Opinion About a Project for Reconstruction of the Former German School in Burgas

TO DIMITAR NIKOLOV, MAYOR OF BURGAS MUNICIPALITY;
Ms YORDANKA ANANIEVA, DEPUTY MAYOR “EDUCATION AND CULTURE”
BURGAS PUBLIC MEDIA AND COMMUNITY

OPINION

ABOUT THE PROJECT FOR RECONSTRUCTION OF THE BUILDING OF THE FORMER GERMAN SCHOOL IN BURGAS

The idea of creating a modern art complex and a modern library for the 21st century in the former German School in Burgas is commendable. Along with the development of other objects, such as the Sea Casino Cultural Centre, the city undoubtedly ranks among the cultural leaders in Bulgaria. The attitude to the cultural heritage and the history of the city is an integral part of this development.

Concerning Sea Casino Cultural Centre – it is a demonstration of a European attitude towards this cultural heritage. The building was well reconstructed and took its new functions very well, without compromising the aesthetics of the magnificent object of the modern architecture designed by the architects Victoria Angelova–Vinarova and Boris Vinarov in 1936-1938.

We hope that Bourgas Municipality, as an investor and main supervisor of the project of the complex of contemporary art, will appreciate the high aesthetic values of the building of the former German school. The building erected in 1936 after a project of two of the most prominent Bulgarian architects Stancho Belkovski and Ivan Danchov is an edifice of European scale that can be placed in the forefront of the architectural trends of the period.

Fortunately the authenticity of the building is well preserved and a significant part of its elements – the specific for the modern architecture in Bulgaria plaster, stone covering, wooden windows, as well as its composition of volumes and the yard space. A characteristic element of very great significance is the specific design of the corner. It is the seemingly unpalatable appearance is that thing that gives today’s generation the chance to preserve the wonderful design and original architectural idea of the Brkovski-Danchov Architectural Bureau, so investors, architects and builders could be minimally involved in the new design of the former German School. Only this attitude will show true respect for today’s citizens of Burgas and Bulgarians to those who have made Burgas a real European city a century ago.

The project shown in the public media shows an idea to add a number of foreign to the aesthetics, the style and the time of building elements – a complete change of the façade giving a new character, without preserving the authentic plaster and stone lining; changes in the harmonious design of the window openings and their articulation, etc., which will undoubtedly erase the original design of the project by architects Stancho Belkovski and Ivan Danchov.

We hope that the published visualizations are a preliminary projects which has not been discussed with the Burgas community, architects and specialists at local and national level. We invoke the architects and the investor – Municipality of Bourgas – to show again the good practice applied in the project for reconstruction of the Sea Casino. We appeal to the preservation of the authenticity of the building: its volumes, materials and details as close as possible to the original ones. This is the only way the investment idea really to be a project that is really connected with the culture of Burgas.

With respect,
Teodor Karakolev
Vassil Makarinov
Bulgarian Modernist Architecture Foundation

Opinion

in support of the proposal for the declaration of the house of Dr. Dobri Stefanov at 25 Yordan Yovkov Street in the town of Yambol (known as The Steamliner) – as a cultural heritage

Yambol is one of the cities with interesting cultural heritage from different historical periods. The architectural objects in the city between the two World Wars are extremely interesting with their uniqueness. Among the undisputed examples of the highest class are the building of the Court of Justice, the Mineral Bath and the Red House. One of the most striking examples is the well-known house at 25 Yordan Yovkov Street (known as The Steamliner). All Those buildings put Yambol on the map of Bulgaria as cities with invaluable cultural heritage, for which we – as a generation and society – have a responsibility to protect and to betray to our heirs.

The house of Dr. Dobri Stefanov (architect Alexander Kurtev, 1930s) in Yambol, can undoubtedly be considered one of the bright manifestations of the architecture of Modern Movement in the town. It was designed by one the great names in Yambol’s architectural history, who at the end of the 1920s graduated as architect in Dresden – Alexander Kurtev – whose projects such as the Red House (1930-31) and the building of the mineral bath (1938) demonstrate his very clear understanding of the aesthetics of the modern architecture from the interwar period.

In the context of Modern Movement between the two World Wars, we must appreciate the merits of the house of Dr. Dobri Stefanov. The lack of any façade decoration, smooth plaster and flat roof emphasize the expressive and elegant curved southwest corner. This is the most characteristic part of the building, which in combination with the terrace on the top floor, the rounded columns and the tubular railings direct to so-called ship style – something very typical for the architects of 1930’s. This has gave the name of the building – The Steamliner.

Other important elements should also be noted as valuable in terms of the aesthetics of modernism. The flat roof (though partially) that in this time was still not very common in Bulgaria, the horizontal profile plaster on the windows through the eastern corner, the tubular railing on the balcony above the door, the metal profiles of the glazing of the staircase, the elongated 4-winged windows (still preserved in authenticity), etc.

