Architects for Urbanity have revealed the updated images for their much anticipated Varna Library project, three years after they won the open competition and the subsequent commission to further develop the project. One of the few large public buildings to be developed in Bulgaria since the political transition of the last three decades, the new Library will shelter a wealthy collection of more than 860.000 books and items; it will provide activities for the local community and become a modest landmark for the maritime capital of Bulgaria on the Black Sea coast.
The mayor of Varna, Ivan Portnih, stated in the media that the construction of the Library will start later this year, following the approval of the Library’s building permit from the local authorities earlier last year. Named after the noted Bulgarian poet Pencho Slaveykov, the Regional Library of Varna was set up by the Varna Literary Society in 1883 and has been consistently searching for a new modern building in recent decades. The new building will bring together all the departments, books and archives of the Library, which are currently scattered in six different buildings across the city.
The construction of the Library has dominated the political agenda of the Municipality of Varna over the last years, as the need for a new modern building to house the Library’s large collection and services has been a constant and increasing demand over the past decades. The chief architect of Varna, Victor Buzev, emphasized the importance of the project for the city and proclaimed that efforts to secure the funds for the construction from the national and municipal budgets are ongoing, as it is a donation campaign among the citizens and businessmen of Varna. "We are talking about a contemporary building with advanced modern solutions, latest technology in the equipment, electronic register, multimedia, multifunctional training rooms, a shared workplace, children's playground, and facilities for all ages. There will be places where, apart from reading books, will also serve as cultural centers for social encounters", stated the chief architect in a press release for varna24.bg.
The project is characterized by its simple monolithic design and the feature of the transparent double-height void that runs through its section, almost as an over-scaled urban stairwell, providing a monumental public space in the interior and a direct connection with the street level and the city. As chief architect points out: "We united around this project as it fits in the surrounding area, including the building of the Municipality of Varna”. The building refers to its adjacent socialist tower that houses the Municipality and blends with its context by featuring large textured concrete panels and translucent aluminum cladding in its facades, while the diagonal void and the entrance lobby are transparent and welcoming to the urban context: “The materials in the assignment are close to the surrounding environment, there are suspended structural facades and a double façade, known as the so-called double skin of the open space at all levels of the building, which through long ramps allows for events with a large number of people - exhibitions, performances, concerts, etc", explained Victor Buzev.
The new Varna Library will provide a multitude of services and activities for the city and the citizens of all ages. A large municipal parking for up to 300 cars will be developed in three underground floors and a new landscaped plaza will accentuate the welcoming character of the Library’s entrance and lobby spaces. The ground floor of the building will accommodate the main lobby, the visitors’ services, a café, a learning centre, a temporary exhibition space and the 200 seats municipal auditorium. All the library functions are arranged on the five main floors above, including the children and teenagers’ areas, the adult collection, the Arts and Media center, the American corner and the Deutsche Lesesaal. Various individual and group working spaces are scattered across the different levels of the building, while podiums and flexible spaces have been provided for smaller group gatherings and informal events. The Mediatheque is located on the fourth floor, alongside multimedia installations and teaching spaces. The fifth floor is dedicated to the adults collection and the main reading area for the books that are preserved in the large archive facility, which is designed as a backbone on the north façade of the building. A multifunctional pavilion with a cafeteria and outdoor landscaped areas are positioned on the last floor of the building, where users and visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
Other facilities and features of the project include a panoramic elevator on the front façade, a 24hours books return system, green roofs, warm materials on the interior spaces and an extended sequence of activities spaces and areas that can transcend the typical library functions and secure the building’s future flexibility and use as a vibrant social condenser. The public tender for the construction of the Library will be announced soon and the project will break ground later this year.
Design Development & Working Project phase: Project Architects: Irgen Salianji, Marina Kounavi – Team: Karolina Szóstkiewicz, Ferdjan Van Der Pijl, Venelin Dimitrov, Marco De Vincentiis, Maria Akrivou, Antonis Athanasiou, Harris Vamvakas
Local Architect: AM Project (arch. Alexander Minchev)