New life breathed into Tirana’s communist monument, the Pyramid



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Architectural photographer Danica O. Kus captures MVRDV’s recently inaugurated renovation project of the Pyramid of Tirana, a brutalist monument that was once a symbol of Communist rule under Enver Hoxha. Located in the heart of Albania’s capital city, the project repurposes the existing concrete structure, adding greenery to the atrium and its surroundings, thus transforming it into a vibrant community space. This revamped area houses cafes, studios, workshops, and classrooms, making the Pyramid a central hub for Tirana’s cultural life and a resource for the new generation.

To enhance visitor safety, concrete steps have been installed on the inclined concrete beams, allowing people to ascend to the Pyramid’s peak. Meanwhile, the team strategically added vibrant climate-controlled boxes throughout the area to house educational programs while offering students vantage points. Danica O. Kus’ photo series witnesses how concrete buildings can be repurposed for a new era while preserving their intricate history and highlighting the adaptability of historic brutalist structures.

View from the Pyramid of Tirana. Photo courtesy: Danica O. Kus

Transforming Albania’s concrete Pyramid

Over its history, the 11,835 sqm Pyramid has served various functions, from a museum dedicated to Hoxha to a NATO base during the Kosovo War, a nightclub, and an event venue. In recent years, efforts to renovate the building have been limited, resulting in a partially transformed structure that remained dimly lit and cluttered.

While the exterior is now accessible to the public, the interior remains a work in progress as part of MVRDV’s design to improve the building’s accessibility and openness. The removal of previous renovations has revealed a spacious interior enriched with greenery, fostering a welcoming ambiance. Upon completion, the Pyramid will primarily function as a center for the non-profit educational institution TUMO Tirana, providing free after-school education in disciplines such as software development, robotics, animation, music, and film for young individuals aged 12 to 18.

View from the Pyramid of Tirana. Photo courtesy: Danica O. Kus

The project aligns with several Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations. Instead of resorting to wasteful demolition, the building’s sturdy concrete structure is repurposed in line with circular economy principles. This approach is further evident in the design of the exterior steps, which incorporate the original stone tiles from the facade into the new concrete.

“Working on a brutalist monument like the Pyramid is a dream,” says founding partner of MVRDV Winy Maas. “It is striking and interesting to see how the country struggled with the future of the building, which on one hand is a controversial chapter in the country’s history, and on the other hand has already been partly reclaimed by the residents of Tirana. I immediately saw its potential, and that it should be possible to make it even more of a ‘people’s monument’ instead of demolishing it. The challenging part is to create a new relationship between the building and its surroundings. I am confident our design establishes this. I am looking forward to seeing young people and for the first-time older people climbing the steps to the rooftop!”


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