The Pyramid is thus expected to become a new hub for Tirana's cultural life and an icon for the new generation.
The 11,835m² Pyramid has had several lives in the past: originally constructed as a museum dedicated to Enver Hoxha, it has also served as a temporary base for NATO during the War in Kosovo, a nightclub, and an event space.
For many Albanians, the Pyramid is now the symbol of victory over the regime. In an attempt to reclaim the deteriorating structure, the youth of Tirana have used it as a hangout and a canvas for graffiti, and often climb it at night and then – not without risk – slide down its slopes.
Plans in recent years to transform the structure only partially materialised, leaving the interior cluttered and dark.
MVRDV’s design will radically open up the building, which is now hermetically sealed and inaccessible. Huge glass flaps close the building when it rains.
Additions from previous renovations will be stripped away to reveal a voluminous interior space while trees and other greenery will give this open space a welcoming appearance.
Boxes containing individual rooms are to be placed inside, upon, and around the existing structure. This will create a village of classrooms, studios, cafes, and restaurants.
Non-profit educational institution TUMO Tirana will be the main occupant of the Pyramid, providing free afterschool education for 12- to 18-year-olds in new techniques such as software, robotics, animation, music, and film.
Steps will also be added to the sloping concrete beams, making it safe for visitors to literally walk over this former museum to the country’s dictator, right to the top of the pyramid.
One of the beams will be preserved as a slope that visitors can slide down – at their own risk.
These steps can also be used for sightseeing and temporary events, returning the Pyramid and the surrounding plaza to their function as an important central point for cultural life in Tirana.