Modernist Heritage in Danger: Men’s High School of Burgas


related with planned reconstruction

of the building of the former Men High School of Burgas

The building of the School of Romance Languages ​​”G. S. Rakovski “and “Academician Nikola Obreshkov” School (former Men’s High School) is one of the most valuable examples of modernist architecture from the period between the two world wars in the city of Burgas. It is one of the biggest public buildings there in this style, presenting techniques specific for the period, making the edifice a valuable part of the architectural and construction history of the city.

During the years of its existence, the building designed by the famous architect Hrabar Popov and built in 1938-42 has undergone various changes (extension of a new volute, replacement of windows, etc.), but it still keeps the spirit of the interwar architecture and construction practice of the period. An important stylistic feature is the façade cladding – the ground floor is filled with dark rough stone, which contrasts with the white smooth cladding on the upper floors – a common practice in public (and in particular school) buildings from 1930s and 1940s. Specific for the representative appearance of the building is convex curve on the central entrance and the wide windows of the classrooms, ensuring profound of daylight. The treatment of the last attic floor creates a “frame” of the composition – a row of smaller windows. These techniques are material indicators of the historical value of the former Men High School building and make it an important part of the cultural memory of Burgas – a city that has every reason to be proud of its past. It is essential for every cultural heritage object to be preserved in its authenticity.

The common practice in reconstruction of school edifices in Bulgaria and the project to unifying the cladding of the school with the later nearest sports building are a worrying indication that this material cultural heritage is in danger. Putting any kind paneling on the original stone cladding will destroy the authenticity of the building and will harm its undeniable aesthetic qualities. Numerous researches and expertise in the field of energy efficiency over the past few years have rejected the need for covering such façades with insulation (that last no more than 10 years), especially in massive buildings before World War II. Modern technologies allow various energy-efficient actions without destroying the stylistic features of the façade – for example, through an high-performance plaster in the interor.

Bulgaria must protect its cultural heritage. Burgas has excellent examples of rescuing examples of modern architecture – such as the former Sea Sasino, successfully adapted recently in a cultural center.

We hope that the building of the “Academician Nikola Obreshkov” and the “G. S. Rakovski” School will be another of these good examples of rational care for the cultural heritage in the city of Burgas. Such an action would have an important educational effect for the next generations to which we are called upon to pass on the preserved cultural heritage of the country.


With respect,

  • Vassil Makarinov and Teodor Karakolev – Bulgarian Modernist Architecture group
  • Dr. Arch. Ljubinka Stoilova – member of DOCOMOMO International



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