Phase 1 Deadline: 10 November, 10.00 (local time)
Phase 2 Deadline: 10 December, 18.00 (local time)


Atelier Albania at the request of the Ministry of Culture and mandated by the office of the Prime Minister, announces an international urban design competition to collect design proposals for a Bypass Road in the UNESCO protected city of Gjirokastra. The introduction of a bypass road will influence directly the traffic in the historic centre of the UNESCO heritage city, which is intended to be experienced as a car-free and pedestrianized area.

The city of Gjirokastra is considered a unique city with regards to its urban and architectural composition. The main aim of this competition is to call for design proposals that will provide the Bypass Road trajectory and design, which after being constructed will take the traffic off the Bazaar area of Gjirokastra, by transforming it into a pedestrianized area. All these should be performed without tackling the character and authenticity of the area subject to this competition. This project aims at improving car mobility and returning the historical centre back to its identity.

Through this open call Atelier Albania is searching for multidisciplinary teams of architects, urban designers and planners, road engineers, transport and heritage experts that will generate tailor made and original proposals, highlighting and protecting the exiting historical and cultural values of the city, while at the same time offering intelligent solutions to the traffic and mobility issues of the city.

Through this competition, that is not merely an engineering question, it is aimed for an integrated solution. Even though the main object of the design proposal is the bypass, the design question is more than an engineering one. The design question brings together designers, engineers, transport and heritage consultants to propose an integrated approach to the question of Gjirokastra bypass.


It is the purpose of this competition that through the design of the Bypass Road, to make the Bazaar area a pedestrianized quarter whose historical character and elements will not be threatened any longer by car traffic. Through this project and its subsequent implementation, the mobility issues of historic centre of Gjirokastra will get an answer through design and not simply by engineering solutions as it is usually the case. The construction of this new circulation ring must be well integrated with the existing road system/pattern of the city, as well as it must assure the preservation and conservation of all historical, cultural and landscape values of Historical Centre and Protected Area of the city of Gjirokastra. The bypass when implemented will serve to all citizens and visitors of Gjirokastra, as well as it will keep the historical centre activities undisturbed by the traffic.

Contracting Authority

National Territorial Planning Agency is the Contracting Authority for this process, upon the request of the Ministry of Culture.

Area of Competition

In 2005 the city of Gjirokastra, otherwise identified as the “Stone-City”, is declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The castle, which dates back in the beginning of XIV century, is considered to be first nucleus of the city and forms the centre of the urban composition. The other part of the city lays in a sloppy terrain, which becomes a predominant factor in defining the dynamic character of the city. Terrain diversity has influenced the compositional design of neighbourhoods as separate units.

Until XVII century the bazaar represented the economical centre of the city. Years later, it was displaced in the current area where it is located nowadays, by creating a second centre, which was empowered as the real centre of the city only after the administrative functions of the castle were diminished. The city has a radial organization scheme, where all the roads of neighbourhoods converge in the centre.

The area, which is subject to this competition, is displayed in the map of the competition and it comprises the Historical Centre and the Protected Zone of the city of Gjirokastra.

Competition Questions

The competition will be built on these questions:

  • Which is the trajectory of Bypass Road that has the lowest impact in the area of intervention?
  • How to integrate the Bypass Road with the road system/network of the neighbourhoods, Historical Centre and the city itself?
  • How to design the Bypass Road of the city following the guideline, which protects, conserves and administrates the Historical Centre and Protected Zone?
  • How to design a road beyond mere engineering principles and make of it a ‘best design’ case?


The product of the competition will be the Design of the “Bypass Road of the city of Gjirokastra”, which is thought to be located in the surroundings of the Historical Centre and Protected Zone. The main purpose of its design is to transform the Bazaar into a pedestrianized area, accessible by the community and visitors. This competition aims at improving the mobility in the Historical Centre and Bazaar area, as well as making out of it again an economic centre attractive for businesses and other activities.

