urban planning

Europe bridge

Sofia, Bulgaria

Description: Europe bridge in Sofia redevelopment plan
Dimensions: 15 meters width / 174 meters length
Redevelopment plan: 2009

In Sofia there is a walking bridge which unites the two parts of the South Park over the busy Boulevard Bulgaria. This bridge links also two very important official buildings: The Museum of Nature and Man and NDK, the National Palace of Culture. With its impressive dimensions (15 meters width and 174 meters length), it is one of the favorite city spots for the citizens to wander about over the dynamic traffic of the city. Here they can enjoy the panoramic landscape of Vitosha National Park.
On this walking street are already organised numerous exhibitions as well as popular recitals. The bridge has thus become one of the cultural hotspots of Sofia.
Unfortunately the bridge has come more and more into disarray and its surface is not used efficiently. Its floors and handrails are severely damaged and nearby the large open spaces reserved for gardens are badly maintained if not at all.
The project consists in a redevelopment of the walking space between NDK and the Museum of Nature and Man in order to transform it into the European Bridge, to become a symbol of modern Sofia. It seems important to allow this area to open itself more to the Bulgarian capital and to keep up itself with new ideas.
Its transformation into a place of cultural exchanges, of international diversity and of spiritual unity will correspond to the ideal of the European Union. Consequently all year long it will be the center of various artistic exhibitions.
The main characteristics of the project are the following:
-27 stylised stars, embedded into the floor, symbolising each one of the EU member
-32 banks, with 5 included for the future EU members
-A central amphitheater representing the Union between these states around a common goal.
The wanderer on the bridge will successfully cross three walking areas along its length, realised with natural components. The central part will be paved in stones and simulate an open air walking street leading to the amphitheatre. The two lateral pathways will be floored with exotic wood in a dark color. They will be emblazoned by the stylised stars in a lighter colored wood material. On the point of each star and with a different orientation each time will stand a panel presenting attractive information on the corresponding European country. These panels will also be used for temporary exhibitions as well.
The bridge will be covered with a metallic structure shaped like a bow, on which will be fixed transparent and blue sheets, leaving the center of the pathway clear. The blue color symbolizes the planet Earth as well as Peace and the European Community. The new lateral protections will gracefully complement the oval shape of the bridge. An important part of the existing nearby green spaces will be cleared away so that the existing structure will appear lighter and will be able to support additional weights.
The central element of the bridge symbolizes the Union between the European states. On its floor one can discover a beautiful stylised blue mosaic representing the external borders of the European Community. It is surrounded by the amphitheatre, dominated by an oval totem of poles, each proudly displaying one of the European flags. This imposing sculpture refers to the Bulgarian legend of the bunch of sticks representing the strength in unity versus the weakness in division.
The nocturnal lighting of the Europe Bridge with several types of lights will stress and enhance its graceful shape. With its deep blue color this site will be worthy of an important European capital city.

Stefan Dobrev architect and urbanist