fall 2011- spring 2012

  • SAID Distinguished Design Research Awards
  • Featured at the 2012 Venice Biennale
  • Tirana Architecture Week Poster Competition 

Throughout Albania, there are 750,000 crippled concrete bunkers that reek of waste and mildew. They cut through cornfields and sidewalks, backyards and boardwalks. Through their firing apertures they frame the most picturesque views of the landscape. They were built during the Communist era to defend the country against a possible invasion—or so the people were led to believe. This imaginary enemy never came and the bunkers now stand as physical manifestations of the madness of totalitarianism. But the remnants of Communism remain lodged in the consciousness and unconsciousness of all who lived through it, and for the sake of understanding present and future Albania, it must not be forgotten.

This thesis proposes an unconventional memorial to Albanian Communism. This does not commemorate the victims who perished in labor camps. This is a memorial for those who instigated rebellion, and subverted the influence of propaganda and psychological repression, and physically took down the regime—the ones who survived.

A Collage

The following exercise begins to reinterpret the historical narrative of the bunkers as a way to visually sift through the chaos and use collage to make sense of disparate pieces of information. The constructed scenes are based on historical events, but they appear more so as vehicles of propaganda. Each portrays a tension between opposing forces.

For those not familiar with key figures or events used, it is difficult to decipher their true intent. In this case, new stories emerge while trying to uncover their meaning. Instead of reiterating the history, the following is a hypothetical and somewhat comical interpretation. Regardless of the version, whether historical or fictional, a conflict is instigated resulting in the subversion of the perceived enemy.

Episode 1
An Assassination Attempt

It began with an assassination attempt on the country’s dictator by undercover CIA agents posing as Soviet bombers. They recently discovered the dictator's deadly plan for Albanian world domination by constructing home-grown concrete mushrooms made indestructible by an orbiting membrane.

Episode 2
Camp Burrel 

A typical day in a typical labor camp: criminals, religious leaders and the mentally ill are slowly exterminated to make way for a stronger Albania.

Episode 3
An Unexpected Flaw

In the capital city, a special gas is dispersed into the air to brainwash their citizens to become obedient killing machines and avenge the attack on the dictator, but instead they turn on eachother, hypnotized by the need to destroy

Episode 4
An Unexpected Flaw Continued

It appears the gas dissipated on contact the protective membrane of the dictator’s lethal weapon allowing a rebel unit to camouflage the remains with their tears in rainbow colors.

Episode 5

A new leader emerges to solve the country’s geopolitical problems by making the ground vibrate. The insane dictator’s concrete mushrooms elevate and disappear in the stratosphere leaving behind only tokens of peace and commercialization.

The result is a conceptual project that manipulates the bunkers into public restrooms. Building on anthropologist Mary Douglas’ definition of dirt as “an offense against order,” the bunkers, as vessels of public cleanliness, establish order, physically and metaphorically eliminating what is socially unacceptable.

The process undertaken to create the restroom component and the adjustments to the bunker to accommodate this addition follows a relationship of action and reaction by playing on their narrative through ironic detachment. The new additions imitate the actions of those who challenged the oppression while the bunker responds to this forceful movement by surrendering to the intrusion.



The view combines the process+narrative with the resulting form. On the right, a rally commemorating a statue erected in honor of Enver Hoxha. On the left, thousands of illegal immigrants who risked their lives to escape the social and political unrest following the fall of communism make their way to Italy. The new addition creates a crease between these two events standing on extreme ends and celebrates acts of freedom.


The view combines the process+narrative with the resulting form. A sequel to the collage Episode One: An Assassination Attempt, the new addition rises and cracks the self-inflicted isolation. Situated in the center of Tirana, it stands as a monument of freedom.