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ALBANIA

Tirana's artist mayor turns crumbling capital into painters' canvas

2 min

What to do with a city full of grim, high-rise flats? That was the dilemma that - like many post-Soviet cities - the Albanian capital of Tirana was faced with after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Its inhabitants seem to have found the answer: elect an artist as mayor. Read more and see the transformation in photos...

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Before and after: a block of flats in Tirana. Photo by Timo Arnall.

What to do with a city full of grim, high-rise flats? That was the dilemma that - like many post-Soviet cities - the Albanian capital of Tirana was faced with after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Its inhabitants seem to have found the answer: elect an artist as mayor.

When artist Edi Rama was elected mayor of Albania's capital in 2000, he decided to transform the city into something, aesthetically speaking, entirely different. Geometric patterns, polka dots and giant trees started appearing on the walls of the city's five-storey buildings. Today the city looks completely different from the one left by Stalinist tyrant Enver Hoxha two decades ago, even if the inside of the high-rise flats has changed very little.

After initially designing some of the drawings himself, Mayor Rama invited many foreign artists, as well as local students and children, to participate in the city's visual face-lift. Their drawings were reproduced on Tirana's facades.

Nine years on, Tirana has become a colourful and vibrant city, with a population that has grown fivefold to one million people since 1989. Rama, elected World Mayor in 2004 (the world's greatest mayor award), is now serving his third term as mayor in the capital.

Before the transformation. Posted on Flickr by Timo Arnall.

And after. Posted on Flickr by Timo Arnall.

Photo posted by Valeria Mannarelli on Flickr.

 

Photo posted byValeria Mannarelli on Flickr.

Photo posted byValeria Mannarelli on Flickr.

Photo posted by Timo Arnall on Flickr.

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