Sveta Nedelya Square

Arriving from the station we see the distant profile of the mountains to the south: the space of the square finds its logical conclusion in the geography of Sofia.

We walk in the large space of Sveta Nedelya Square and we look for signs: what is this space? Is it a square, or a roundabout? Is it a square or a linear crossing? We see some ruins and speak to the archaeologists leading the works: is it this what is underground? No, “this is only a minor part of the Roman and Ottoman cities”, they say… Monumental rests are calmly waiting under the tramway rails. We discover the different characters of the four quadrants around the square, their spaces, variety and richness, ruins surfacing here and there… Pure times we live by.

Sveta Nedelya Square is, in the project we propose, not only a square but a collective and broad experience in time and space. A place, as all the centre of Sofia, where we can feel time, “pure time” as anthropologist Marc Augé describes it, without resuming history or completing it, but assuming it as a deep cultural and intimate experience.

Our proposal is to work on the paradox of the coexistence of different times in the same space. The different cities laying one on each other in the space of the square become, in the project, part of the everyday life of the people walking by, meeting there, strolling and chatting.

The project introduces a broader concept of heritage in a living city. A concept that goes beyond the listed buildings, spaces, and archaeological structures but includes senses, memories, habits, liveability. An approach that is aiming at changing the perceptions of the people towards a multifaceted heritage and bring it closer to their everyday life.

What is impressive in Sveta Nedelya Square is the continuity in time. The project makes this perceptible also in space by introducing a continuous surface that inserts a third dimension, lowering and lifting up, in and out. The surface is a way to highlight the complex and continuous coexistence of different aspects of our life: archaeology, urban fabric, green areas, public spaces, transportation. We propose to create a seamless transition between epochs, not two separate levels in the space-time, but one surface that integrates the various layers into a single entity.

Sveta Nedelya Square will always be a square and part of the central pedestrian promenade crossing North-South the centre of Sofia, but it will also represent a planetary metaphor of memory and vision of the future. A unique place to live by.

By revealing and getting closer to the extraordinary heritage, the new Sveta Nedelya Square finds a new role in the city of Sofia. It becomes a hinge in a system of archaeological sites today fragmented, not always visible or accessible, not part of the city space. The continuous surface valorises all the square.

  • Authors:
    Studio019PaolaVigano – project leader (Italy)
    in collaboration with Atelier Ruimtelijk Advies (Belgium), Pavel Yanchev (Bulgaria/Belgium), and Atelier 3 (Bulgaria)
  • Year: 2019
  • Client: Sofia Municipality
  • Status: competition, 4th place
  • Website: