New uses for old bunkers #3 – Albania’s 750,000 concrete mushrooms
May 7, 2012 Leave a comment
It’s unlikely that anywhere else in the world can rival the sheer ubiquity of bunkers found in Albania. There rudimentary ‘mushrooms’ litter the landscape (both coastal and inland), with a bunker every few hundred yards. Many lie derelict, many have been co-opted into new mundane uses.
Here I present a selection of photos found on the internet and pay homage to Elian Stefa & Gyler Mydyti’s Concrete Mushrooms project (http://blog.concrete-mushrooms.com/) described here in their words:
“Concrete Mushrooms” is a project initiated as an idea for research by two Albanian graduate students at Politecnico di Milano, and the purpose was to emphasize the appreciable assets of Albania such as bunkers which are vast in number and across all the rich and beautiful landscape of Albania. Apart all the studies done about the history of Albania, the reason of building the bunkers all over the country, how the people of Albania nowadays coexists with them, how and why do they use them it is also thought of how the remaining bunkers can last their lives without being totally disappeared and can become the icon of a paranoid past transformed to the symbol of a bright future of the landscape of Albania.
Bunkers seem to be happy of being born and living in Albania, and above all proud to be Albanians. But in fact their happiness masks an enormous sorrow of the past which would be recovered by their contribution to Albania. Any of the “tourists” interested in adventures and nature, can enjoy natural resources of Albania by passing their nights in local at the same mobile cheap hostels without being obliged to carry their camping tents. Cheap hostel – that’s what the future function of the bunker could be having the same commodity anywhere in Albania, there is not just one, there are supposed to be around 750 000 bunkers in Albania.”
The Concrete Mushroom site provides a wealth of resources testifying to the origins, form and futures of Albania’s bunkers, including a clip from their documentary film, Kolonel Bunker and their 100 page, high quality brochure-study (cover and link follow below).
Through foregrounding Albania’s bunkers, Stefa and Mydyti hope that their project will invert this symbol of isolationist xenophobia into an invitation to eco-tourism; to give the bunkers value, rather than bearing them as a burden of a dark past.