These stylistic features demonstrate that this building belongs to the European trends of the 1930s – a period for which Yambol can be proud to be a part of alongside the avant-garde in Europe. The destruction of this building will wipe out one of the material traits of this unique moment in urban history of Yambol.

Our foundaton team considers that this building has all the qualities and deserves to acquire a status of cultural heritage in order to be preserved for future generations as one of the undisputed examples of the architecture of the Modern Movement in Yambol.

 

02.07.2018

Foundation “Bulgarian Modernist Architecture”

Vassil Makarinov and Teodor Karakolev

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

Appeal

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

 

23.10.2017

Modernist Heritage in Danger: Complex “Bulgaria” in Sofia

The building of “Bulgaria” complex is one of the most valuable objects in the Bulgarian architectural history. The project of the architects Ivan Danchov and Stancho Belkovski dates back from 1934 – the time between the First and Second World Wars – and is indicative for the peculiar peak in the cultural development that the Bulgarian society reached in the 1930s. The private “Civic Cooperative Insurance Company”, that funded the building, created an unique edifice, which has its unprecedented value for the society with its hall – even today it is the concert hall with probably the best acoustics in Bulgaria. This is an object, created by educated private owners, aware of the balance between pursuing the economic benefit and voluntary support of social and cultural causes and activities that would not serve on a market principle.

The building is valuable for a number of reasons. Al the interiors delicately designed – the staircase in the winter garden is a perfect sculptural composition of convex and concave curves leading to the gallery under the openable skylight. All the used cladding materials in the halls of the hotel and the concert part are described in the project by the architects themselves. In the equipment       of the building are used some new and rare technologies such as the descending into the underground windows of the restaurant and the openable skylight at the winter garden which are well preserved artifacts testifying the high technical developments of Bulgaria between the two world wars.

The main facade of Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd. (behind which the hotel part is housed) is laconic but perfectly proportioned and meant to be in harmony with the earlier building of the Civic Ompany at the corner with “Georgi Benkovski” str. The last two authentic floors of the hotel step back from the plane of the main façade. The volume over the entrance is discreetly revealed – a delicate accent that can be clearly seen today by observing the building from north sidewalk on the boulevard as well as from the garden of the Royal Palace. Any upgrading of these two last floors would compromise the proportions and destroy the delicate design of the architects.

In the years after 1944 the complex was divided into separate parts (the hotel part was separated from the concert hall), and the authenticity of some of the interior spaces (the lobby) was violated. The inner connections has been lost. Luckily, with few changes, the facade of the building is preserved and is a proud witness of Bulgaria’s 1930s cultural upsurge. It is our responsibility to preserve the inherited value and not to repeat the mistakes of the totalitarian period that has left its mark on our valuable architectural objects.

Having all that in mind, the members of the Bulgarian Modernist Architecture team believe that knowing the history in its most authentic form is extremely important for the development of Bulgarian culture. The cultural and historical heritage carries its material and non-material memory and the Modern Movement heritage – the memory for the years of unprecedented donations in Bulgaria, both for social and cultural causes.

At the same time, architecture – especially the objects of the modernism – is an art that works in absolute terms – from the entire volume of the building to its smallest detail. In other words, buildings are valuable both in their volumes and in the design of floor mosaics or door handles. Architects designed them with the clear awareness that each element of the building is important and it is not accidentally on its place.

We are convinced that any changes in the exterior (and interior) of the building – and in particular on the main façade from Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd – are that are not set in the original architectural blueprints are inappropriate. Preserving the original look of the building is the way we can show respect for our past, the uniqueness and specificity of Bulgarian culture, our ancestors, to whom we owe the opportunity today to have what we have.

Preserving cultural heritage today is a moral duty of every owner of a valuable architectural object. Any upgrading, alteration or destruction of the precious samples of our past, which undoubtedly is the “Bulgaria” complex, is a manifestation of disrespect for our past, Bulgarian culture and, in general, the world human legacy.

Our opinion is that the project for upgrading the hotel part (transformation of the last two floors in mansard) of Bulgaria complex is an inappropriate attack on the Bulgarian culture. The project have to be redesigned in order to preserve the authentic design, proportions and layout of the exterior and interior of the building as provided by the original blueprints of arch. Ivan Danchov and arch. Stancho Belkovski.

We appeal the owners of the building to reconsider their ideas and to adapt their project to preserve the authenticity of the building as a valuable object of cultural heritage. This would be a worthy act, showing respect for Bulgarian history.

As experts in the field, we tend to provide expert judgment and opinion on concrete ideas completely free of charge.

In the design and in the control of the project have to be included architects – experts in the protection of the cultural heritage, with research and practical experience in the sphere of the specific architectural style – modernism.

