architecture: public buildings

UBA National Exhibition Center on 6 Shipka Street

Sofia, Bulgaria

Building type: Reconstruction and Renovation Project
Surface: 8 345 m²
Client: Union of Bulgarian Artists (UBA)
Project: 2014

The UBA building on 6 Shipka Street is situated in the historical part of the center of Sofia, in the immediate vicinity of the University of Sofia “St. Kliment Ohridski”, the SS. Cyril and Methodius National Library, and the Doctors’ Garden.

The building is emblematic and has a 40-year-long history, but it is clear that today it is old, depreciated, does not fulfill its functions and stands like a decomposing forbidding mass of granite and glass carrying the spirit of a long bygone era of the Bulgarian society.

The project offers the creation of a new functional structured exhibition complex. Besides all the program’s elements, it includes a busy commercial “art street” and two unique multifunctional halls, located on the ground floor and the roof terrace, that give the building the chance to become a great European Art Center.

The image of the building is distinguished by its lightness, airiness and originality. The façades are accomplished of high resistant textile membrane reminiscent of the white canvas on which art is born. The new material enables new forms and expressiveness. The soaring airy oval shapes are a metaphor of the free human spirit, of the liberated creative genius. Only over the main entrance the veil reveals the contrasting rectangular crystal and the transparent façade invites us to enter the building.

The roof terrace is an extraordinary place with amazing panoramic view on the central part of the city. The superstructure is possible of legal as well as of urban development and structural point of view. Every square meter built here will have a huge added value.

The whole ground floor, which is extremely valuable with its easy accessibility and double story height, is, unfortunately, entirely occupied by commercial sites, while the exhibition halls on the other floors suffer from inadequate natural lighting coming through the vertical windows.

The project proposes a complete reconstruction and reorganization of the exhibition complex as the program is fully observed and at the same time developed and enriched.

The night-lighting shows a new façade full of colors pouring on the white canvas. The transition between day and night, white and color can be perceived as an interpretation of the creative process of realization of a painting. The abundance of greenery in the outdoor spaces, on the ground floor and the roof terrace, binds the building to the context of a park and the Doctors’ Garden.