Ada Tepe is the mountain peak where the oldest known gold mine in Europe has been found and studied. Now gold is being mined again and all traces from the Bronze-Age mining technology will disappear. The main challenge of the project is to reveal the “absent” heritage of ancient gold mining.
Ada Tepe Exhibition is located in a disused room of a local community centre. The exhibition covers several topics: gold mining in the Bronze Age and now, the life at the mine, the peak, the excavations, the gold, the nature, and the future of the mine. Their manifestations in terms of spatial and architectural appearance interweave to stimulate all senses.
The main featuring element is the inclined plane of the “mountain slope”. It divides the exhibition room in two but simultaneously connects the topics – physically and meaningfully. The aboveground space is dark, mysterious and unknown. Here are the stories and facts from the past (mining, life, topography) compared to similar contemporary activities. A massive trench leads to the underground space – just like the way ancient miners and today’s archaeologists “entered” the mountainside. All is bright and golden here as a reference to the underground treasures but also to the enlightening role of science for unveiling the distant past.
The exhibition encourages people to roam around the space, to climb the “mountain slope”, to venture underground, to touch, hear, feel, and experience this important yet unconventional heritage of the region.
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.
The task of this project was to transform an open-office space in an office tower into a shared office of a union of companies working with African partners. The client required divided spaces for the different teams but also common spaces for gathering and communication. As a result of our work, though, these spaces became comfortable places for work but also for informal meetings and rest. The yellow and ochre colours, which we added, brought cosiness but also made the space more vivid. The design of the foil on the interior glazing is inspired by the patterns of the art of Sub-Saharan Africa, as a reference to our client’s business.
Local people have worshipped the site of the Sanctuary of the Nymphs and Aphrodite for centuries. Only in recent years, the archaeological research reveals that the site is actually a large and wealthy Roman villa rustica.
How to make this compound archaeological site more communicative, comprehensible and recognisable without being intrusive? How to express the strong connections with the nature? How to interpret the various spatial and functional relations within the complex? How to keep the living traditions? How to intervene in order to protect the ruins and at the same time facilitate the still ongoing archaeological researches?
We developed a strategic project based on the principles of integrity, flexibility, reversibility, accessibility and continuity. Our approach gives priority to the intuitive perceptions of the archaeological complex as a place that one gradually discovers for themselves. We rely on the inborn curiosity of people. All the conservation interventions are limited to the necessary minimum to protect the original structures. A new mirror-clad platform gives a stunning vista to the site and the landscape but also recreates the landmark of the ancient mausoleum nearby. Concrete information elements interpreting stone blocks scattered around the site provide unobtrusive and coherent guidance through the complex. A specially designed movable archaeological station facilitates the work of the archaeologists and acts as a ‘pop-up museum’ that changes its place and content following the archaeological research.
How could one Karlovo living room become a bedroom with a bathroom? What about if it is in a listed building? And if it has windows and a seating platform (or minder) along three of its walls? And murals on all the walls and on the ceiling? And What if all the colours are already there? Where should we put the bathroom?
The House of Hajji Valko is a typical symmetrical Karlovo mid-19th century house with three bedrooms, divana (the large vestibule) and a large representative living room on the upper floor. The aim of the study was to prove the possibility to turn the living room into a guest bedroom without putting at risk the values of the room.
We decided to just add: keeping literally all existing structures and features, preserving the sense of a single space of the large room, providing full reversibility of the intervention. We thought of the bathroom as a piece of furniture, together with a wardrobe and a niche for books. We placed it in the middle of the room. The new structure completely contrasts with the authentic interior but together with that it makes a link with its time – the copper cladding corresponds to the colour scheme of the house, softly reflects all the colours of the room, and makes a reference to the tradition of the National Revival and the oriental wrought copper items.
The Universe is born from energy. The energy is destined to continuously degrade and fall apart, to move from order to disorder. Thus the mysterious concept of entropy or the measure of disorder appeared.
The architecture of the pavilion visualises a snapshot of the process of how energy spreads out and disperses.
The Energy Pavilion
The Energy Pavilion invites the people to zoom in and experience this universal flow of energy. The spaces created within the structure challenge people to explore different types of interaction. Like the energy changes permanently, our perception of the pavilion also changes as we move towards it.
The Energy Pavilion shall be fabricated out of bamboo poles anchored to an impregnated plywood platform and tied together by steel cables and spacers.
How did we see the place? As a border space – between the mundane and the festive, the tranquil and the intense, the private and the public, the small houses and large public building. As a surreal space – in which coexist seemingly incompatible things. As a pulsing space – in which everyday activities are followed by cultural events.