The participating teams are expected to provide creative, integrated design proposals and innovative solutions that will preserve the historical and cultural identity of the area, while facilitating mobility within and outside of it.

The competition is organised in two stages. First stage of the competition is based on the expression of interest and ends up with a short-list of best teams.

During the second stage, the short-listed competitors are required the following:

  • Study about the structure and urban morphology of the city of Gjirokastra;
  • Study the area of the competition and its surroundings based on its space, topographic, contextual features, as well as the types of interventions allowed in the area;
  • Analyse the road system/network by taking in consideration the terrain, roads’ width and configuration, density of monuments, population, activities and geological formation;
  • Analyse the context and propose a trajectory of the Bypass Road that has the lowest impact in the area and does not put in risk the landscape, cultural monuments, archaeological sites and public/green spaces;
  • Study in particular how the Bypass Road is connected with the context, in order to be harmoniously integrated with the area;
  • Foresee possible parking areas: ‘park & ride’ solutions;
  • Preserve and conserve the area based on the guideline of DCM No. 619, date 7.7.2015,
    which preserves, conserves and administrates the Historical Centre and Protected Zone;
  • Well-integrate the Bypass Road with the existing road system/network, by creating a car-free Bazaar access;
  • Propose a management plan of the road system nearby the Historical Centre, by identifying time intervals, types of cars, alternative accessing points;
  • Propose a project idea for the pavement and width of the Bypass Road of the city of Gjirokastra;
  • Estimate proposal costs;
  • Present an action plan;
  • Promote sustainability and innovation.


Atelier Albania is a unit of the National Territorial Planning Agency, mandated to identify alternative solutions and enrich architecture and planning by thinking beyond the typical planning framework. In this context, we stimulate and support the participation and collaboration of different interested groups of international and local professionals who will work closely together. We believe that this team-based collaboration will improve the way projects and research is informed with all the appropriate local knowledge as well as an international level of design standards. Moreover, we want to thinks of competitions as co-creative processes, where designers and local actors are involved in an interactive problem solving process.

Expected Results:

Phase I:

At this stage of short – listing, the candidates will present themselves by illustrating their capabilities, methodology and vision for the given subject and theme. Each submission will be reviewed carefully by members of the jury and the best teams will be selected based on qualification and evaluation criteria of Phase I.

These teams will be called to continue their work on a second phase. They will work to deliver a concept according to this brief’s general objectives and questions, based on a detailed information and project brief. Second phase or stage will be also based on elaborate information and brief that the short-listed competitors will receive from the organizers.

Phase 2:

At the stage of “Design Proposal”, each group of proposals will be carefully reviewed by members of the jury and, based on the criteria of evaluation of Phase 2. At the end, a winning proposal will be selected.

Teams of Local and Foreign Professionals:

Every international team is encouraged by the organizers to partner with a local team and each local team is encouraged to partner with an international counterpart. The client believes that to get contextual and visionary projects there is an inherent need for a vision of someone who does not know the site as well as the contextual knowledge of someone who is very familiar with the terrain.  We believe that such cooperation can increase the impact of the proposal and improve implementation. In applying for the first phase it is not a pre-selection criterion to have a local or international partner; having a partnership at this stage however is positive and can help to create a more coherent and contextualized vision which of course might boost the teams’ chances of selection.


The competition is open to all professional architects, urban designers or landscape architects, who are able to meet the following requirements:

  1. Be registered or recognized by an official accreditation body in the country of origin of the applicant; or
  2. Where recognition or registration law does not apply, the applicant is a member of a professional institution, the country of origin.

All applicants must provide proof of the validity of professional registration, recognition or membership in the Team Composition Declaration.

Each team should be composed of at least:

  • Architect/ landscape architect/ urban designer – TEAM LEADER
  • Road Engineer – consultant
  • Transport Engineer – consultant
  • Heritage expert – consultant

All team members must be identified in the Declaration of Team Composition. Details about suitability are given at addendum nr.6 of the Standard Tender Document.

