During drilling work for the expansion of Sofia’s city centre underground in Bulgaria, a vast site of ruins from the ancient Thracian and Roman city of Serdica resurfaced. A grid structure dating back to the Byzantine era, more than seven metres under ground level, was found stretching across Nezavisimost Square, surrounded by imposing Stalinist buildings. The Austrian architecture studio Baar-Baarenfels enshrined the ruins by encasing them in three parametric-designed glass domes – conceived to resemble drops of water, they expose and inform of the city’s past, in stark contrast with their 20th-century surroundings.
This month (from January 31 to May 10) the Nezavisimost Square project will be highlighted at Public Architecture – Future for Europe at Moscow’s Schusev State Museum of Architecture, alongside the works of more than 40 European architecture firms and academics committed to developing “alternative approaches and new architecture along with the respect for cultural heritage in Europe”.
The exhibition – held in cooperation with European Cultural Centre, an organisation devoted to the promotion of cultural exchange – will showcase “realised, not yet realised and even dream projects for the future of public architecture in Europe”, offering ideas and models on urban development, city planning and environmental concerns.
The projects on show across nine rooms include Architectural Democracy, a project that uses modular design and minimalistic renovation to turn a 115-year-old abandoned school in the outskirts of Helkinsi into a “gamified co-housing and co-working economy”; the redevelopment of the Levante Marinaressa Garden in Venice by Oblò Architetti, who built a path around the iconic inclined pine trees of the lagoon-fronted garden so that it could accommodate open-air public art exhibitions; and Christoph Hesse’s outlandish concrete constructions in the project Grounded, which was realised with the aim to connect “built, natural and social environments”.
Public Architecture – Future for Europe will also showcase public projects by the Mies van der Rohe Foundation; Schulz und Schulz and Iwan Baan; Kengo Kuma; Peter Kulka Architects; Daniel Libeskind and Sei Studio.