Butrint vision

The Butrint National Park Visitor Center must convey the Outstanding Universal Values of this World Heritage Site; serve as an educational forum and community gathering place; and be a regional hub for tourists to promote other nearby natural and cultural attractions

Kengo Kuma & Associates’s winning proposal aspires to be world-class architecture and a unique statement for the site and Albania — raising Butrint’s international profile and promoting a wider appreciation of Albania’s many cultural and archaeological treasures.

Teams were challenged will be to create a thought-provoking yet practical design — one that is efficient and functional but with charisma too.

The design must respect the World Heritage Site and Outstanding Universal Values as well as the wider National Park, being sympathetic to the landscape and built cultural heritage, satisfying the international cultural heritage community, including UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS Albania and ICOMOS International.

View from the ancient city towards Butrint Lake

Project Objectives


  • Create an exemplary design — thought-provoking, charismatic and practical — that respects a landscape of national, historic and cultural significance.
  • Enhance the visual and sensory pleasure of arrival; and introduce new viewpoints through wayfinding.
  • Engage visitors with Butrint’s history and literature using new interpretative approaches to create a powerful learning and educational environment and enhance the experience of exploring the WHS and wider National Park.
  • Demonstrate sustainable place-making and conservation: protecting the surrounding heritage, archaeology and landscape.
  • Be an exemplar of sustainability — from design through to operations and use — and show understanding of local climatic conditions, including rising sea levels.
  • Engage with and support the local community and economy; specifically, improve communication and improve opportunities available to local artisans.
  • Serve as a model and set a standard for other cultural organizations within Albania.
  • Raise national and international awareness of the WHS, Butrint National Park, and Albania’s wider cultural and tourism offers.


  • Create a design able to cope with projected annual visitor numbers of around 400,000 by 2030 (with the majority anticipated over the summer months).
  • Incorporate a construction methodology driven by buildability; innovative use of local resources; participatory design methods; and minimal construction impact on archaeology and landscape.
  • Provide staff with an efficient, highly functional workplace where they can work collaboratively.
  • Ensure security and safety for visitors, staff, and artifacts.