The deadline for starting the works occupies the concert hall without an approved plan


"We are vacating and cleaning all the space inside the former goods house 'Gërmia', to make it ready for the super-project, the creation of the museum and the concert hall", wrote on Tuesday the mayor of Pristina, Përparim Rama, who had announced the start of the works once in March of this year, then in April. But the conceptual plan has not even been approved yet, while the next step is the detailed plan

March of this year and then April were the deadlines mentioned by the mayor of Pristina, Pëparim Rama, for the start of the works for the concert hall of the capital. Precisely for the multicultural center "Gërmia". In March of this year, it will be 12 months since President Rama said that March 2024 is the time when the work was planned to start.

From that time until now, not even the first procedural step has been taken: the approval of the conceptual project by the Kosovo Institute for the Protection of Monuments. After that, the detailed project must be submitted for approval to the same institution. After the completion of this process, the call for construction companies should be opened.

In March of last year, during the meeting with the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and his partner from Kosovo, Bekim Ramku, the mayor Përparim Rama mentioned March of this year as the deadline for starting the works.

"We think we will tender the construction at the end of the year (2023) so that we can start the construction in March 2024", he said. Then in September last year, during the session of the Municipal Assembly, where the budget for this year was approved, he mentioned April.

"We are in successive discussions with the European community so that through the IPA funds this will be financed and we will start construction in April next year", said Rama. On Tuesday, Rama made a post on social networks.

"We are vacating and cleaning all the space inside the former goods house 'Gërmia', to make it ready for the super-project, the creation of the museum and the concert hall", he wrote next to the pictures published by the former goods house "The pit". KOHA has addressed questions to the mayor Rama regarding the start time of the works, but has not received an answer. But based on the mentioned deadlines, the plans are not going anywhere close to the expected time.

Image from the conceptual plan for a concert hall and gallery in the former "Gërmia" building

Reversal for monument encroachment

Currently, the Kosovo Institute for the Protection of Monuments has on the table the idea project of the multicultural center, where the current building of "Gërmia" turns into a gallery and the hall will be a new object behind it. Consortium "OUD - Architects Sh.PK; Kengo Kuma and Associates" had prepared the schematic project in the Municipality. Then the case was forwarded to the regional Center of Cultural Heritage and it was received in IKMM on October 13 of last year. The reason for requesting consent is because the "Germia" building is a monument.

The IKMM commission had come to the conclusion that the designers must also meet some conditions for their project to be approved.

"The conceptual project for the existing central building 'A' must adhere to the preliminary recommendations of the meeting on 24.5.2022, and especially point 3 of this recommendation: To preserve the constructive system, despite the re-designation of the building. The solution proposed even with the 2023 project contradicts this recommendation by violating the existing building 'A'", the recommendation reads.

According to the Commission, referring to the design task, the auditorium in the proposed layout with its volume and size interferes with the existing constructive system of the building. It is recommended to review the possibility of remodeling this part, while maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the existing building. It is requested that the designer, relying on documents, such as the design task and the criteria given by the Regional Center for Cultural Heritage of Pristina, justify and argue in writing the proposed solution. The file was also missing the copy of the plan and the certificate of ownership.

Architect Bekim Ramku has said that in the submitted project they have adhered to the received recommendations.

"We have addressed the remarks and then a couple of weeks ago we sent it to the Municipality and they sent it to QRTK and then to IKMM. Now we are waiting for the consent to be given," he said.

But KOHA has seen that the physical file of the project is still missing two required documents: the copy of the plan and the certificate of ownership. IKMM is expected to review the project this week. Ramku has shown that from the moment of approval of the schematic project according to the contract, they as designers have five months for the main project.

