The dominant example of Kosovo’s Modern Architecture

Presentation of the National Library of Kosovo, an icon of the Modern Architecture Heritage of Kosovo

The building of the National University Library should be a culminating expression of our architecture. Its landscaped planning, its environment, and interior demand that the articulation of space, its compact structure, shapes, light and shades, and elevation should carry associations of the traditional buildings of this region. The motifs of cubes, spheres, and columns represent a contemporary application of the autochthonous architectural inspiration of the people.

Planning and technical aspects of the building of the National University Library in Prishtina, Andrija Mutnjaković.

Photo: Samir Karahoda

Photo: Samir Karahoda

Kosovar modernist architecture marked its presence among the achievements of 20th century when Udo Klutermann included the case of the Kosovo National Library in his chapter on “Architecture in the Former Yugoslavia”. Klutermann divided the modernist architecture built in the former Yugoslavia into two sections; in the northern part, including Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia, and the south, including Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. This way Klutermann draws parallels among the various historical and religious influences of these countries before Yugoslavia was formed.[1] More precisely, he shows the potential impact of Christianity and Islam on the way modernist architecture developed separately in certain republics, following the ideology of the time.

[1] Klutermann, U. (1993): Architecture in the 20th Century. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New York. p.224

Photo: Samir Karahoda

Photo: Samir Karahoda

Following the tendency of revitalizing the heritage of Islamic architecture in the ranks of modernist architecture, the activity of the Croatian architect in Kosovo is noted by Klutermann as follows: ‘’…and Andrija Mutnjaković (1929), who is engaged in new concepts of urban planning and has as his major work the National University Library in Priština of 1980, which programmatically demonstrates the revival of a contemporary Islamic architecture’’.[1]

[1] Ibid.

Photo: Samir Karahoda

Photo: Samir Karahoda

But in fact, Mutnjaković’s work in Kosovo is a much more complex example than this quote suggests, in terms of conceptual and architectural tendencies, as well as architectural expression through the functional, constructive and innovative selection of materials. In the list of the most prominent buildings of modernist architecture in Kosovo, the National Library holds the first place among such buildings with regard to being present in public discourse. It has been discussed several times in regional magazines, taking its place among the ranks of  the icons of modernist architecture in the former Yugoslavia.  This media fame, if it can be called as such, is dedicated to the values of the building itself and the attributes of the architect Andrija Mutnjaković, who was present in the architectural scene of the time and also through his writings and analyses.

The complete article is published in Autumn 2018 issue of Piranesi No. 40/Vol. 26.

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