Sveta Nedelya Square

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.

The Historical Hill of Chiprovtsi

The Historical Hill of Chiprovtsi

This paper is developed following a commission by the Regional Urban Development Fund, the main partner in the Eco Municipality competition. In 2018, the Municipality of Chiprovtsi was a winner in the category “Sustainable Development of Public Spaces” for municipalities with a population under 40000.

The purpose of the present paper is to support the Municipality of Chiprovtsi in its efforts to develop the public spaces by proposing ideas for use and management of the Historical Hill of Chiprovtsi. The proposals are inspired by the specific potential of the place and take into account the contemporary trends in the development of similar spaces. Although the focus is on the Historical Hill, the proposed principles could be applied for other public spaces in the municipality.

New Urban Centre of Veliko Tarnovo

New Urban Centre of Veliko Tarnovo

The concept for the development of the territory of the new urban centre is aiming at creating a place with a spirit and a place that is socially and economically resilient. To achieve this, our global urban approach follows three leading guidelines: express identity, take advantage of the existing, allow flexibility.

The concept develops around six major interwoven strategies built upon the genetic code of the place: Volumes, Programme, Connectivity, Spaces, Phasing, and Sustainability. These strategies follow certain principles inspired by the Veliko Tarnovo urban morphology thus providing for the coherent connections of the territory with the city on different levels: spatial, visual, social, cultural, economic. The joint and wise implementation of the strategies would guarantee both a territory with a strong identity and a place that transforms and adapts to life.

New Urban Park in Haskovo

New Urban Park in Haskovo

The city of Haskovo faces the challenge of reusing a vast terrain of former military barracks. Abandoned for nearly a decade, the territory gradually loses many of its built structures and becomes unpleasant, dirty and avoided place. The city’s strategy is to transform the terrain into a new park.

The project is a competition entry designed in collaboration with place.make studio.

The project aims to reinvent the site’s potential as a connector between distinct city areas, diverse people and different times. The various proposed areas enhance the territory’s identity both as a former military unit and as a future city park. We took advantage of the existing. The individual functional areas are inspired precisely by the qualities of each particular place. The landscaping proposals integrate optimal reuse of natural resources – rainwater, timber, solar energy. The proposal preserves some of the anthropogenic assets – structures, building materials, peculiar elements. Thus, the new city park not only combines different places and activities but tells stories and engages the senses.

Central Square in Plovdiv

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.

Cultural tourist route ‘Road of Spirit’

Cultural tourist route ‘Road of Spirit’

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.