National Library of Kosovo: A Great Example of Late Yugoslavian Brutalism

The National Library of Kosovo is located in the capital Pristina. It was designed by Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjakovic and was opened in 1982.

The library was commissioned to be a unifying symbol between Albanian and Serbian Kosovars during a time when the tension between them was high. Both the Ottoman and Byzantine tradition was present in Kosovo therefore Mutnjakovic presented domes and cubes, which are the common features of the Ottoman and Byzantine architectural styles, to reflect the diverse heritage and cultural spirit of the region. The library, when it was first opened, met with mixed reactions but today it is regarded as a great example of the late Yugoslav brutalism. However, the same library is also often depicted as one of the world’s ugliest buildings.

National Library of Kosovo

The library was constructed with concrete, marble, and white plaster.

There are ninety-nine domes of different sizes distributed in a unique order to create a dynamic structure. Some claim that they resemble the traditional Albanian hats, or qeleshe. The facade of the building is covered with aluminum lattice wrapping. The metal grids are used as sunlight protectors for the readers. The cubes contribute to the compactness of the building, creating a sense of protection as they are also further reinforced with the aluminum net of hexagons.


The National Library of Kosovo was used as a refugee center for the Bosnian and Croatian refugees during the war.

When NATO intervened in 1999, the Serbian army was using it as a command center, during that time many historical books and collections were harmed. After the war, the library was reorganized to be in service with the help of international organizations such as UNESCO.

National Library of Kosovo
National Library of Kosovo
National Library of Kosovo

The interior of the Library

National Library of Kosovo