Built in 1988 as a museum dedicated to the communist dictator Enver Hoxha, the Pyramid of Tirana has been converted by the Rotterdam firm MVRDV into a cultural center. Located in the heart of the Albanian capital, it has reopened with the original concrete structure opening out to a new park, with a colorful series of boxes scattered within and around the old building and containing cafés, studios, workshops, offices, and classrooms serving educational programs. Steps have been added to the sloping facades, leading to the top for view of the city.
The Pyramid of Tirana has before this been used as a nightclub, a broadcasting station, and during the 1999 Kosovo war as a NATO base. A study published in 2015 showed that most Albanians were not in favor of the building’s demolition. For many of them, this concrete monolith is a symbol of victory over the regime. The most expensive building that the communist state ever raised at a time when Albania’s population was oppressed and impoverished is now a monument to the nation. The Pyramid’s transformation shows how a building can be adapted to a new era while preserving a complex history.