Enhancing Public Spaces, Mitrovica

Each GEN Z Series interview takes us to a new city to marvel its beautiful existence in our universe. We travel to Mitrovica, popularly known as Kosovska Mitrovica. The beautiful city is surrounded by Kopaonik, Rogozna, Mokna, and Çyçavica mountains. The northern city is the administrative centre of Mitrovica District. It is interesting to note that during the Middle Ages, Kosovo played a significant role in the Byzantine and Serbian Empires. However, the modern city was established during the Ottoman Empire during the 17th Century.

I meet Kosovar architect Zanafille Ibrahimi, a 2021 graduated Master of Architecture from University of Prishtina, Kosovo. She is currently working as Assistant Project Manager at Spaxel, Prishtina. Zanafille comes across as a passionate architect, who loves designing spaces that harmonizes aesthetics and functionality to benefit the users. She enthuses, “My academic journey has equipped me with the knowledge and skills to contribute meaningfully to the architectural landscape. As I embark on the next phase of my career, I aim to merge the lessons learned from my families’ roots and academic pursuits, creating spaces that will tell stories to inspire the world (smiles).”

City Centre – Location II

Zanafille Ibrahimi informs, “My father was a prominent figure in the wood processing business. I often watched my father’s craftsmanship transforming functional and beautiful creations during my growing up years. My loving mother, a dedicated housewife takes care of the whole family with her warmth, love and care. My upbringing in the rich cultural diverse city of Mitrovica has greatly influenced my perspective on architecture. The amalgamation of history and modernity in my hometown serves as a wellspring of inspiration for my design philosophy.”

Johnny D interacts with Zanafille Ibrahimi to explore her interesting quest in the world of architecture and her thesis ‘Integration of Temporary and Modular Architecture as a Solution for the Formation/Activation of Communities’ to enhance public spaces in Kosovo.

Site Plan – Position of the Pavilions

What was your childhood ambition? Did you always wanted to become an architect?

My childhood ambition was to be a creator. From an early age, I found myself drawn to the world of art and creation, fascinated by the ability to bring ideas to life through innovative and visually compelling means. While I may not have explicitly known that I would become an architect in future, the seed of my passion for creation was firmly planted. During my formative years, the realm of architecture emerged as the perfect avenue to gather and channelize my diverse creative interests. Architecture, with its fusion of design, aesthetics and functionality, became the canvas where I could weave together my love for art and creation. It allowed me to envision and construct spaces that would not only serve practical purposes, but also convey a narrative, making architecture the ideal vessel for my childhood ambitions.

In retrospect, while the path to becoming an architect may not have been a linear one, it has been a fulfilling journey where my childhood aspirations found a meaningful and tangible expression (smiles).

Pavilion Floating Cubes

How has architecture influenced your life as a student?

Architecture has profoundly influenced my life as a student by fostering a keen sense of observation and an appreciation for the blend of form and function. Beyond the classroom, it has shaped the way I perceive the world. Additionally, the collaborative nature of architectural projects has honed my teamwork and interdisciplinary skills, enriching my ability to work effectively with diverse perspectives.

On a personal level, architecture has nurtured my creativity and problem-solving acumen, proving valuable in both academic and real-world contexts. Overall, the study of architecture has been a dynamic and transformative journey, contributing significantly to my holistic development as a student and future architect.

Pavilion Floating Cubes – II

Briefly tell us about your University and the Course.

I pursued my education at the University of Prishtina ‘Hasan Prishtina’. The Course encompassed a diverse range of subjects, including design, theoretical architecture, History of architecture, urban planning, interior design, constructive studies, environmental sustainability, leveraging digital design tools and insights into professional practice. The curriculum provided a holistic and multifaceted understanding of the discipline. It equipped me with the knowledge and skills necessary for a nuanced approach to architectural practice. The University’s commitment to academic excellence and the well-rounded nature of the Course, covering both creative and pragmatic aspects, played a pivotal role in shaping my foundation as an architect.

Location I – Park behind the Multifuncional Centre – OmniSport

Briefly describe the significance of your project with the ‘Title of the Project and Site Location’.

The project, titled ‘Integration of Temporary and Modular Architecture as a Solution for the Formation/Activation of Communities’, holds profound significance in addressing the vital role of public spaces in urban development, particularly in the city of Mitrovica, Kosovo. The project acknowledges the intrinsic value of public spaces as catalysts for the city’s identity, serving as communal hubs where diverse activities unfold and social connections flourish. In this context, the emphasis on ensuring access and integration for marginalized groups aligns with the project’s commitment to inclusivity, recognizing that commercial centers may not universally appeal or be accessible to everyone.

Pavilion Cubes – I

The integration of temporary and modular architecture emerges as a strategic solution to enhance public spaces, presenting a flexible and cost-effective approach. Mitrovica, like many cities in Kosovo, faces resource constraints, making the cost efficiency of temporary architecture particularly pertinent. The project aims to contribute to the evolution of Mitrovica’s public spaces by identifying key areas and proposing pavilions tailored to the unique needs of each location and its users.

Pavilion Cubes Inside View – I

By focusing on flexibility and attractiveness, the project seeks to not only improve the quality of public spaces, but also elevate social life and foster collaboration among communities. Through this endeavor, the project aligns with the imperative for Kosovo municipalities’ urban planning departments to review and invest adequately in public spaces, recognizing their pivotal role in shaping a vibrant and inclusive urban environment.

Pavilion Cubes Inside View – II

Which National or International architect has inspired / influenced you? Please specify as to why?