 

Vassil Makarinov – art historian, creator of the Bulgarian Modernist Architecture Group and author of the exhibition of the same name

Theodor Karakolev – journalist, co-author of the Bulgarian Architectural Modernism Group and author of the exhibition of the same name

Project Traveling Exhibition “Bulgarian Modernist architecture. Examples from 1920s, 1930s, 1940s”

The traveling exhibition “Bulgarian Modernist architecture. Examples from 1920s, 1930s, 1940s” is the first serious action of our group in the public space. The exhibition presents more than 30 representative buildings from a variety of locations and different types – public buildings, private residential edifices, industrial architecture and examples of religious architecture. Objects are from Sofia, Pazardjik, Plovdiv, Banya (near Karlovo), Sliven, Yambol, Haskovo, Kazanlak, Burgas, Varna, Balchik, Rousse and Gabrovo. The texts are both in Bulgarian and English language.

 

The exhibition has started in the end of April 2017 from Varna, after which it was presented in Burgas, Kazalak and Sofia. Everywhere the exhibition is accompanied by lectures by led by the authors and discussions with the local people, as well as a tour of the notable examples of Modern Movement architecture in the respective city. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue that can be found in the bookstores in the country.

 

The exhibition is funded by the Central Fund for Strategic Development at the New Bulgarian University, the Bulgarian-European Cultural Dialogue Centre. Our partners are many local organizations, volunteers and numerous architects, designers, historian, etc.

 

Preparation

In the first 3 years of its existence, the Bulgarian Modernist Architecture group was active mainly online – through its facebook page (facebook.com/BGarch203040) and through several media appearances. At the same time, however, the team was done research and documented hundreds of valuable buildings – an important cultural heritage of Bulgaria from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. The materials collected during this period was used to select circa 30 buildings from different styles and places from all over the country – all of the visited and studied by our team.

 

After applying for a Central Strategic Development Fund at New Bulgarian University in the beginning of 2017, the group managed to receive funding for the project of the exhibition and its presentation at various locations in the country. The idea of ​​the exhibition is to travel and to visit as many places as possible – it has no deadline and can always be presented in a new place.

 

The team of the exhibition

 

In addition to the permanent members of the Bulgarian Modernist Architecture Group – Vassil Makarinov and Teodor Karakolev – the exhibition is supported by many other experts from different fields who helped us. These are some of them:

 

Deya Valcheva – Designer

Arch. Lyubomir Peychev – author of axonometric drawings

Mariana Melnishka – translation into English

Arch. Georgi Sabev – author of a model of the Sea Casino in Burgas

Arch. Tsvetomir Tsenkov – author of the exhibition logo

  1. Dr. Arch. Ljubinka Stoilova – consultant

Assoc. Prof. Ruzha Marinska – consultant

Dr. Angela Daneva

Arch. Velin Neychev

Eng. Ljuba Dashovska

Vlad Nanca

Yana Uzunova

as well as many heirs and current inhabitants of buildings that helped us during the research.

 

These are our institutional partners:

 

New Bulgarian University

National Polytechnic Museum

Archives “Old Sofia” at the Regional Museum of History – Sofia

Cultural Center “Sea Casino” – Burgas

Regional History Museum – Kardzhali

Regional History Museum – Yambol

Art Gallery “Dimitar Dobrovich” – Sliven

State Archives Agency – Plovdiv

State Archives Agency – Burgas

State Archives Agency – Sliven

Photo archive Todor Slavchev

Regional Library at the Iskra Community Centre – Kazanlak

Varna Free University “Chernorizets Hrabar”

 

 

The catalog

 

The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual (in Bulgarian and English) catalog of 78 pages, presenting all the information from the 30 boards. Since June 2017, it has been distributed to bookstores across the country.

 

 

The exhibition visited:

 

  1. Varna, Varna Free University “Chernorizets Hrabar” (20.IV-02.V.2017)
  2. Burgas, Cultural Center “Sea Casino” (9.V-2.VI.2017) – the building itself is one of the objects presented in the exhibition
  3. Kazanlak, Regional Library “Iskra” (3.VIII.-24.VIII.2017) – the building itself is one of the objects presented in the exhibition
  4. Sofia, National Polytechnic Museum (7.IX-27.IX.2017)
  5. Sofia, New Bulgarian University (3.X – 31.X.2017)

 

The exhibition will visit:

 

Stara Zagora, The Architect’s House (22.XI -)

Plovdiv, Total Sport

Field research

An important part of our activity is the field research. We have visited different places around Bulgaria to study and to document the history of modernist buildings. We meet the owners and residents of valuable private residential and public buildings. During our trips we explore city archives and the local press for extra information and archival photos. Field studies have revealed a lot of information for a number of buildings. This activity is also important for photo-documentation of exterior and interior details the edifices.

Currently, we have done field studies all around the country – Sofia, Plovdiv, Haskovo, Sliven, Raduntsi, Pernik, Kazanlak etc. Our ambition is to visit many places in Bulgaria but also abroad, for the places where Bulgarian architects have been working.