Part of a chain or not – what will be the future of the Sofia halls – Bulgaria

© Georgi Kozhukharov

The central halls in Sofia

The Kaufland chain has a preliminary contract for the purchase of Sofia’s Central Halls, but whether the change of ownership will take place depends on how the interior of the store will be reconstructed and whether the potential investor will make a profit if it keeps the spirit of the old Sofia covered market. .

This is clear from a meeting of the Specialized Expert Council for the Protection of Immovable Cultural Property, which the Ministry of Culture published in youtube.

From the comments of the experts it is understood that the German chain has commissioned the Bulgarian architectural bureau “Int Arch” to prepare conceptual projects for reconstruction, to be approved by the Bulgarian authorities, but also to meet the rules of modern trade for supply and control of visitors. as a result to bring and profit.

The difficulties are related to possible in-depth archaeological finds if the delivery ramp is redesigned, as required by logistics for access to larger trucks. The building is located in the center of the archeological reserve “Ancient Serdika” and it is expected that under it there will be a fortress wall and an ancient street. A possible redesign of the ramp would only be possible after in-depth archaeological research, archaeologists have warned.

A variant of the conceptual design presented to the expert council.


A variant of the conceptual design presented to the expert council.

The interior solution with the so-called travelators (moving paths) to the lower level of the store on the site of the current escalators is also problematic. The reason is that they interrupt the main axis of the building immediately after the main entrance and instead of opening space for visitors, as the idea of ​​the original project, direct them to the lower level. Otherwise, the architects have agreed to restore the central fountain, designed by the architect of the building Naum Torbov in the early 20th century, which was not realized during construction. However, the expert council criticized that access to the fountain would be indirect.

Arch. Popmarkova, on behalf of the contracting authorities, warned that in order to meet all the requirements for free space, as was the case during the covered market with small shops, potential investors will reduce the range to a minimum. At the same time, marketing research among the customers of the halls showed that they get the goods that are missing there from the competing chains “Billa” and “Liddle”.

Arch. Petkana Bakalova, a member of the council, commented that in the project “the stands remain lined up like in large chain stores and do not resemble the function of the halls as a covered market”, and the interior looks like a warehouse.

The director of the National Institute for Immovable Cultural Heritage arch. Petar Petrov added that if the atmosphere of the old building is recreated, it will be beneficial for the retail chain itself. He suggested that the design of the stands be varied in order to preserve the spirit. Arch. Popmarkova replied that the design would be entrusted to a Viennese company specializing in this – the introduction of large retail chains in buildings – cultural monuments.

The designer stressed that the building is collapsing, and if the project is approved, it will guarantee investment and support from the future owner.

However, no decision was reached and the designers were advised to take the comments into account. they in turn clarified that the investor would not wait more than a month.

Option for the location of the stands from the conceptual design.


Option for the location of the stands from the conceptual design.

The Ministry of Culture reminds that the building has been privately owned since 1999. It has the status of a single architectural, construction and artistic immovable cultural property with the category “national
The property falls within the boundaries of the archeological reserve “Ancient Serdika and Medieval Sredets”, and protection regimes are provided for it.

The central halls were built as a covered market in 1911 on the site of temporary buildings. Under socialism, they were reconstructed and turned into a banal supermarket. In 1988, the halls were closed again with the idea of ​​renovation, but the project did not materialize and collapsed for many years. They were reopened only in 2000, after the Israeli company Ashrom formed a joint venture with Sofia Municipality and invested in preserving the building. Later, the municipality sold its stake and today the already registered in Cyprus company “Ashrom” is the sole owner of the capital. Before kovid – the pandemic owner had announced a plan to find there permanent farmers’ market, but apparently the idea failed.


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