_Bed & Bunker_
Injecting a new lease of life into this ubiquitous sign of the oppressive 40 year regime of Enver Hoxha over Albania, is the aim of the research project ‘Bed & Bunker’.
Between 1950 and 1985 over 700,000 concrete bunkers sprouted throughout the small country of Albania, like “concrete mushrooms”. Constructed to protect the country from the threat of foreign invasion, and thus virtually indestructible, the bunkers were never put to their intended use. The invaders never came, and the bunkers remain as physical reminders of the oppressive paranoid imagination of the past communist ruler.
Some have been put to new use, like storage areas, beach huts, barns and even restaurants, others have been colourfully decorated. However, any concerted effort at converting them has been either abandoned or nipped at the bud by the post-communist military.
‘Bed & Bunker’ is one such effort. The project was born out of the diploma thesis of Iva Shtrepi, an Albanian interior design student at the FH Mainz, Germany. The research project developed into a collaboration between students of the FH Mainz and of the POLIS University of Tirana, with the proposal of a model to adapt the bunkers into basic accommodation for tourists and travellers. With the dual aim of putting the bunkers to good use and providing some infrastructure for supporting and encouraging tourism. ” to reverse the formerly negative intent of the concrete buildings and leverage the underdeveloped touristically (sic) economy.” (Bed & Bunker)
In September 2007 the students built the first prototype in the region of Lezhe, approximately 70 kilometers north of Tirana, using economical everyday materials and simple detailing.
For reasons not made clear to the students, shortly before completion (just weeks before the planned opening ceremony/party) the construction was ordered to stop. Attempts at obtaining information about the current state of the project have unfortunately proven futile.
FURTHER READING:Concrete Mushrooms Blog Research Project – Public Draft