Central Square in Plovdiv

What we just felt right was to respect the human perceptions (not the birds’ ones), to prioritise the needs of the citizens of Plovdiv (not only of the tourists), to consider the weekdays (not only the holidays).

How did we approach the challenges of the Central Square in Plovdiv?

We looked back in time to find the most resistant features of the site. We talked a lot about the meaning of a square and what determines it as such. We discussed what archaeological sites really are – pieces of old structures within the terrain waiting to be discovered (or not). We followed all the visible traces of human actions. We observed the people of Plovdiv and the life in the square. We faced the current issues and drew out a possible scenario following the stereotype.

And we asked ourselves: Should archaeological remains determine the contemporary way of life? Could we turn back time? Does the city really need it? How can we make the site more a[ttra]ctive?

The project’s core concept is to interpret the continuous process of evolution and to stimulate personal experience. We propose a strategy based on clear visibility of all superimposed features of the site in their true nature giving the people a genuine sense of square, of archaeology, of layers, of life.

To get a sense of square one needs to feel its confines. Hence the project proposes to redefine the active periphery.

To reveal a true sense of archaeological remains would mean to respect their ruined state (destruction is also part of history), the way we discover them today, the ambivalent stories they hide. Therefore, the project aims to provoke constant curiosity enhancing their most explicit feature – mystery – while preserving the authenticity.

To awake a sense of accumulation, no historical layers should be sacrificed or condemned. The message of constant changes, resulting from the thought of many generations, is transmitted by the enhancement of the overlay of various (often not related to each other) urban systems at one place, and of the large scale interventions that have torn the urban fabric.

To induce a sense of life we propose surprising and living human-scale spaces. And the new gardens symbolise growth and constant rebirth.

The project interweaves these four leading ideas and translates them into a context dependent architecture. The general expected urban impacts would be: strong multifunctional, flexible and interactive character enabling the site to effectively meet the needs of the different people and to ensure wide range of social and economic benefits; diverse possibilities for use, interpretation and close understanding of heritage; facilitated maintenance of the archaeological remains; comfortable microclimate; raise of permanent interest and awareness of people.

  • Authors:
    Atelier 3: Miroslav Velkov, Donika Georgieva, Georgi Kunchev, Dessislava Kovacheva
  • Collaborators:
    Svetlana Anisimova (landscape architect), Konstantin Velinov, Nikola Angelov (structural engineers), Krasimira Frangova (conservation)
  • Year: 2014
  • Client: Plovdiv Municipality
  • Status: international competition
  • Website: http://plovdivsquare.com/