In 2018 The Telegraph published a list of what it proposed as ‘the world’s ugliest buildings’. Prominent on the list – as it is on the Prishtina landscape – was the National Library building.
I don’t think this building is ugly. I think it’s intriguing, not least for the many theories about how its striking design came about. Some say that the 99 white domes represent the plis white felt hats worn in traditional Albanian costume – a sign of ethnic pride when this building was opened as part of the Albanian-language University of Prishtina which from 1969 gave Kosovo’s Albanians the first chance to study in their mother tongue.
Others say that the domes represent brains…
Either way, you’ll notice that the ‘brains’ or symbols of Albanian ethnicity are behind bars, which was apparently deliberate too.
The building looks particularly striking at dusk when the domes are lit up from within. But it’s also worth going inside for the 1970s architectural detail – the textured walls in the auditorium for better acoustics and the stunning sunbeam mosaic of stones making up the floor in the foyer.