Building Together: Learning from Stolipinovo


Building Together: Learning from Stolipinovo is a project-process for practical interventions in the urban environment of Plovdiv through architectural workshops. Its core is the teamwork with craftsmen from Stolipinovo – Berul the carpenter, Zdravko the ironworker, Carlo the builder, from the initial idea to its realization. Over 60 participants became involved in the process – pupils, students, young professionals, residents from the neighbourhood. They all expanded their knowledge and skills while building together and learning from one another.

What did we do? We challenged our imagination how to reuse old furniture and building elements in an innovative way and, in the frames of eight architectural workshops, we made four urban art installations.

The Door. The installation is inspired by an old wooden door. We cleaned it and created a new frame that we decorated with turned elements. We also added two mailboxes, which we made out from two old cabinets. Finally, we “dipped” half of the door in a bright colour. Thus, at first glance, an old and useless thing has turned into something new and beautiful. The Door provoked with its presence in a narrow lane in Kapana in the centre of Plovdiv in the summer and autumn of 2019. It was surreal and unusual, it challenged us to ask questions but also look for answers.

The Table with Benches. The installation is inspired by the habit of spontaneously meeting somewhere to exchange ideas. It all started with two old doors. One has been cleaned and restored to use as a large plate. The other was cut in two, reinforced and processed as benches for the table. We left the specific door elements visible to remind us of their previous use. In the end, we painted the installation in bright, attractive and unusual colours. The seating is visible from afar. It invites you to sit in the cool shade of the trees, pause for a while, look around and start a conversation with a stranger. To immerse yourself in the everyday life of the neighbourhood. We placed the installation in Izgrev and it was most interesting to us to look at its “movement” around the neighbourhood, to see how people use it and take care of it.

The Painting Boards. The installation was designed with the help of the Children`s City team and is inspired by an old double-glazed window. As we lifted the frame to move it, it almost fell apart and stood open like a book. We brought a couple of such windows in Stolipinovo, we carefully cleaned the frames, replaced the glazing with plexiglass panels, strengthened the structure and created a folding and opening mechanism. Of course, we painted the wooden elements in bright colours. On Children`s Day – the 1st of June – the painting boards popped on the lawn of the Children’s City. The children found uses that we had never suspected. The most fun was painting your friend’s face, who was on the other side of the transparent plexiglass panels.

The Long Bench with a Canopy. The installation is inspired by the people of Stolipinovo. While working there, people often told us they wanted more benches and more shadow. That’s why we decided to make a very long bench with a canopy in a lawn on Krayna Street. We made the 12-meter-long bench of bare concrete. We decorated it with the imprints of plastic bottles and their caps (found on-site and donated by a Plovdiv bar), and with parts of toys (also found on-site). For the canopy, we used thousands of recycled textile cut-offs (donated by a Plovdiv factory). We tied over 9000 knots to create a colourful faerie. We covered the ground around the bench with sand (donated by a local concrete plant). It was like a beach for the local kids, and it didn’t take long for them to find a playful use of the bench – to run and jump from it in the sand.

  • Authors:
    Atelier 3 (Donika Georgieva, Miroslav Velkov, Dessislava Kovacheva), Ivan Bonev
  • Collaborators:
    Lenko Mihov (ALHM Collective), Genika Baycheva (Discovered Spaces), Valentin Denkov, Karina Dikova
  • Year: 2019
  • Client: Goethe-Institut Bulgaria
  • Status: completed
  • More Info:
    Partners: European Capital of Culture Plovdiv 2019, Architectural Workshop for Children, Discovered Spaces
    Supported by Wilo Foundation
    Photo credits: Atelier 3, Néstor Boli, Ted Stanton Photography, Philip Mihaylov (Next Level Photography), Ivan Bonev
  • Website: