Zdravko Zdravkov (left) and Kristiaan Borret, Source: Krassimir Svrakov/

Turning industrial ruins into attractive urban spaces

Turning industrial ruins into attractive urban spaces

Brussels and Sofia architects discussed urban transformation patterns

Do not demolish vacant and less functional buildings in your city to make room for the construction of new ones in their place, but "revive" them in order to use their potential in the future. With this appeal Kristiaan Borret, bouwmeester (equivalent to chief architect) of the Brussels Capital Region addressed the participants in the discussion "Talking about the City: A Compact City". He attended the Sofia forum at the invitation of Zdravko Zdravkov, Chief Architect of Sofia Municipality, reported

In front of the participating architects and experts, Borret presented plans for the refurbishment of key transformation zones in Brussels such as the canal, the port and the downtown rail cluster.

"Something new must be done from existing buildings. Old spaces should be used. We should look for complexity, not simplification," the Belgian architect said.

In turn, Arch. Zdravko Zdravkov pointed out the similarities between Sofia and Brussels: in size, urban fabric structure, formation around ancient remains and the existence of a "dividing line" between the rich north and the poor south areas. According to Zdravkov, the goal is to find the right transformation models.

New life for dilapidated barracks and railway stations

Many of Sofia's industrial zones, former barracks or dysfunctional rail stations are deserted and could be turned into interesting and attractive urban spaces. A compact city means a city that is not expanding, but is increasingly utilizing the existing space, emphasized Zdravkov.

"684 hectares of land – these are the (disused) railway areas and the former industrial zones. Compared to the area of ​​Lyulin district, they are almost the size of a new neighborhood. To redevelop them, it will be enough to find ways of the municipality, the businesses and the state working together," said the chief architect of Sofia.

One way to do this is to launch more and transparent competitions for projects on buildings and public spaces. This guarantees higher quality, as well as security for the entrepreneurs, noted Borret.

"I think it's good to have a lot of debate about these projects. Because the city is not just created by the state, the mayor, or even by brilliant architects. It's made by many people. By the citizens. Because sometimes their opinion is more professional than that of the best experts," concluded the Belgian guest.



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