanization as an ecosystem – the rethinking of spatial development is no longer about laying out locations, but rather about connecting and disentangling material flows.

Urban design in this case means coupling flows and creating parallel routes, closing cycles to reduce wastage and providing alternative infrastructures for spin-off. Working with flows also presupposes the ability to alternate between local, regional, and higher levels, between strategy and spatial design, between material flows and the accompanying infrastructure. This approach replaces questions about urbanization as the development of objects by questions about urbanization as a process. A dynamic approach starts at the regional level and ends at the house in the street.

Location: Albania

Program: Sustainable economic development model for Next Generation Albania, based on urban metabolism as a frame for an open planning approach

Year: 2014

Commissioner: iabr/UP, National Territorial Planning Agency of Albania (AKPT)

Partners: PBL Environmental Assessment Agency, TU Delft, 51N4E, National Territorial Planning Agency (AKPT)

Design Managers: Eric Frijters, Olv Klijn

Project leader: Bas Driessen

Team: Mirte van Laarhoven, Marisa Musing, Ivo Clason


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