Erëmirë Krasniqi: We were talking about those contributions that social organizations made to students. What kind of a system was it?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Okay. As far as I know, every organization could separate a fund for their own staff, for the education of future employees. In other words, it was a retirement fund, I mean scholarship fund. According to economic power, every organization had… For example, the textile factory or the municipal shoe processing factory, or filigree, or the construction organization, and so on, even the municipality.
Of course, people would apply for it. The way people applied for it was very legal, but then how they picked the people, only God knows if it was legal, like everywhere else. Actually even the municipality had a fund for a variety of profiles. In medicine, engineering, and so on. I applied to the municipality and they said, “You can’t get a scholarship, directly, you have big house doors.”
Erëmirë Krasniqi: What did this mean at the time?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: It meant that my late father had a house in Prizren and it meant we were rich. We were a family who loved education, and they saw that we all wanted to get educated, so in a way they would be an obstacle, and so on. My brother was a medicine student, but he did it himself, while I was a burden to my father. Then, after four years, I got the scholarship from Ramiz Sadiku and I continued.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: For how many years were you obliged to work for the association?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Well, apparently… I didn’t calculate it and I didn’t know, but apparently the debt was twice as much as the fund. If, for example, today, I would take 50, I would have to contribute 100 thousand to pay off the debt. But I didn’t leave, because with ten years of experience, I would have the right to get an apartment. And since I moved here and I was working here, my judgment was that I will get married soon and I will have children… I suffered in a way when I went to Skopje during my studies, I didn’t want my children to suffer, they would have the Faculty here and they should freely study here.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: What was Pristina like in the time you came here? Do you remember?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Yes, I remember Pristina when I came, when I got the first scholarship, I moved in with a friend of mine, who was my age, he was studying civil engineering here. Then I lived in the student dormitory. I got off the bus from Skopje, I went to his place, then I asked, “Where is the headquarters of Ramiz Sadiku?” He shows me from afar, he says, “There, you can see the building.” And from the student center, where the canteen is, it was a cornfield, cornfield. I walked in the fields up to the university library, there were the military barracks, and I walked through the city.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: The military barracks were still there at that time? Which year are you talking about?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: ‘68.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: So the university campus wasn’t there?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: No, no, no, no. Not yet.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Okay. What was it? What kind of grounds? What kind of fields?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Meadow, literally meadow, muddy.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Where was Ramiz Sadiku located at that time?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Ramiz Sadiku was in front of the Iliria Hotel, the headquarters was there.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: What kind of organization was it?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: It was an organization with eight thousand employees, eleven constructions units, reconstruction unit, with the low construction unit, and so on, with the transportation unit, and so on. There were eleven units.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: What did they build at the time?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Well, almost everything you see was built by Ramiz Sadiku back then. Other companies worked rarely. There were companies from Vushtrri, Gjakova, Gjilan, Binačka Morava, and so on. But it’s understood that it contributed to keeping the people calm. So, Ramiz Sadiku had an advantage in getting the jobs since it employed eight thousand people.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: It also was an economic calculation.
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Yes, economic.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: I wanted to ask you about… I want to go back to Pristina, everything you remember. Because you came here during a time when the city was changing its character, so it wasn’t an Ottoman kasaba, but it was experiencing urban development. You came right in the moment when that starts…
Shefqet Mullafazliu: It had already started.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Yes, in the ‘60s.
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Yes, it had already started.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: With Božur and with Ramiz Sadiku’s building starts the modern city and it separates from the Ottoman city. Can you visually…
Shefqet Mullafazliu: I will more concretely tell you about my experience, I only experienced it passing through, because I wasn’t interested in taking notes or remembering it, because my [maternal] uncle’s daughter was here, his daughters, and when I came over at their house… I was the same age as his children, as much as I can remember from staying for one or two days.
But, I will tell you now. When I started working at Ramiz Sadiku, when I came… of course, I was accepted immediately, by phone they announced that the new engineer came, and I settled down… the general director directed me to the design bureau where the Ramiz Sadiku colony is, “A new engineer is coming, find him a place.” And things like this. The reason behind this was because they were in a way obliged to do this, since I had a scholarship from them.
I settled, but I had to find a place to stay. There was also the employee’s standard, where there was the canteen and the employee’s housing barracks. They gave me a key to a barrack, where Hotel Prishtina is today, there…
Erëmirë Krasniqi: At the end, towards Rilindja.
