Photo: In Albania Communist Era Monument Became a Technological Hub. Source: mvrdv.com
In Albania, a pyramid-shaped museum constructed in the 1980s to commemorate the lengthy rule of communist dictator Enver Hoxha is undergoing a transformation into a hub for technical education, with a focus on training young people in the field of IT.
Originally, architects, including Hoxha's daughter Pranvera, designed the building in an Egyptian style pyramid with the intention of glorifying the leader as a pharaoh. The museum was completed in 1988, three years after Hoxha's death and two years before the fall of the communist regime in Albania, which gave way to democracy. After the change in power, the building fell into disrepair.
Leon Cika, one of the museum's original curators, said that at the time it was completed, as Soviet-dominated regimes across Eastern Europe were starting to crumble, he sensed it would prove "the last shovel for a monument to communism" in Albania.
Following the collapse of communism, the pyramid's sloping sides, preserved during the reconstruction, were used by children as slides due to the absence of playgrounds.
The modernized pyramid now offers several staircases that tourists can climb to enjoy panoramic views of Tirana, which has transformed into a vibrant modern city during the years of democratization. The cubic interior is formed by stacked containers, which will serve as classrooms, rising to several floors beneath the original glass dome.
For many years, Albanians were divided on how to adapt the building to fit the evolving democracy: some were outraged by Hoxha's repressive legacy and demanded the pyramid's demolition, while others wanted to preserve it as an architectural symbol. In the subsequent years, the interior of the pyramid housed a nightclub, a television channel, and even a NATO representation (during the alliance's intervention to halt the war in neighboring Kosovo in 1999). Ultimately, it was decided to give the structure a second chance, transforming it from a tourist attraction into a socially beneficial facility.
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