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concrete to culture takes over 3,000 sqm rooftop with largest graffiti mural in bulgaria

concrete to culture transforms office complex in sofia

 

Concrete to Culture is a long-term Bulgarian initiative to turn an office complex into an active community space through a collective design process that brings together locals, experts, and artists, creating mixed-use areas that are accessible to all and bridge social divides. Launched in 2023 by The Collective Foundation and 100 Chairs, the initiative has recently completed a large-scale intervention on the outskirts of Sofia, Bulgaria, close to the residential Mladost neighborhood. The transformation extends to the 3,000 sq.m. rooftop of a parking facility, where Bulgaria’s largest graffiti mural resides. This intervention will also be part of the Park Festival taking place between June 23-25, 2024. 

concrete to culture takes over 3,000 sqm rooftop with largest graffiti mural in bulgaria
all images © Yassen Jubirov

 

 

recycling 7 vacant commercial zones into a vibrant public hub

 

Beyond the rooftop, Concrete to Culture recycles and brings new life to seven vacant commercial spaces, converting them into studios for local artists. The Collective Foundation (see more here) and 100 Chairs (and here) have reimagined these underused areas as a new public hub by adding modular structures, greenery, and a diverse artistic program using cost-effective and resource-efficient means, thus reducing environmental impact and exemplifying the principles of adaptive reuse for modern urban spaces. The modular structures are designed flexibly and made predominantly from FSC-certified timber, ensuring they can be easily modified and reused. They are optimized to be reassembled yearly based on community needs and wishes. The initiative has also promoted increased greenery and biodiversity in the office complex by introducing native flora on the rooftop.

concrete to culture takes over 3,000 sqm rooftop with largest graffiti mural in bulgaria
The Collective Foundation revives a parking rooftop as a vibrant cultural space

 

 

a participatory design process bridging art, culture and work

 

This collaboration ensures a high aesthetic and functional quality of the new spaces. For example, a popular desire for a public swimming pool, while impossible to meet in practice at this stage, is creatively realized via the giant mural covering the concrete rooftop in abstract blue patterns, creating the impression of water. This artwork, painted by artists XPOME, Djo Venci, and Aleksi Varna, represents the city’s largest art piece and one of Europe’s largest ground murals. Furthermore, employees and residents of all ages got to participate in workshops in various media, including painting, calligraphy, street art, and dance. With input from locals, the participating artists contributed to the office complex’s transformation, crafting site-specific works that animated open and indoor spaces. Finally, a diverse event programming, including cinema, music, traditional crafts, contemporary circus, theater, and art performances, serves to bring life to an otherwise ‘cultural desert‘.

concrete to culture takes over 3,000 sqm rooftop with largest graffiti mural in bulgaria
a collaboration with a huge team of artists, businesses, and organizations

 

 

Concrete to Culture brought together the workers commuting to the office and the residents, using a combination of art and architecture, dissolving the boundary between these two community groups. Residents in the Mladost district, which lacks public and natural spaces, now enjoy more accessible outdoor areas, while office workers benefit from having a community, not just a commute. ‘The initiative stands as a testament to inclusive design. We found a way to combine community input and shared decision-making with guidance from experts in architecture and urbanism. The multi-level process included interviews with 26 community members chosen to represent key demographics and a survey with over 480 respondents to gain a broad view of popular needs,’ concludes the team. The project won the 2024 New European Bauhaus Prize

concrete to culture takes over 3,000 sqm rooftop with largest graffiti mural in bulgaria
Concrete to Culture ensures a high aesthetic and functional quality of the new spaces

concrete to culture takes over 3,000 sqm rooftop with largest graffiti mural in bulgaria
the modular structures are designed flexibly and made predominantly from FSC-certified timber,

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concrete to culture takes over 3,000 sqm rooftop with largest graffiti mural in bulgaria
the project won the New European Bauhaus prize 2024

concrete to culture takes over 3,000 sqm rooftop with largest graffiti mural in bulgaria
hosting a rich program for people of all ages

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