Ljubo Georgiev Architecture

July 18, 2012

ЖК Промяна / Change community

By: Ljubo Georgiev

Pilot for the renovation of prefab mass-housing suburbs
An initiative of Ljubo Georgiev and Delcho Delchev

(We have mentioned the authors of the photographs on this page when their names were known to us. The rest of the images have been downloaded via the internet and we would be glad to mention their authors in case approached by them.)

CHANGE COMMUNITY aims to create an example for a successful renovation in the prefab mass-housing suburbs in Bulgaria. The last twenty years have been a time when these suburbs were transformed from 'sleeping' districts into lively parts of the city. Hypermarkets, offices, restaurants, bars, 24h shops, hotels and pharmacies have become common for such areas. But these prefab neighbourhoods are also an environment where the balance between private and public has not been found yet, a domain where the lack of coordination and planning have often led to conflicts and tension. The fact that these areas are the home for hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians makes the urgency of their renovation very relevant.

Through CHANGE COMMUNITY we would like to show that the prefab neighbourhoods can be a pleasant, desired, open and sustainable urban environment. In cooperation with the inhabitants, the entrepreneurs, investors, community organisations, municipalities and the state we would like to start an pilot project, which consists of the renovation of a prefab building, as well as the infrastructure and spaces surrounding it.

The existing state or municipality programs for technical upgrade or open-air green treat the situation in a fragmentary way, but also do not address important aspects of the context: the economic and social life in the prefab suburbs. We would like to build upon the existing programmes and to propose a renovation system, which treats the neighbourhood in all its totality, covering every aspect of the life of such areas.

Besides problems, the prefab suburbs are characterised also by elements of the urban environment, which can play a decisive role in improving these areas. CHANGE COMMUNITY will work on the development of each of these elements, aiming at coordinating them in a coherent system, where the advantages from the working of one of the elements will benefit the others too, as well as the environment as a whole. These elements are: the blind facade, the roof, the facade, the open-air 'green' areas, the ground floor, smaller buildings, parking and waste.

The topic of the renovation of prefab, or similar, mass-housing neighbourhoods is very much live in all European countries. Each country is characterised by a different strategy when dealing with such areas, depending on the local property structure, the demographic situation, the economic activity, investors' interest, administrative capacity, the technical state of the buildings, etc. The Bulgarian context is different from both the Western and the Eastern European one.The overwhelming amount of private property, the substantial amount of small private investments, the small contribution on behalf of the municipality, the condition of the buildings make it necessary to work out a renovation formula, which is specific to the Bulgarian reality. The good practices and selected examples for abroad will be used as base to start a pilot, which in itself is adequate to the Bulgarian context.

CHANGE COMMUNITY will become most successful if it starts from the citizens, so that they could also be the ones favoured greatest by the project. After starting to cooperate with a group of citizens we will aim to involve the municipality and the state. In the first case we will try to build upon existing municipal programmes such as 'Green Sofia', but we will try to secure even more municipal incentives for the initiative. In the second case we believe that working together with MRRB (Ministry of regional development) will be very fruitful, having in mind the existing funds for technical renovation of the building stock. Besides the municipality and the state we believe that what will make CHANGE COMMUNITY even more successful will be the cooperation with private investors. Family businesses, energy companies or real estate investors. Such a cooperation will allow not only to reduce the financial participation of the inhabitants, but could even provide financial benefits for them. Our goal is to propose a renovation system, from which everyone can profit.

CHANGE COMMUNITY is open to collaborations. Joint work with municipal, state or citizen organisations, or with individuals, is of crucial importance to the initiative. Besides for cooperation, CHANGE COMMUNITY remains open also for criticism and ideas.


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