Monday, 30 April 2007
Sofia's old buildings
The oldest part of the city (about a century old) is the area enclosed by Konstantin Velichkov blvd. and Skobelev blvd. to the west, Banishora district and Maria Luiza blvd. to the north, Oborishte district to the east and Patriarch Evtimii blvd. to the south. The northern part of the centre is less preserved but is less influenced by the more recent architecural trends (recent here to be understood as the years after the second World War). The old buildings here might not be as lavish as the ones in the south-eastern part of the centre, but yet they still bear the spirit of old times when the capital had no more than 50-100 000 inhabitants and the centre was in fact the whole city.
During World War II Sofia suffered bomb strikes by the US and UK's air forces and many of the architectural masterpieces were completely destroyed. Some of them were rebuilt but lost their glory. Others were replaced by massive grey blocks to house the incoming workforce from all over the country. With the communists coming to power the old way of living was gone, the owners of property had different fate and in 1989 (when comunism fell) it turned out that many of these houses were abandoned and either it was arguable whose property they were, or it wasn't known at all whom they belonged to.
One by one, they were left on their own and to time. Day by day thy've been turning into ruins.
There is a special regulation for protection from dangerous buildings. If they are not within standards, their owners are obliged to apply the necessary repairs. If the owner can't be found, well, then...the building is demolished. There are also cases in which the land under the building is bought by an investor and the building is destroyed, then a new lavish glass-and-concrete monster is erected.
In cases when the threatened building is of cultural importance, the investor is obliged to offer a solution in which it is preserved or the reconstruction plan fits with specific requirements for preserving the outlook of
the old building.
The place on the photos is on Budapest street near the crossing with Dondukov blvd. Considering the area, the ruins might soon be replaced with a new block of flats.
It looks like there has been another house in front of the one painted in brown. I presume that almost all furniture and devices have been taken/stolen beforehand (like it usually happens). The chair was the only thing I noticed to be completely preserved. I guess it's been used by the workers who have demolished the house.
On one of the photos one can see what the shape of the house has been like. It has been very common to attach a structure to the neighbouring one. There secondly built has no separate wall, only some thin coverage over which wallpapers are placed. This makes the second building very unstable, especially in cases when it has suffered major reconstructions and important columns have been removed. A tragic example of what might happen in such cases - here.
The problem comes when there's a combination between cultural importance and danger. Till now the regulations don't prove to be good. Otherwise tragedies wouldn't happen or old buildings wouldn't be demolished and the culturale heritage of our capital - lost. Where's the "exit" ("изход" in Bulgarian, "izhod" with latin letters) of all this?