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National Library in Prishtina

Pristina, Serbia
1 of 11

The National Library in Pristina, Kosovo was designed by Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjakovic and opened in 1982. The library, with its 73 small domes, was supposed to be the focal point of the complex of university buildings.

When Mutnjakovic was commissioned to design a library for the ex-Yugoslavian province, the tension between Albanian and Serbian Kosovars was already palpable. Looking for a unifying symbol, he came up with the cube and dome, common features of the Ottoman and Byzantine architectural styles that define the appearance of the region. The author's architectural concept was deeply influenced from architectural regional elements such as cube and dome, two main geometric shapes coming from byzantine and ottoman tradition very present in the Kosovo. Ninety-nine domes of different sizes are distributed in unique order, creating the dynamic structure with multiplied elements of different size. Metal grid used as sunlight protector helps create pleasant environment for readers within the library. It acts at the same time as decoration element coming from Kosovo filigree, relating closer the building with local tradition.

From above, the library looks like a motley cluster of cubes, varying in size and height, rather like a village. The domes supply even, natural light to the reading rooms. The cube shape contributes to the compactness and the sense of protection, which is further reinforced by the aluminum net of hexagons that is draped over the building.

By the time NATO intervened in 1999, Mutnjakovic's library had become the commando headquarters of the Serbian army.

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ziggurat, August 2nd, 2021
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