Profile of Mrs Eltjana SHKRELI University Duisburg-Essen

Eltjana SHKRELI

General research interests

Urban Systems

PhD/Postdoctoral Research Title

The Polycentric Development Synergies of Tirana-Durres-Elbasan, a Hub for the Balkan Region

PhD Abstract

Albania, as one of the most isolated country of the East Block was extremely closed and had some very distinctive characteristics such as the prohibition of private property, restraining of urbanization and the development of rural areas (1/3 of population in urban zones and 2/3 in rural ones), inconsistency between housing demand and supply, inheritance of a total collapsed economy, everything was tightly controlled inside a centralized system. After the fall of communist regime in 1991 Albania embraced the principles of an egalitarian society and the free market.

Since 2 decades the country is experiencing a long transition by shaping an urban space with conflicts, urban stresses and vulnerabilities. The urban growth was not smooth and gradual as in developed countries, but abrupt and volatile. It has engendered high informality (40% in national level), urban expansion and quick territorial transformations.
The major population movements were characterized by a lack of policies regarding internal and international migration. Albania's migration flow has, since the early 1990s, been five times higher than the average migration flow in developing countries. Till 2004, approximately 25% of the total population, or over 35% of the labor force, has emigrated. (Migration Institute Policy, Aug 2004).

These last twenty years the most attracted area in the whole country is continuing to be Tirana-Durres Region, the hub is serving as a gateway function of the whole country, Adriatic Coast and in the Balkan Region. Covering the two counties (qarku) of Tirana and Durres, this area is the home of the country’s capital and more or less ¼ of national population (approximately 1 million); the geographical position in the west Albania near the coast allow more accessibility through the main port of Durres and the only airport ‘Mother Teresa’ respectively; the urban services in this Region offer much better quality than in hinterland of Albania. All these arguments have generated a high pressure of an unsustainable development, related mainly to the rapid urbanization and the urban sprawl. Meanwhile the Albanian planning system was caught unaware due to the ‘brain’ migration and unable to supply the land needed to accommodate the growth.
Nowadays this Region has generated a complex socio-spatial system and an urban development pattern causing negative impacts on the environment and the quality of life, decreasing the open space, generating low-density development, inefficient, suburban development around the periphery of cities.etc. Since we left a centralized communism regime we continue considering mentally concentric spatial forms and vertical social structures (top-down), meanwhile we live physically in a dispersed city-region and need a horizontal social structure (bottom-up).