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Towards Rilindja. There was a big hole there, a wooden bridge, I settled there, I went there. So naturally, what do I do now? Engineer, engineer, but I’m not the only one with blooming spring flowers. I got into a room, we were three people there. It was a nice room. I moved in there. But now as a young man, I wanted to meet a couple of friends that I had here and see the city, in front of Božur, in the korzo. But what would I get, the mud came up to our knees.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: It was muddy there?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: It was muddy, there was no asphalt. I went to buy some boots and I walked to the barracks. When I came back from the city, where the traffic lights are, at the Heroinat Memorial, I hid my boots there, I put on my shoes and went out on a walk with my friends. In other words, up to there Pristina was all muddy.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: When do these main roads by which Pristina is known today begin to be constructed?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Well, immediately, in the ‘70s, it started to be built at a faster pace. This part from Grand Hotel towards the flag, or the roundabout, it was all cobblestones up to the radio.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: You mean the roundabout…
Shefqet Mullafazliu: The roundabout at the hospital. So, from the center…
Erëmirë Krasniqi: It was all paved with cobblestones?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Yes, it was all paved with cobblestones. The late Nazmi Mustafa, he was the mayor back then, with the laws back then…of course, through the municipality, not through votes, he gave the order and the road was paved up to the roundabout, and trees was planted on both sides, so that was the first road that was paved completely. Now, I don’t know if I’m right, and I don’t want to be ironic, they used to walk, where the campus of the Faculty of Philosophy and the Deanery, the Agani Memorial are, cows used to graze.
He would order to confiscate, he would take the cows and would take them to the slaughterhouse, to educate people that that is not the place for cows to graze, but it is a place for the citizens. So I mean, in that was used the law at the time, and so on.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Were there many houses on that side that enabled livestock grazing, or where did they come from?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: No, no. The small roundabout was there. There was the Muhaxher’s neighborhood, neighborhood, what is the name of the neighborhood near the Cathedral? The houses of…
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Pejton.
Shefqet Mullafazliu: It was there.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Do you remember the gardens? Or the cornfields?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: No, not much. From there, yes. From the university, actually from the university campus and the dormitories. As I said, I walked in cornfields.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: What about the river, do you remember the rivers?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: I remember the river. In front of the theatre, there was a bridge and the river, it was open, but back then I was I kid, when I came to my [maternal] uncle’s house, and I remember where the Parliament is today, the bank and the old Post Office, there were some shops there, like in the Gjakova bazaar or the Prizren bazaar that is… I actually look at those pictures in the archive with nostalgia. I saved all the pictures of Prizren and Pristina on my computer. I also remember the road from the theatre towards the bank, where Soma coffee shop is today, in the direction towards…
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Towards the long road?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Yes, the long road is Divan Yoli street, that’s it was called. It was always called Divan Yoli. It was always Divan Yoli.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Yes, that road was tied to Divan Yoli.
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Yes. I remember Dragodan, and in front of the Youth and Sports Center, and where the Prosecutor is, there was the association of…
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Writers?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: No, no. I’m thinking of it in Serbian, and I want to translate in Albanian.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Say it in Serbian.
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Automobile association, the directorate was there. People were trained to drive there, and they got their driver’s licence… there, it was on the corner of the crossroad. And after that, it was still a field. Dragodan was the motorcycle racer’s stage.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Up until when was it like that? Everybody mentions these kinds of sports that happened there. When did the houses start to be built…
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Until ‘67, I think. Something like that.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Could you maybe tell us something about these houses which were built by architects, like a wave of projects that were executed in the new neighborhoods, like Talixhe and Dragodan. What was that? Also in Aktash, there are a lot of phenomena like that, here and there.