Image from the conceptual plan for a concert hall and gallery in the former "Gërmia" building

Hall with 1.200 seats, auditorium with 400

"At this pace we are working towards the middle of April or the end of April, we submit the detailed project", he said. The project submitted to IKMM shows that the entire complex will have 17 square meters. Next to the current building that will be converted into a gallery, behind it will be the new construction, a concert hall with a capacity of 226 seats. A smaller hall called the auditorium will have 1.200 seats. There will be at least three commercial premises, cafes and shops. There it is clarified that the basis for the conception of the intervention is the local architecture.

The contract between the Municipality of Pristina and the designers has a fixed weight of 1.6 million euros. Of them, half of the amount, 825 thousand euros, will be paid by the Municipality and half by the Ministry of Culture based on the Memorandum signed between the two institutions in April of last year. But that memorandum has already been dropped.

"The deadline for the realization of the goal of the Memorandum of Cooperation must be reached within the year 2023", it is written in this document. This year, the municipality has 2 million euros in its budget for this project.

Change of access with hall and gallery

As for the concert hall, the publication of the new project at the end of August, when the president Përparim Rama published images of the project during his visit to Japan to the architect Kengo Kuma, was quite echoed.

The municipality of Pristina has concretized the initiative for changing the access in relation to the building of the former goods house "Gërmia". The current management of the Municipality had given up on turning the monument into a concert hall. The duo's project for the transformation of the building located in the center of Pristina was declared the winner two years ago. But that ideological plan will now remain a part of history.

When the contract was signed in May of this year 2023, the architect Bekim Ramku explained that in the first phase they will evaluate the statics of the building, as well as the values ​​of the object.

That the Municipality will have a new approach, this was announced as early as March 2023 when the mayor of Prishtina, Përparim Rama, had a meeting with the Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma. On the 12th of March, Rama informed Kumas that the current building would not be used for a concert hall.

"The idea is to change the approach. "Instead of using the existing building as a concert hall, let's see if we can add a concert hall to it, so that we can use it as a city gallery and a multi-functional hall," said Rama. E Kuma had calmly confirmed that this can only be done with a "yes". Rama had several reasons for his initiative. He said that with this they will not need to demolish the current building.

The history of this 70s building is old. The transformation into a museum of contemporary art or a concert hall has entered its second decade.

The jury composed of Mohsen Mostafavi, Andrija Rusan and Han Tümertekin, distinguished professors of architecture from Harvard, Zagreb and Istanbul together with two representatives of the Association of Architects of Kosovo, one from the Kosovo Institute for the Protection of Monuments, as well as another from the Municipality of Pristina, had decided that the project of the Kumas studio in partnership with the Kosovar architect, Bekim Ramku, and the team of engineers from Istanbul and New York, Ahmed Topbas and Akım Mühendislik, would be ranked first. This project in April 2021 had received 82.42 points, making it rewarded with 50 thousand euros. "One Roof - Germia for Concert Hall" creates two concert halls inside the building, while the external facade of the monument is preserved.

The jury decided that in second place with 74.84 points is the project of the operators "Shkelqim Osmani BI - Vizion project, MA Studio & Partners", which had the number 1897. The financial reward was 30 thousand euros. The third is the project with the operators "Arbër Sadiki BI, G+A Architects" with the number 6.969. He had received 70.12 points and the financial reward – 20 thousand euros. Apart from Sadiki, co-author is also Gëzim Paçarizi.

The project of the duo Sadiki and Paçarizi envisages what the mayor Përparim Rama had requested: the current building will be a gallery and a concert hall will be added.

The selected project was estimated to cost around 10.6 million euros to implement. With the requested changes, there is still no preliminary calculation.

Since September 2018, the Municipality of Pristina had mentioned the former building of "Gërmia" as a place where the concert hall could be built. In October of that year, after a great debate between the architectural and music communities, the Ministry of Culture had included the building in the List of cultural heritage under temporary protection. In that case, the situation had changed.

Then, through the decision to expropriate the former "Gërmia" facility, the Government decided to preserve the external appearance of the monument and turn it into a concert hall.