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Rossi, L., Pedata, L., 2021.

Drawings as form of knowledge. Re-presenting Gjirokastra.

Output Type:Chapter in a book
Publication:RETHINKING GJIROKASTRA. Can architecture and city planning stimulate hope and growth for shrinking cities?
Brief Description/Editor(s):Rossi, L., Aliaj, B., Dhamo, S.
Publisher:POLIS Press, Tirana

This paper introduces the relevance of using drawings, notations, and diagrams in analysing, observing, and reinterpreting shrinking cities. This year the 35th cycle PhD workshop was centered on the case of Gjirokastra (Centre, 2021) one of the main cities in south Albania with a high risk of depopulation. In the 1990s, more than a quarter of large cities worldwide shrank, and the phenomenon of urban depopulation has been studied and analysed worldwide with different theories on possible interventions (Hollander, 2018). Drawing a timeline around the concept of shrinking cities is quite complicated due to the different shrinkage typologies. Nevertheless, the research "Shrinking Cities" developed between 2002 and 2008 by Philipp Oswalt (Oswalt, Rieniets, & et al., 2005) gave a valuable contribution, and it was adopted as a background reference in several later investigations. In general, urban depopulation is caused by multiple factors like suburbanisation, deindustrialisation, and post-socialist change. In the architectural field, such factors can overcome their negative acceptation and become an opportunity to address Urban landscape design strategies.
One of the topics arising from this phenomenon is linked to the fact that any shrinking process leaves behind visible and invisible traces. The abandoned fields and buildings, and the Urban and social degradation are visible. The new vacant status of the urban system is also visible, and it can stimulate new informal uses and functionality, denoting a clear expression of City's and citizens' new needs. One of the characteristics of visible traces is the fact that they can be read and translated into data and drawings. On the other hand, the invisible traces are unattainable and illegible, like the withe canvas of an artist waiting to be pained. The task of an architect, especially the task of a PhD researcher, should be compared to the work of a sharp observer capable of reinterpreting the visible and the invisible traces through theoretical and practical tools. In the PhD workshop the traces left behind by population shrinkage have been investigated through drawings ,
In his 1992 Essay on "Drawing and Making in the Landscape Medium", James Corner observes how drawings are "intermediary and translatory medium(s)", and hold the possibility of being projective, notational and representational at the same time .