The national architecture studio ‘Architecture for Humans’ stands out as a key inspiration for my architectural perspective. Their human-centric design approach aligns with my belief in architecture’s power to positively impact communities. Alongside international influences from ‘We Made That’ and ‘The Decorators’” uniquely emphasizes local relevance, highlighting the importance of balancing global innovation with a deep connection to the specific needs of communities. In essence, these influences collectively shape my commitment to creating architecture that is both impactful and contextually rooted.

Location I – Park behind the Multifuncional Centre – OmniSport – II

As an Intern, what is the most important lesson(s) you have learned from senior architects, while being a part of a project?

As an intern, the most crucial lesson I have learned from senior architects is the importance of a holistic approach to architecture. They emphasize to consider not only design elements, but also broader contextual factors, including social and environmental aspects. Effective communication and teamwork have been highlighted as essential components for project’s success. Additionally, I have gained insights into the significance of adaptability and problem-solving in navigating unforeseen challenges. Overall, the experience has underscored that architecture goes beyond design, requiring a thoughtful and collaborative approach to create meaningful and functional spaces.

Pavilion Evergreen Retreat Seating – I

What role do you perform as Architectural BIM Designer at Spaxel?

As an Architectural BIM Designer at Spaxel, I play a multifaceted role in the development of prefabricated façade systems, particularly focusing on EIFS – Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems. My responsibilities encompass detailed design work, ensuring that the designs adhere to passive housing requirements. Beyond this, I actively contribute to addressing site requests related to various architectural trades. Collaborating closely with cross-functional teams, such as estimating, procurement and structural engineers, I work to foster a multidisciplinary approach, ensuring comprehensive and coordinated project outcomes.

Pavilion Evergreen Retreat Seating – II

Hostile architecture is an eyesore and fast changing the urban landscape of prominent cities around the world. Architecture is meant to benefit the people / users at large, but the effects of hostile architecture are targeting people and depicting wickedness of the society and the architecture field. Elucidate your perspective about this unwanted trend in urban landscape.

Hostile architecture is a disconcerting trend that contradicts the core purpose of architecture – to benefit people. Instead of creating inclusive and welcoming spaces, it often targets specific activities or demographics, reflecting a lack of empathy in the design process. This trend exacerbates social inequalities and portrays a darker side of the society. Addressing this issue requires a shift in the architectural mindset towards creating spaces that are functional and considerate of diverse urban needs. Recognizing and raising awareness about the consequences of hostile architecture is crucial for advocating a more compassionate and people-centric approach in urban design.

Pavilion Floating Cubes – III

Which significant aspects of the global platform ‘zerobeyond – the new frontier!’ did you liked the most, and why?

One of the most significant aspects of ‘zerobeyond – the new frontier!’ that I appreciate the most is its commitment to providing opportunities for young professionals to showcase their works. This inclusive approach not only nurtures emerging talent, but also contributes to the diversity and dynamism of the architectural community. By offering a platform for the voices and creations of young professionals, the global platform actively fosters innovation and brings fresh perspectives to the forefront. This emphasis on supporting and highlighting the work of the next generation aligns with my belief in the importance of empowering emerging professionals in the field of architecture.

Details of Construction System – I

Local charm of cities has diminished due to Modern Architecture as every city looks alike and similar. How should architects / urban planners / landscape architects modernize cities, while maintaining the local charm intact?

Preserving the local charm of cities during modernization requires a thoughtful approach. Architects, urban planners and landscape architects can achieve this by:

Cultural Integration: Incorporate local traditions, crafts and art into modern designs, thereby celebrating the city’s unique identity.

Historical Context: Respect and integrate historical architecture and landmarks, fostering a connection to the city’s past.

Local Materials: Use locally-sourced materials and construction techniques to reflect regional aesthetics and support the local economy.

Human-Scale Design: Prioritize human-scale design, creating walkable areas, green spaces and inviting public places that align with the local way of life.

Community Engagement: Involve the local community in the design process to ensure new developments meet their needs and preferences.

Sustainability: Infuse modern designs with sustainable practices, addressing contemporary challenges while respecting the city’s ecological context.

Distinctive Identity: Foster a distinctive architectural identity that blends modernity with regional aesthetics, shaping a resilient and culturally rich urban environment.

Details of Construction System – II

Looking at the past in the current present, what are the futuristic architectural changes you would like to see in your home city / town? Elucidate the reasons for your vision.

Looking towards the future of Mitrovica, I envision:

Innovative Public Spaces: Introduce dynamic, temporary architecture for versatile public spaces, fostering community engagement and flexibility.

Smart Urban Planning: Implement digital design tools for efficient city layout, traffic management and resource allocation, promoting sustainability and modernity.

Green Infrastructure: Integrate eco-friendly designs like vertical gardens and green roofs for a sustainable and healthier urban environment.

Cultural Preservation: Preserve and showcase the city’s cultural heritage through adaptive reuse of historical buildings and the integration of traditional architectural elements into modern designs.

Community-Centric Design: Prioritize community involvement in planning to ensure new developments align with residents’ needs, fostering a sense of ownership.

Technological Integration: Embrace smart home technology and energy-efficient infrastructure for a seamless blend of technology into daily life.

The Moment of Pride

Resilient and Inclusive Spaces: Design spaces that are resilient to environmental changes and inclusive for all residents, ensuring a high quality of life.

The vision aims to create a future Mitrovica that seamlessly integrates its cultural history with innovative, sustainable and inclusive architectural practices.

Image Courtesy: Zanafille Ibrahimi

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