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ADS8: Data Matter – The Gaming Edition

Alba Imeri

Alba is studying her first year in MA Architecture at the Royal College of Art. She graduated from Central Saint Martins (BA Hons, 2018). During this time, she was awarded a scholarship for the AA visiting school at Hooke Park working on a collaborative project based in the Dorset Wildlife Trust where she learned fundamental methods of making. She is based in London originating from Kosovo, where she often draws inspiration from for much of her practice. 

After completing her BA Architecture, she participated and shortlisted for Stephen Lawrence’s 18-mile marker (2019) and worked in a practice sitting on the threshold of architecture and participation-based design, she often looks at the way architecture can serve as a mediative and interactive body.   

In ADS 8: Data Matter – The Gaming Edition, her project focuses on confronting lived experience embodied in ruin and warfare, reconstructing spaces from memory. 


Degree Details

School of Architecture

ADS8: Data Matter – The Gaming Edition

Witnessing the present social and geographical tensions within Kosovo, Alba applies her personal experiences to identify the limitations of boundaries within the physical landscape. From investigating the untold stories of Kosovo’s destroyed landscapes to researching the present disintegration of ethnic communities, she draws on the connection of cultural identity and the fabric of the built environment. Alba is interested in the agency of digital environments in retelling experiences and memory of ritual and cultural traditions. She uses her experience at a participation-based design practice combined with digital tools such as game engines, photogrammetry and 3D model making to visualise space from testimonies.

Visualising testimony: Bazaar, Prishtina — “The shops were of modest unrendered colour, however on the day of Bajram (Eid). Owners would take chalk rocks, soak them in water and colour the facades white”. The testimony recalls a dismantled bazaar, functioning as a space for socialising, consuming and visiting the center of the city. In order to understand the spatial quality of the bazaar, an immersive digital landscape was produced. This visualisation was curated using several collections of sound scapes from primary and found footage.
Visualising testimony: Hamam of Hajji Beg, Peja — Compared to the bazaar, the Hamam was more violently attacked affecting routines of daily ritual for prayer goers. As one of the oldest objects of Islamic culture in Peja, I began to reconstruct the phenomena of light, sound and heat conditions through visual effects in Unity to shed light on its ritualistic importance. The Hamam in arabic translates to ‘the spreader of warmth’ and the reconstruction looks at ways to reflect its spatially bound temperature gradation.

Over 600,000 Kosovar Albanians were displaced, leaving behind their homes and every day identity embedded into the fabric of Kosovo. Places of worship were dismantled, homes were tampered and burned, every day identity had ruptured along with physical space and coexistence between ethnic communities. This project focuses on how memories of culture and tradition survive displacement and conflict. The project visualises space solely through the compiling of existing visual digital data due to limitations of coronavirus and certain buildings no longer existing in the physical environment.  

The project will continue to question: 

What are the ways in which memories can trace out common spaces?  

How can a game engine offer a way to confront past and present realities? 

How can virtual reconstruction offer a dialogue to learn about multiple traditions of the past in different communities in Kosovo? 


Network Coverage — News feed from 1998 and 1999 - A buildup of tension from a removal of Kosovo’s autonomy led to protest and conflict. The news channels and prosecution videos provided updates on displacement of civilians, destruction of architecture and national intervention from NATO lasting just under 4 months, the last day of air strikes ending on June 10, 1999.
Mapping Effects to the Physical Landscape — Mapping from Kosovo’s Cultural Heritage Survey displays the number of religious monuments damaged/destroyed between March 1998- June 1999. Witness testimonials discuss the destruction of mosques beginning on the day of Eid. The research shows visible effects of warfare on the physical landscape. Using these findings, the research aims to explore how memories of culture and tradition have survived displacement and conflict.



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