The Planning of Socialist Urbanity: The New City of Kukës in Albania

Pompejano, Federica

Ngā Pūtahitanga / Crossings: A Joint Conference of SAHANZ and the Australasian UHPH Group

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After the end of the Second World War, Albania stepped into one of the harshest dictatorships in Europe during the twentieth century. The communist regime led by Enver Hoxha soon implemented large modernisation and industrialisation schemes, transforming the entire territory into a vast construction site. Among those modernisation processes, the exploitation of the huge water network to produce hydroelectric energy was one of the regime’s main objectives, to supply electricity to the entire country by 1971. Thus, between 1960s and the 1980s, the Drin River, one of the main rivers in Albania, was deeply transformed into a source of hydroelectrical power. After the construction of the hydropower plant “HEC-Vaut të Dejës,” the hydropower plant “HEC-Drita e Partisë” followed on the upper part of the river and with its dam forming the reservoir that nowadays is called Lake of Fjerza. The filling of the reservoir caused the flooding of the old citadel of Kukës, submerged by the creation of the new lake. As consequence, to reiterate and imprint the ideal of a new classless society, the communist regime planned to build from scratch the new city of Kukës, hence reflecting in its urban planning and architecture the socialist ideology. Through the analysis of archival sources and literature on the case study, and the extensive documentation collected during recent fieldwork activities, the paper aims to explore how the entanglement of architecture and urban planning took part in shaping the new socialist urbanity in one of the most remote mountainous areas of Albania.