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Listen, back then, as far as I know… Because Pecić, Pecić, Dragomir Pecić had the monopoly, Dragomir, he was in charge. Then Dragan Radulović was in Ramiz Sadiku, Mirosllav Čučanović, Palve Pavlović. Palve Pavlović had worked in BVI for… BVI for, for, for…
Erëmirë Krasnqi: For residency?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: BVI for construction land, that’s how they called it. Where the prosecutor is today, that’s where their office was.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Pavle Palloviçi had a house I think…
Shefqet Mullafazliu: He built his house near the church.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Which church?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: The Catholic church in Ulpiana. Back then traveling to see construction and the development of architecture in Yugoslavia was very preferable. Of course, also in the world, but the opportunities were limited to travel the world. The architect’s association was still functioning, even though we had less funds, but we found ways to visit places and travel.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: What were these professional study trips like?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: The professional study trips were organized by the architect’s association and the organization. And the Entity of Urbanism could organize most of these trips, Pecić was a director there. Of course, I created the opportunity for myself and young architects to travel.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Can you tell me, in as much detail as you can, about your first job, Ramiz Sadiku, and the community that was built by Ramiz Sadiku as an organization. So, did you live together in a way, you were systemized, then the neighborhood had infrastructure, it had…
Shefqet Mullafazliu: That infrastructure was mentioned and it was awarded, that area there, that colony, because Miodrag Pecić worked in that colony… At some point he worked at Ramiz Sadiku. So that, that building was built under his supervision. Now I remember the Basara that you asked for the last time, exactly that… Basara… the Basara building where the LDK association and Tiffany are, Pecić designed them. I told you last time that it was Basara himself, but then I remember that Pecić built it.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Can we go back to the neighborhood, colony?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Yes, let’s go back to the neighborhood. The neighborhood was surrounded in a way… around it there were residence buildings for Ramiz Sadiku’s workers, of course, with their families. The design bureau and Ramiz Sadiku’s ambulance were in the same yard. At the time when I was hired, there were 44 people in the design bureau. There was a tracer, a furnisher and the guard who spoke Albanian, we were Albanian. The others were Montenegrin, Serbian, there were no Bosnians. Now I’m trying to… but I can’t be wrong. Čučanović, Dragan, the other Dragan, Jova. There were eleven graduated engineers, I was the only one who was Albanian. And then there were technicians of different profiles, construction, water supply and sewage, electricity and machinery. There were also economists who worked in…
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Finance, accounting…
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Yes, yes, accounting. The communication was normal, but it’s understood that they did not accept us with pleasure, because we discomforted them. In our presence, they couldn’t… they talked, but they couldn’t talk as freely as they did in the church (laughs). Then slowly employment developed, then in the meantime the late Esat Mekaj came, then Lulzim Nixha and Shqipe came, then Salihu came. But their work didn’t last much, of course, they found better jobs and different positions. While since I was obliged to stay at Ramiz Sadiku because of my scholarship, I endured it and I stayed. Then it started to grow [in me] even more, how do I say, the ability to resist surrounding pressure, so it doesn’t seem like I couldn’t take it and I had to leave.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: So the design office in a way was the center where you designed and then those designs were taken and executed by the organization…
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Yes, yes.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Ramiz Sadiku.
Shefqet Mullafazliu: The advantage was that… I’m talking in the sense of engineering, the advantage was there every person could design there, they could go and follow how their project is developing. That was considered normal, as a pleasure for the engineer to see how the building is getting built. Even though in the beginning, we didn’t want to since it was muddy, but later we experienced it differently.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Which building did you closely work on?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: The building in front of Maxi on the boulevard…
Erëmirë Krasniqi: The street above?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: In front of the ABC Cinema, the old Brotherhood, the cinema… then the Rectorate, behind the bank, so the bank is there and then behind, there’s the building over the Rectorate…
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Residential area?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Over the Rectorate. I couldn’t follow up on the building of the bank and some other building because I went into military service and so on. I took part in the construction of Kosovo’s B power plant, that building… It was a pleasure, not only as a young architect, but in experiencing a technology of a kind in Kosovo for the first time, which could build a building in 24 hours without a stop. That technology was such that the concrete had to be produced [and flow] like a river so we could build it, there couldn’t be interruptions.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Why, what would happen if you stopped?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: The concrete wouldn’t form. That building was like that, so all the time…
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Where did you get the technology from?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: I think we got the technology from France, but a machinery engineer from Serbia worked there. It was more expensive to get someone from France, and, of course, like everywhere else, technology is either copied or you make an agreement to take it, in other words, we were also capable of doing that.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: How long did it last?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: For a short period of time, a short period of time. 160 meters were done in 24 hours. It was built very fast, it was built in twelve days.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Extremely fast. Which year?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: ‘74, ‘75.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Can you talk about Bankkos in more detail, tell us about the design and how did you decide to design it like a butterfly, two buildings, as many details as you can share with us.
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Well it was, the inspiration came a little from being a student in Skopje… Skopje back then offered adventures and courage in architecture, and how do I say, patience, also criticism, positive and negative ones. So… in our world we think about criticism and understand it as insults, or negative criticism, while criticism can also be positive. So in cooperation with the head designer, who, I told you last time, was a student from Skopje, whose hobby was fishing. We would go fishing, and would leave me to do the work. And when he came back from fishing, sometimes, or during the whole time we were together, we had a very professional correspondence, we didn’t hold back. We could… I don’t think I could have had the same experience with him with anyone else there.
