The Buzludzha Museum is a design project for the conservation of the Buzludzha Memorial House, created by the Bulgarian architect Dora Ivanova. This updated proposal takes into account all the feedback gathered during the public discussions that she organised and chaired between 2015 and 2018.

 

 

Project Rationale

The Buzludzha monument is unique in terms of its history, architecture and art. Even in its current decayed condition, thousands of people travel from around the world to visit the site – and many of them are left with unanswered questions: How and why was such a structure built? What was it used for? What do the mosaics represent? How was it destroyed and why? The Buzludzha Museum will provide answers to all of those questions.

The Buzludzha Memorial House was built to celebrate the Bulgarian Communist Party – and so any painstaking, loving recreation of the monument in its original form could give the impression of celebrating those same ideologies. We don’t want to do that. But neither will this project adapt or repurpose the monument, forgetting or disguising its original intention.

What we want is to preserve this unique work of architecture, while offering a critical and objective explanation of its history and purpose. We believe that traumatic history should never be forgotten… but instead be remembered, explained, discussed, and used as a basis for further education.


The Buzludzha Museum will:

Not Rewrite
Not Celebrate
But Explain
The Monument’s History

Not Hide
Not Honour
But Remember
The Monument’s Purpose

Not Add to
Not Adapt
But Preserve
The Monument’s Design

 

 

OVERVIEW

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Structural Layout

The Saucer
Main Hall: Ideology
Corridor: Oppression
Outer Ring: Everyday Life

Basement
Gallery: The Monument

Tower
Elevator: Star Chamber
Observation Deck: Panorama

 

 

The SPACES

Main Hall
The amphitheatre will feature detailed explanations of its mosaic panels, which cover an area of 1000+ square metres. These mosaics – a symbolic history of the communist movement, colourfully illustrated in the socialist-realist style – will be protected against further decay, but also balanced by the provision of critical historical evaluation.

 

Corridor
This area will be preserved as it appears now – rough, decayed, and with an oppressive atmosphere. Here visitors will learn about the political and social repressions under Bulgaria’s communist government, balancing the otherwise bright and optimistic account offered by the original mosaic artwork.

 

Outer Ring
The outer ring of mosaic panels, on the balcony, present scenes of domestic life under communism. With the windows repaired and the building insulated against the exterior climate, this area will provide a space for walking and contemplation between the stone mosaics and mountain views.

 

Gallery
The monument’s basement will be developed to offer a narrative of the monument itself, with a gallery that showcases the full process from first designs through to construction, and the monument’s grand opening ceremony. Additional facilities will be located underground, including bathrooms and a cloakroom, as per the original design.

 

Elevator
The monument originally featured an elevator built into its tower, and this function will be restored – now with a glass elevator that provides visitors with breathtaking mountain views. The elevator will rise up the exterior of the tower before entering the chamber behind the stars, creating a dramatic interplay of light and darkness before emerging at the rooftop observation deck.

 

Observation Deck
Finally, the panoramic observation deck at the top of the tower will provide exceptional 360-degree views across the surrounding landscape. A glass ‘sky-walk’ allows braver visitors to walk out beyond the overhang for a dizzying downward view, while a map of the region points out a number of other nearby attractions within view.

 

 

THE VISITOR EXPERIENCE

The Buzludzha Museum proposal chooses to preserve the monument as a spectacular educational experience – rather than restoring it to its original form, and risk honouring the ideologies it was built to celebrate. This proposal will see many of the building’s interior spaces frozen in their current, semi-ruined state. Through the use of modern technology however, visitors will still be able to revisit Buzludzha during its heyday.

 

3D Mapping
With the help of Sofia-based MP Studio, the Buzludzha Museum will use 3D projection mapping to bring the monument to life. Missing sections of mosaic can be projected onto the walls, while also allowing vast scope for educational light shows and seasonal exhibits.

 

Augmented Reality
The museum will take advantage of virtual, augmented and mixed reality formats, to create a truly unique visitor experience. Audio guides will be accompanied by VR headsets, allowing visitors to experience immersive and unforgettable self-guided tours.