The proposal takes a look at an intersection between issues of urban identity (topography, materiality and nature in the city) and urban governing (construction waste management, maintenance of public spaces) as presented in the city of Sofia, Bulgaria. The design solution our team has arrived at would hope to transcend the problem-solving act and catalyze a long-term change in the relationship between Sofia’s inhabitants and its city streets and public spaces – both central (representative and institutionalized) and peripheral (liminal and informal). 


The cultural premise of the proposed tactical urban intervention lies with the defining presence of the Vitosha Mountain to the south of Sofia’s central areas – a dislocated semantic core, at the same time visually accessible from every point in the city, and universally recognized as a favourite sports and recreation destination by city dwellers, whose promise for a tactile and exciting topography, natural feel of the surrounding surfaces, and endemic mountainous vegetation, remains unfulfilled in the flatness and generic anonymity of the city streets as shaped by the last 60 to 80 years of development. 


The construction waste management aspect of the proposal is derived from the fact that the better part of Sofia’s building stock and public spaces are over 60 years old with little to no maintenance over time due to the political and economical transitions in the country. The current necessity to address this issue generates a considerable amount of construction waste material that we see as genetically connected to the character of the city with a potential to be reintroduced into a new cycle of life, and widely accessible to both citizens and institutions.


The proposed scalable set of boulder-like and hill-like srtuctures objects introduces new convivial every-day actions and interactions within the city spaces – climbing, lizarding, lingering, observing from a higher ground, reframing, all linking back to the physical and psychological well-being of mountaineering. Maintaining a respectful stance towards the actual natural mountains, the injected topography adopts the playful and honest stylistic language inherent to wall-climbing and bouldering facilities to create topographical city objects that reference mountain life but avoid direct morphological imitation.


While rooted in the materiality of the city and the symbolic presence of the mountains, the proposed boulder-like and hill-like structures, are a deliberate gentle disruption of city environments, their paradoxical appearance looking to provoke a Zen-koan like playful re-awakening to the quality of the urban tissue and its underlying charms that have been rendered mundane by everyday interaction.


Antonina Ilieva, Gergana Georgieva, Georgi Sharov


Sofia, Bulgaria