STD can be downloaded at

Application Documents

Entrants must submit a number of documents, in order to be in compliance with the requirements of the competition for the first and second phase of the contest.

Documents Phase 1:

  • Declaration of Team Composition,
  • Primary Staff CVs (architect/landscape architect/ urban designer, road engineer, transport expert, heritage expert)
  • Methodology,
  • Vision Statement,
  • All other documents relevant to application according to the Agency for Public Procurements

Details about suitability are given at addendum nr.6 of the STD.

Documents Phase 2:

  • Design Proposal according to Terms of Reference and requirements of the Contracting Authority

Selection Criteria

The jury will select the applicants of the first phase based on these initial qualification criteria:

  • Clarity and fulfilment of the required documents for Phase 1
  • Professional composition of the team (architect/urban designer/ landscape architect, road engineer, transport and heritage expert)
  • Similar experience of the team and its main members
  • Clarity and efficiency of the proposed methodology
  • Relevance of what is proposed to the scope of the competition and issues of the site

Details about suitability are given at addendum nr.6 of the STD.

Evaluation Criteria

The jury will evaluate the applications of Phase 2 based on the following criteria:

  • Creativity
  • High implementation factor
  • Links and impact of the proposal to the context
  • The cost-impact ratio (low cost, high impact)

Final Product

The competition will end with the selection of a well-equipped team, who will be able to engage in the post-competition process.

The winning team will be engaged in the next phase, which consists in the preparation of the feasibility study based on the winning proposal.

Post-Competition Process

To coordinate better, the work between the winning team and the client of the project, organizers anticipate the first meeting between the team, the client and local stakeholders during the process of elaborating the project idea. The underlining reason is to bring together the design team and all the stakeholders and to share among them ideas, proposals and suggestions. This meeting will be conducted in Gjirokastra.

Competition Awards

The competition winner will receive a cash prize of 30,000 Euro.

The winning team will begin contract negotiations with the Client for an agreement to prepare the feasibility study based on the winning proposal, according to the procedures specified in STD.



Competition Type: Urban Design Competition with a Shortlist
Phase 1: Open Call for Interest
Phase 1 Requirements: As PER Addendum No.6 of the Standard Tendering
Advantage Criteria: Local-Foreign Architecture studio partnership
Jury Evaluation: Short Listed Teams
Phase 2 : Design Proposal
Phase 2 Requirements Submission of design proposal
In-Between Phase: Site visit and workshop with local stakeholders
Jury Evaluation: Best Design and fulfilment of Criteria
Prizes: Prize of the winner 30,000 Euro andContract Negotiation for  Feasibility Study




Open call for interest: 27 October
Phase 1 Deadline: 10 November, 10.00 (local time)
Short-listing Announcement: 12 November
Idea-Design Competition Official Invitation: 19 November
Preparation of Idea-Design: 12 November – 10 December
Workshop in Gjirokastra: 27 November
Finalization of Brief and any further planning: 19 November
Phase 2 Deadline: 10 December, 16.00 (local time)
Public Exhibition: 18 – 21 December
Jury Evaluation: 21 December
Announcement of Results: 21 December 2015



Feasibility Study Contract Negotiation January-February 2016
Contract Signing for Feasibility Study: February 2016
Feasibility Study Submission: 2016



Short listing phase will be conducted via electronic system to website:
Tender documents may be obtained electronically in the same website:
Foreign competitors, in order to use electronic procurement system should register on-line as an economic operator website:
Further instructions for international competitors may be obtained from the user manual “EPS user manual – Economic Operators”, which can be downloaded from the


Each of the Terms of Reference can be found on the official website of the organizer of the competition:

Or, in the pages dedicated to these competitions:

You can also contact us at:

Information regarding procurement procedure should be asked through electronic procurement system.