2015 - 2019
Sofia, Bulgaria / Build Systems
The building site is located in close proximity to the city center and is directly facing part of the Medical Academy. During the last twenty years the area has been undergoing intense densification. The programme is mainly residential but it responds to the specific needs of the place with some of the biggest national hospitals in the neighbourhood. The building accommodates medical practices in the first three levels, the next several floors are left for specific smaller units to be rented to students, and the upper floors have regular family apartments. A relatively separate part is reserved for the plot owners’ private needs. Thus, the functional mix stemming from the specific locality becomes a social one as well, counteracting to the growing number of repetitive closed housing complexes in the periphery of the city. The new building reacts to the heterogeneity of the place not with its revised programme alone, but mainly through its architectural language. The neighbourhood is comprised of the vanishing eclectic houses from the first half of the 20th century, the rigid socialist Modernist high-rise of the Medical Academy, and the kitschy, pseudo-contemporary housing blocks from the 2000 onwards. The design aims at a maximum individualization while preserving the entity of the façade. To the random patterns of the adjacent blocks and the rigidity of the hospital, the Zdrave building responds
with a broader set of façade elements organized by a number of geometrical rules. In order to further break the monotony of the housing units perforated aluminium panels are introduced as additional elements covering the windows. Their pattern is in the smallest scale and corresponds to the pixelation of the entire residential façade which could be read in the varying window openings up to the perforated roof, and finally in the four partite square units, which form the largest grid of the façade. A further visual distinction is sought between the public and the residential parts in their different treatments, materials and scale. Both are horizontally separated by a thin goldish line that corresponds to the height of the lower hospital volume. Despite its larger public scale, the glass façade below the line is subdivided by the uneven verticals of the glazing. With their upper parts goldish and popping out, the verticals are discretely outlining the silhouettes of the two houses that existed on the plot and thus are partly preserving the memory of them. The introduction of the smaller scale, the use of bricks and the footprint of the old silhouettes on the façade, all attempt to reconcile the loss of the abandoned houses with the need of the city centre for sustainable densification. The design aims at finding a middle ground, oscillating between the Modernist iterations across the street and the arbitrariness of the adjacent blocks.