Maybe he wanted to reward himself since I was doing more work than I had to, or maybe he saw that I also had good ideas, even though he had five or six years’ worth of experience more than me, so we collaborated. I offered it to him, I proposed my idea to him and he said, “Where did this idea come from?” I said, “I got the idea because I finished University in Skopje, and Skopje is built. The whole world is talking about Skopje. That’s how I got my idea…” So he accepted it and so on. It was a small gesture for today’s…
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Tell us, what was it?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: At the intersection, you know, from Zahir Pajaziti Square and from this side of the Garibaldi Street… because in architecture, at the intersection, the corners always get blocked. The reason was not to block the view, and I came up with the idea to propose that solution, and he accepted it. Opposite of blocking the view, it attracted a lot of attention. I proposed a triangle, it does not have any function, but it’s like the makeup on women’s faces. He accepted it, and this is how the idea was born. The bank being a bank has its standards and one cannot step out of those standards: the counters, the administrative section, the treasury on the first and second, and so on.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Did the bank commission this?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: No, the bank has an advisor in the bank. We have submitted our proposal, the record exists, we have explained how the banks are being designed in the world. Though they were bankers, they have traveled, but to design did not know how and they could not.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: So the head of the bank…
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Well then the head, they had the committee, and the committee approves it, and that’s how it got approved. Even though, even then, the applications were internal. We applied, the Entity of Urbanism applied, even someone else applies, but our application was more attractive and we got accepted.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Did you apply as a Ramiz Sadiku architect or an independent architect?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: No, no, with the Ramiz Sadiku organization, as Ramiz Sadiku.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Okay, in general, it was done by Ramiz Sadiku.
Shefqet Mullafazliu: As Ramiz Sadiku. Then Ramiz Sadiku took over the construction of the building. Because the project was approved, the project was done, then it was announced for construction. Now even for construction there were different companies that applied, from Gjakova, Gjilan, Prizren, and so on. But Ramiz Sadiku took it.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Can you tell us about the materials that you used?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Well, the materials, the materials were very… of course, it was always… there was some sort of policy to not use materials from outside of Kosovo, the reason for that was so that the materials and the producers of materials would be from Kosovo.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: What kind of materials were produced in Kosovo?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: For example, concrete was produced here, cement was from Hani i Elezit, the sand was from here, and so on. We only took iron from Zajednica, Bosnia and so on. The doors…
Erëmirë Krasniqi: What about marble?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: The marble, I told you, the marble… after we had traveled, we had buildings all over Kosovo, we accidentally saw that beautiful marble in Deçan. And the head designer said… My nickname was Sheki back then, and he said, “Sheki, do you see what kind of marble this is, it is the same marble in the United States of America.” I said, “Don’t joke around…” The television was black and white back then, he said, “When there’s a session of the United States of America on the television, you will see the marble behind.” I was convinced, so we approved decorating that triangle at the bank with that marble.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: What was it? Because it isn’t there anymore.
Shefqet Mullafazliu: It was a dark green color with some, those, texture of white stripes. I don’t know how to explain it. It was hard marble, granite.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Was it easy to work on it?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Yes, they worked then. It stuck, the marble was thick, three centimeters or more, if you grabbed it… we had to put it there with anchors so it didn’t get deformed by the cold or the heat that comes through the marble, even though… there was the risk of it breaking off and falling over the pedestrians.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: No, I asked about the marble, because it was used a lot at that time, and all the facades and buildings…
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Even Grand Hotel…
Erëmirë Krasniqi: All of them, even Eximkos which was near there, I remember…
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Yes, yes. All of these were done with the help of the construction technology and supervision. To be honest, everything goes wrong if you are not cautious.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: What other projects did you work on?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Well, the schools.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Which?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: Schools all over Kosovo. We had won the project for 110 schools, for two to twelve classrooms.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Are they a variation of the same model, or are they different?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: They’re different, different according to the ground. Because the ground affected it. In the beginning, we were planning to design them almost the same, then there were supplements for each of them in every location… because classrooms are unique. You, the length of it, the width, the height, the direction, was always preferable to be southeast, laboratories and libraries were north, there were some standards like this.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Let’s go back to the Ramiz Sadiku colony. I’m interested to know for how long did you live there?
Shefqet Mullafazliu: No, I didn’t live there. I worked there.
 Turkish: kasaba, town.
 Main street, reserved for pedestrians.
 The Heroinat Memorial is a typographic sculpture in Pristina. It represents the number of survivors of sexual violence during the 1999 Kosovo War.
 Svetomir Arsić – Basara (1928) was born in the village of Sevce, the Sharr-Mountains. He is a Serbian sculptor and storyteller. In 1958, he graduated from the Academy of Applied Arts in Belgrade, under Rade Stanković. Arsić was a member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Kosovo, and was widely known in Yugoslavia for his war monuments.
 Lidhja Demokratike e Kosovës – Democratic League of Kosovo. First political party of Kosovo, founded in 1989, when the autonomy of Kosovo was revoked, by a group of journalists and intellectuals. The LDK quickly became a party-state, gathering all Albanians, and remained the only party until 1999.