Overview of modernist architecture in Kosovo, a fading architectural heritage

The Modern Architecture of Yugoslavia has recently been a focus of international visual presentations, being discussed in various professional forums. However. Kosovo is generally missing in this context, despite the presence of significant examples of modernist architecture. Moreover, the modern architecture of Kosovo is hardly found in publications, exhibitions or other forms of media.

Media Building »Rilindja«, Prishtina, 1971 architect: Georgi Konstatinovski photo: Afrim Spahiu

Media Building »Rilindja«, Prishtina, 1971
architect: Georgi Konstatinovski
photo: Afrim Spahiu

Kosovo, which after World War Two remained (under Serbian Federation) part of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia was constructed and deconstructed several times in the name of progress and prosperity, with the nation working hard to adopt influences from neighboring countries. This process was adopted under the name of modernity and the construction of a modern identity in Kosovo. In these political and social circumstances, the influence of Yugoslav architecture, dominated.[1] However, it is Byzantine and Islamic architecture that has given Kosovo most of the iconic buildings in today’s collective memory, such as churches, mosques, Turkish baths, open bazaars and so on, while various political movements have forced major changes in Kosovo’s architecture and cultural identity. Kosovo cities, that until late 1940 maintained their medieval structure, begin to change dramatically in the name of modernity in the post-war period.

[1] Gjinolli, I., Kabashi, L., (2015): Kosovo Modern – an architectural primer. National Gallery of Kosovo,  Pristina. p.28

Youth and Sports Centre »Boro and Ramiz«, Prishtina, 1976 architects: Živorad Jankovič, Halid Muhasilovič, Srečko Ešpek photo: Afrim Spahiu

Youth and Sports Centre »Boro and Ramiz«, Prishtina, 1976
architects: Živorad Jankovič, Halid Muhasilovič, Srečko Ešpek
photo: Afrim Spahiu

The spirit of modernity brought the biggest transition to Kosovo cities through the process of urban regeneration. In this period, with the new administrative system, there was a greater demand for adequate infrastructure. Through various legal acts, many private properties became public properties in order to help in the development of new administrative centers. In this spirit, new urban cores were designed, differentiating themselves from the pre-existing historical centers.[1] As a result of the empowerment of the labor force, the opening of factories, promotion of education and employment in various administrative positions, the number of people in the cities of Kosovo began to increase.[2] Therefore, it was understandable that there was a pressing need for the construction of new city centers, the growing of cities as part of a  new urban movement, the construction of major number of industrial and public buildings, the development of new neighborhoods and the development of the touristic points.

[1] Gjinolli, I., (2015): Public Space in Kosovo – Transformations Through History. PhD diss. Graz University of Technology, Graz,p.156-158

[2] Ismajli, R., Kraja, M., (2011): Akademia e Shkencave dhe e Arteve të Kosovës – Kosova, vështrim monografik. ASHAK,  Pristina. p.131-145

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

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