The Buzludzha Project is a proposed design for the conservation of the Buzludzha Memorial House. Created by the Bulgarian architect Dora Ivanova, to date it remains the only comprehensive architectural solution so far proposed for the monument's future.
The Buzludzha Project proposes a careful and respectful reconstruction of the monument. It aims to preserve the monument for future generations, while incorporating new museum elements in order to present a full and comprehensive account of Bulgarian history.
българската версия | Bulgarian Version: www.buzludzha-project.com
In its original design, the Buzludzha Monument celebrated the story of the Bulgarian Communist Party. This project intends to add new installations dedicated to the periods of antiquity, the Middle Ages, and Bulgaria's more recent transition to democracy.
In its presentation of the past, the project will seek to encourage interaction on the part of the visitor – building an experience that invites participation, and emotional subjectivity.
The visitor experience is directed along two dimensions within the monument: narratives told through Horizontal and Vertical tours.
Moving in a Horizontal dimension through the monument, a series of interactive spaces will use the existing architecture of the building – its central hall, mosaics, corridors and wings – to trace a chronology of Bulgarian history from the present day, back to the creation of the First Bulgarian State.
FORUM: Present (1989–)
In the monument's main hall, the existing marble slabs will be cleaned and fitted with 400 soft seats – to allow the space to host a variety of events such as concerts, conferences and stage performances. The hall will be enabled to serve as a forum for modern art, for fashion shows, cinema and literature readings.
Meanwhile, the seats themselves will provide an exhibition of events in Bulgaria from 1989 (the end of the socialist period) up to the present day; by celebrating non-political national achievements in sports, the sciences and art.
The names of selected Bulgarians will be inscribed on the seats to mark each new national success, and in this way the monument will continue to showcase the country's ongoing narrative.
INNER CIRCLE: Socialism (1944–1989)
The mosaic ring surrounding the central hall was intended to tell the story of socialism in Bulgaria – and it will continue to do so. The remaining stones will be preserved in place, while the missing 20% will be carefully recreated in the form of two-dimensional wire sculptures. These will allow the visitor to picture the missing elements, in order to understand the complete picture of the mosaics.
The base plate onto which these wires are mounted with feature metal panels inscribed with information explaining the mosaic above. Opposite these, meanwhile, visible when the visitor faces inward towards the central chamber, discrete multimedia screens will explain the mosaics on the far side of the hall as well as highlighting semantic links between individual compositions.
CORRIDOR: Ottoman Occupation (1396–1878)
The corridor between the inner hall and outer wings of the monument will examine the fate of Bulgaria under Ottoman rule. The walls of this passage will be left in their current, decayed state – to be accompanied by a black floor and ceiling, creating the effect of a dark and oppressive tunnel.
Thin beams of natural light will enter through a glass strip in the ceiling. Emphasis here will be placed on the story of Hadzhi Dimitar and his rebel detachment, who battled for freedom on this very peak.
Informative displays relating the history of Bulgaria during this period will be emotionally enhanced by an atmosphere of darkness and constricted space.
WINGS: Middle Ages (681–1396)
Around the outermost circle of the monument, each of the 16 supporting columns will be appointed with the image of one of Bulgaria's rulers. The work of these historical figures will be described in panels set beneath the windows.
The windows themselves will not sit in their original positions, but rather will be brought inside the concrete shell. This gives a greater freedom of view, as well as reinforcing the sense that the visitor space is removed from the concrete structure that forms the focus of the exhibition.
This outer space of the monument is intended to offer a synthesis of natural landscapes juxtaposed with the proud, imperial history of Bulgaria from 681 to 1396 AD.
Exploring the Buzludzha Monument along a vertical axis will provide an entirely different visitor experience. Visitors are invited to learn about prehistoric Bulgaria in the subterranean spaces of the monument, before climbing the 70m tower as they move progressively through the country's history – all the way to the present day, at the tower's highest point.
BASEMENT: Antiquity (Prehistory–681 AD)
In the basement of the monument, a series of three halls will feature exhibits dedicated to, respectively: the period of prehistory in Bulgaria (up until 1200 BCE); the Thracian Kingdoms (1200 BCE - 100 AD); and the era of Bulgars and Slavs (100 - 681 AD). Each of these spaces will be larger than the last, as befits the increasing volume of historical information available.
These underground halls offer a place where various theories regarding the origins of the Bulgarian people can be presented and compared; and at the end of the third chamber, this period of antiquity culminates with the founding of the First Bulgarian State in 681 AD.
SCENIC ELEVATOR: Khans & Tsars (681–1944)
The tour continues in a vertical direction, as visitors ascend in a panoramic elevator.
A glass wall to this external lift installation allows spectacular views over the mountain ridge, while moving past a succession of key dates and names inscribed into the concrete of the tower. These offer a chronological overview of Bulgarian history from 681 to 1944 AD, featuring the names and years of succession of each Bulgarian ruler. The installation of this elevator will also serve as a structural reinforcement to the tower.
RUBY CHAMBER: Socialism (1944–1989)
The tower becomes broader higher up, and here the elevator delivers visitors into a large space located between the 12-metre decorative stars. The scaffold floors that currently divide this space will be removed, to allow an unhindered view of the stars from the interior.
The lift passes slowly through this space. The chamber is 17 metres in height, and the walls will be painted black to contrast dramatically with the red light shining through the glass stars.
This Ruby Chamber offers an emotive representation of the socialist period, combining large, powerful architecture with the frailty implied by broken ruby glass.
PANORAMIC HALL: Transition (1989–?)
At the highest point inside the tower, visitors arrive in a glass-walled viewing space.
Dramatic views are offered to the east and the west, symbolic of the cultural and political polarities along which Bulgaria would reorientate itself during this difficult period of transition.
In this panoramic hall the floor will extend into a glass platform on which visitors can stand – the space invites participation, and will likely evoke feelings of fear and instability that will resonate with the more prevalent emotions associated with this particular period.
SKY TERRACE: Present & Future
A staircase leads visitors up to the final level of the tour.
Here they enter an open-air terrace on top of the tower, measuring 80 square metres and surrounded by a glass safety railing. A 360-degree panorama provides breathtaking views over modern Bulgaria – thus bringing the visitor into direct contact with the reality of the present.
On a clear day, the view from the balcony stretches more than 100km – spanning the mountain range, the Danube Plain in the north and Thracian Valley to the south.
BUZLUDZHA PROJECT FOUNDATION
The Buzludzha Project Foundation is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the preservation of the memorial house on Buzludzha Peak.
The foundation was created by Dora Ivanova: a Bulgarian architect who first presented her Buzludzha plans as part of her diploma, while studying architecture at the Technical University of Berlin. After finishing her studies in December 2014, she brought the project back to Bulgaria with the hope of seeing it become a reality.
The project has gained a lot of media attention in Bulgaria, where Ivanova has made numerous television appearances to campaign for the monument's restoration according to her plan.
Discussions about the future of the monument have become more serious since 2018, following Europa Nostra's recognition of the monument as one of the "7 Most Endangered Heritage Sites in Europe" – and Ivanova's proposal for restoration remains the only full and realistic plan anyone has so far presented.
For further information or to make a donation to the Buzludzha Project Foundation, contact Dora Ivanova at: firstname.lastname@example.org