That’s why we asked the people with what they associate attending such events. And the answers were: breaking away from reality; going in another space; feast; distant world; strong but short sensations.
The project emphasises the identity of the place at the Palace of Culture by materialising its surreal nature. The place is transformed into a recognisable urban space on the verge of illusion and reality. Here the usual becomes unusual, the domestic becomes public, the mundane becomes festive, and vice versa.
And so in the public space along with the typically urban elements (bus stop, retail pavilion, and advertising column) emerge home furniture and theatre chandeliers. The square is traversed by a street, and cars pass by the table and under the chandelier. In daytime, in the triangular island one could have a bite on the sofa in the lunch break, or take their laptop and work in open air. At night, under a canopy of light, one could meet friends, have a drink, or attend a cultural event.
Every single proposed element is subordinate to the idea of finding yourself in an absurd situation of another reality. The square is covered with asphalt, and the street is sett paved. Surprisingly, the soft furniture is hard, and all elements seem cast from the same material in an unusual and illusive colour.
The proposed approach fosters the community engagement with the development and flexible use of urban environment. For example, the space could be personalised with personal furniture literally taken from someone’s attic, weather-proofed, and let out for public use.
The main objective of the project is contemporary and integral expression of the unique characteristics of Nessebar as a system through the development of a specialised scheme for development of cultural tourist routes in relation to the sustainable development of the cultural tourism. Three levels of project development are covered: (1) a system of cultural tourist routes in ‘Ancient City of Nessebar’, which fully express the diversity of values and the unique stratification of the city –result of centuries of historical evolution; (2) cultural tourist route ‘Road of Spirit’ (an integral part of the routes system), which reintegrates the emblematic churches of Nessebar in contemporary urban life; (3) a pilot implementation of a fragment of the ‘Road of Spirit’ – from the St. John the Baptist church to the churches of St. Paraskeva and St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel.
The development of the cultural tourist route ‘Road of Spirit’ seeks reconsideration of the cultural significance of the Christian churches on the peninsula in the contemporary life and their manifestation as a system. It proposes an adequate modern function that reveals the unique characteristics of each church together with its adjacent environment and that takes into account the abilities of the place for engagement in the cultural life. An integral signage system of the key sites along the cultural tourist route provides methods and elements applicable to the specific site depending on its values.
Within the fragment, designed as the first stage, numerous specific proposals are implemented. The existing asphalt, extrinsic to the historic city, is replaced with new pavement of granite slabs – interpretation of the cobbles from the National Renaissance period. The path of the route is marked in the pavement with specially made signs of red stone. Signing elements are also integrated – white limestone signs, highlighting locations for specific cultural activities. The liturgical space of St. Spas (Saviour) is enhanced. To the South of the church the revealed during the archaeological excavations Hellenistic building is marked – a ladder with two arms, according to the hypotheses leading from the courtyard of the ancient building to the basement.
The architectural concept for the memorial aims to create a communicative space, which honours the perished goryani and bring the following generations closer to their unbreakable spirit. The concept is developed based on the historical events related to the Goryani Movement in Kresna in 1947-1948.
The squad of Gerasim Todorov was one of the many in the armed resistance against the Communist government in mid-20th century. The squad was formed in the spring of 1947 mainly aiming “to work among the people and protect the Bulgarian spirit” in Pirin Macedonia. In the beginning of 1948 the squad consisted of 42 men. In a protest letter Gerasim Todorov openly stated: ‘Better glorious death than life in disgrace’. The men left their homes and started an illegal life in the woods. They were called goryani (lit. ‘men from the forest’). They swore ‘…to the Bulgarian people to struggle for its liberation so that liberty and democracy in the motherland should triumph…’. In March 1948 the Blagoevgrad militia started a mass armed action. According to the official archives, during the action were killed seven men, 31 were arrested, and only four escaped the blockade. But the goryani were not forgotten.
The memorial is formed by stone pillars – interpretation of tree trunks in the forest. The life of the goryani was taken but their faith in liberty and democracy still lives. The stone forest keeps the memory of the people – of each father, brother, husband, relative – their names are cut into the stone elements. The memorial is situated as an integral part of the green areas, among the trees at the town square in Kresna.
The five square panels graphically represent the five faculties of the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy (UACEG) in Sofia: Architecture, Structural Engineering, Hydraulic Engineering, Transportation Engineering, and Geodesy but from a different point of view. Each faculty’s activity is represented through popular and easily recognisable foods (and beverages). Professors and students are challenged to identify by themselves their faculties.
Atelier 3 – the architects Donika Georgieva and Miroslav Velkov – would like to thank the university administration and everybody who helped to realise the idea.