ALBANIA/KOSOVO – Within the second RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals co-financed by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, Open Labs Albania in partnership with IPKO Foundation, implemented the project “Preserving WB Cities Identity through Participatory Architecture”.
The project took place from November 2019 to November 2020 and helped young people explore the urban development challenges in Albania and Kosovo from the lenses of youth participation and engagement. Youth discussed the importance of strengthening participatory and collaborative action, both online and offline, to influence decision making for the development of their cities.
“The main intent of the project was to activate young people’s conscience and responsibility towards urban issues of the cities they live in. Through this exchange of knowledge youth realized the similarities and at the same time differences in between their cities’ urban development, helping them come together on a common ground,” Ms Jora Kasapi, Project Coordinator, stated.
During the activities, youth were provided with the opportunity to learn more about urban development in the capitals Tirana and Pristina by exploring also the possibilities for youth cooperation in the Western Balkans.
“Young people engaged in learning about the architecture of some interesting buildings, learning on Wikimedia commons, Github, OpenStreetMap and used this knowledge to contribute to the common platform preservingwb.city we created. Some of them expressed the desire to go and visit these buildings, appreciated the information shared and got the chance to know new people, wishing to have further similar events about this project and topic in the future,” Ms Kasapi, added.
Given the dynamic and creative nature of the project, youth felt empowered to take a leading role and contribute further to the urban development in their cities.
“I hope there will be other more events related to this project, that make me love architecture even more. I would be more than happy to get to know other people and contribute to it in the future through my illustrations,” Ms Tiziana Loja, project participant, highlighted.
Speaking of the key insights and lessons learned, Ms Rexhina Basha, another project participant, added: “The project really motivated me to continue my contribution in conserving the values of my city. It helped me understand the importance of participatory architecture in a situation where the two cities’ identities are left out of the spotlight.”
By raising awareness of the importance of youth cooperation and engagement in urban development in the region, this project helped to also raise young people’s social accountability toward their cities, encouraging them to take more responsibility and to actively contribute to their communities.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.