Ilir Gjinolli

Ilir Gjinolli (2016),  Public Space in Kosovo: Transformations Through History, Institute of Urbanism; 1st reviewer: Grigor Doytchinov, 2nd reviewer: Hasso Hohmann; 311 pages, German.

The main topic of this research is development of Public Space in Kosovo and transformations through history. The research takes into consideration the social and cultural context, which constituted the social and public life in the Western Balkan cities with a focus on Kosovo cities. Through the analyses of different cases in the cities, forms of public life were investigated and how they have been transformed. Some types of public space typology through the history were lost, but those survived proves that they still play a key role in the city’s public life. Little data on the development of public space in the pre-Ottoman period presented a problem. They are mainly taken by the authors who have addressed the development of cities in terms of geography, functional and morphological aspect, as well as materials and construction techniques. During the Ottoman Empire social and cultural settings were brought by the Ottoman culture based on Islam. As conquerors, ottomans immediately began Islamization. This process has been observed not only in the changes of the religion of local population but also influencing changes in other areas of the people lives. They were manifested in the public and social life including altering ways of gatherings, use of public space and gender division of users. As the Ottoman Empire transformed through the centuries, so did the public life and public space. Westernization of the Ottoman Empire brought the independence to Balkans in the 19th century culminating with Balkan Wars in 1912/13, followed by the World War I 1914 - 1918. After the World War II, transformation of Yugoslav Kingdom to a Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia initiated larger changes in the public life and public space including the architecture. The social differences were broken down and the public space became ideological space, where big speeches of the party leaders agitated for the new world order where people should be equal and share all the city amenities. The liberal period in the 90’s showed again different social settings in the former SFRY, which went through a terrible war and loss of many cultural varieties that characterized the country. In the beginning of 21th century, the democratic changes in all Balkan countries brought completely different social settings for use of public space. Public Spaces tend to become more attractive and active during the day and the night as well, sometime 24 hours active. The research combines interpretative historical strategy and the case study method with cases of similar context. Since the research is spread through a longer period, and different political, economic and social contexts, it was necessary to use the combined strategy at different levels. The case study was focused mainly in the cities of Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia. Direct observation is the primary tool of studying the public life studies. The users of public space were not directly involved in the survey, but their activity and behaviour were observed and mapped in order to understand how the space is used. It was necessary to consider the study context holistically, including physical, cultural and climate aspects. Choosing the proper time, day and weather was aligned with local conditions. Cases have been analysed and than through correlational method some conclusions were possible to acquire.