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Anatomy of Sofia Roma slums. Remedies for public space.

Part 2 Project 2014
Ivan Bonev
University of Architecture,Civil Engineering and Geodesy Sofia Bulgaria
The project argues that self-organized urban development in the context of Bulgarian Roma slums is rich of qualities and lacks mainly infrastructure, maintenance and relation to the city. It proposes a strategic program and tools for renovation, education and cultural exchange designed as a community kick-start center.

Roma population in Bulgaria has been persistently socially and culturally isolated for the past half a century. Consequently, since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Roma communities have been developing as urban slums. The living environment within them is mainly self-organized, stamped by poverty and illegality. Space organization is driven by primary daily activities as an effort of families to survive. Looking for more space they reshape streets and public spaces, alienating whole neighbourhoods from the city. Sofia’s district “Fakulteta” is one of the most vivid examples of ethnic slums in Bulgaria.

The project recognizes the source of social, cultural and urban isolation as an “illness” of public space. As a base for a “remedy”, it conducts anatomical study of social and urban Roma profile and maps historical development of “Fakulteta” district since 1989. The qualities and potential of both public and private space are embedded in a proposal in two scales:
- Overall strategy for regeneration of community spaces, sustainable development and social integration;
- Community kick-start center - an acupuncture intervention as an activation tool.

The proposal functions as a mediator between the city and the ghetto. It appropriates vague spaces, activating the neighbourhood from the inside. Temporary structures carry a broad functional program bridging the social gap. Hosted by a massive base (found as a canopy), they shape a permanent public space for community activities and recover infrastructure in a perimeter. The design aims to provide possibilities for growth and shrink of the program, mobility to different slum areas and to leave a permanent mark on urban habitat and quality of life.

As a result, the project defines a mechanism and tools for dealing with social isolation and urban poverty. It creates a place for education, restoration, community activities and most importantly, establishes connections with the rest of the city.

Ivan Bonev

Tutor(s)

2014
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