On December 16, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. in the Architect’s House Prof. Arch. Rositsa Nikiforova PhD and Associate Professor Stancho Vekov on behalf of the Varna Design Forum NGO presented to colleagues and guests their latest fifth edition in a row, Architecture and Leisure, 2022 with the assistance of Varna Regional College of the Chamber of Architects in Bulgaria, Union of architects in Bulgaria and Toplivo JSC. The book summarizes and expands the information in the NGO’s documentary exhibition from the summer of this year dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the XI Congress of the International Union of Architects in Varna (1972-2022).
The events of the congress and related to its theme “Architecture and Leisure” implementations from the 1970s are the subject of research by Prof. Arch. Rositsa Nikiforova PhD, Prof. Arch. Todor Krustev DSc and Assoc. Prof. Arch. Stancho Vekov PhD.
It was the high international evaluation of the Bulgarian architecture of leisure at that time that was the reason why in 1972 Varna hosted the most prestigious world forum of the International Union of Architects.
The exhibition and the book present architects from the 1970s and the two models of attitude towards the achievements of resort construction 50 years later: preservation of the objects and spaces or their complete neglect and demolition.
“There are events with good fortune – when they cease to exist as fact, they continue to emerge in time as myth. This is how I see the XI Congress of the UIA (International Union of Architects), held from September 24 to September 30, 1972 in the Palace of Culture and Sports in Varna. This congress is the only international architectural congress held in Bulgaria. Bulgaria`s hosting was a recognition of architectural achievements and scientific developments in line with the theme of the congress “Architecture and Leisure”. These were years of construction of important resort complexes along the Black Sea (Albena, Rusalka, Golden Sands, Druzhba, Sunny Beach). The authors were the famous architects: Nikola Nikolov, Nikolay Nenov, Georgi Ganev, Milena Yordanova, Mikhail Sokolovski, Evgeni Zidarov, Marin Marinov, Zhechko Cholakov, Virginia Popova and others.
We realize that the 1970s were still a time of worldview delusions. After the Second World War, professional information about the achievements of world architecture arrived with great delay and filtered. Nevertheless, Bulgarian architecture was not an architecture “of the periphery” and did not seem deluded, and Bulgarian architects were clearly in the course of world trends”, summarizes Prof. Nikifirova.
As the author of the book, she develops the documentary value of the exhibition by publishing informational materials from the congress, including booklets on the achievements of individual Bulgarian architects, some of whom are rarely or not at all present in the modern digital environment.
Also added are the testimonies of architects, relatives and like-minded people in whose memories the personality and creative aspirations of the Bulgarian architects from that not-so-distant but now-forgotten time come to life. In this sense, bringing the architectural memory out of the analog format of the past is an essential merit of the book.
“This is an amazing book, which we owe to Varna Design Forum and especially to the persistence and consistency of Prof. Arch. Rositsa Nikiforova PhD, its founder and manager.
In 2022, Varna Design Forum (with the assistance of Varna Regional College of the Chamber of Architects in Bulgaria, Varna municipality, “Toplivo” JSC, Union of architects in Bulgaria, etc.) organized the exhibition “50 years of the XI UIA Congress, “Architecture and Leisure”. This exhibition, which was shown in Sofia and Burgas in addition to Varna, brought us back to a significant period in the development of our modern architecture, of Union of architects in Bulgaria and UIA. This was a period in which modern architectural works of high value were created in our country, especially in the architecture of mass (social) recreation and especially on our Black Sea coast. Many of the works shown in the exhibition are benchmarks for modern thinking and professionalism. They are true cultural and artistic “artifacts” from 40-50 years ago. Unfortunately, their cultural and historical value was not realized by society in the 1990s, and even after that. Many of them today have been transformed, destroyed and defaced (and this also finds a place in the exhibition). Now, in the book, we return to the works and prominent artists of this period, and this is another essentially “pioneering” experience from which I believe many ideas will develop”, highly appreciates the Varna Design Forum book the President of the Union of the Bulgarian architects Prof. Arch. Todor Bulev PhD.