Urban furniture for curious socialization on the campus in Prishtina

The University of Prishtina campus lies in the heart of Prishtina and is one of the most frequently visited areas in the city. The National Library has a dominant, central position on the campus. Even though the area is planned according to the city’s urban structure, this public space still is not utilized to its full potential. The goal of our workshop was to discover what issues everyday users experience in the area and how we can fix them.

The tripartite analysis consisted of familiarizing with the area through urban plans and maps of the area, field work and interviews with users of the space. During field work we tracked movement through the area, frequency of the people in different parts of the park, we paid attention to benches, lightning, trash bins or the lack thereof. According to the analysis we made, the problem was clear: the National Library divided the campus area in two parts. The southern part, which consists of the park and several resting areas, is used as a recreational area, respectively as a sociable environment. The northern part, however, is solely used for – mostly pedestrian – traffic from one part of campus and the city to the other. This created a “void” in the area without any designated space for recreation, socializing and fun.

However, three abandoned paved circles were discovered in the northern part, proving the initial effort from the municipality to transform the area was already made but never fully realized. We chose to finish the work that the municipality left unfinished. With a small spatial intervention we wanted to raise curiosity, break the everyday rhythm and invite the users / commuters to experience the place in a new, different and fun way.

We built small chairs, which resemble the typical Kosovan “shkam”. An important element was the “Woodstock Bench”, a hexagonal shaped bench, which has different levels and offers an intimate circle to socialize in an open public space. Moreover, smaller prototypes of urban furniture were built to evoke different reactions from the users. These elements were the swings, a rather fancy trash bin, a floating flower basket, and an “orange-holder” net. The majority of the work was done on site which raised curiosity from the by-passers. The spontaneous interactions resulted in unplanned working actions with the team. The feedback from the everyday users was highly positive even before our work was finished and several people adopted the structures already on the first day.

Our work proves that only little effort is needed to transform the ‘space’ of the campus area into a ‘place’. Simple, robust and eco-friendly urban furniture has the potential to improve Prishtina University campus, especially if its conceptualization and construction will continue to engage the people that use the area every day.

The University of Prishtina, Kosovo

Organiser: Ecoweek Prishtina 2014

Mentors: Ardita Byci-Jakupi, Maša Cvetko, Zala Velkavrh, Besnik Dervishi

Members: Art Zymberi, Bora Kelmendi, Denis Dalladaku, Mirjeta Morina, Mirjeta Simitciu, Nina van Geffen, Rina Merovci, Rina Rama, Tipp Bongers, Albesa Vrellaku, Arta Ibrahimi

12th – 19th of October 2014