Thursday, July 3, 2014

Plovdiv, Central Square architectural competition

The competition theme is Central Square – the largest open public space in the city of Plovdiv where most of the significant historical periods of the city overlap.

Most of the historical and architectural layers the city is famous for intersect right here,so that is why the proposed solution seeks to harmonize all these layers and turn the space in an interesting, functional and modern urban area. The competition area has been divided into four thematic zones and thus is developed and the proposed solution.

Key areas are large Central Square which has almost no activity and archaeological excavations that exist in its composition without any indication. There are underground passages under the large Tsar Boris III Obedinitel Blvd. and the Trimontium hotel parking area. Thus three problems were solved: establishing functional and attractive modern square emphasis on underground layers of ancient Plovdiv as a tourist attraction; solving pedestrian traffic and solution to the problem of parking.

The main area of ​​the square is conceptually divided into two parts, one in space before the building of the former Communist Party House and the other before The Post Office. The space is even physically separated by the spiral ramp that descends from the dome of the parking garage. Within this pad is provided the open gallery space. Movement on ramp opens a promising view of the whole square and archaeological excavations.

Square before the building of the former Communist Party House is the main gathering place for people and therefore is formed in a way to resemble the ancient forum located below it. The metal frame is made by perimeter, coverage in the form of an atrium which occupies a central place with great fountain. Paving is decorated with elements derived from Bulgarian folklore and a combination of red and white marble with paver elements. There are benches built-in by the fountain and summer tribune within the spiral ramp. The presence of water from the fountain gives freshness in the long summer days and brings nature into urban life center.

Part of the Square in front of The Post Office has several functions. It represents an approach to the main part of the square, access to Grant Park Tsar Simeon's Garden and touches The Western Propylaea and The Northern Forum. Because it’s a function is complex the proposal solution of this square is paved with simple design highlighted inline movement decoration which leads man to activities that taking place in the square. It is highlighted with floor LEED lighting. There are intelligent display panels giving information about the archaeological site and mark where they are located. Embedded elements are parking for bikes, benches and information boards. At the entrance to the park is set glass assembly building which containing rooms for tourist information, museum of archaeological excavations of the Forum of Ancient Plovdiv and child cyber tech space to play. There is also a summer theater.

All electricity needed for lighting, operation of the information displays and the facilities are getting from a set of solar and photovoltaic panels, which contributes to the sustainability of the project.

The three underpasses are getting new items. The Archaeological underpass retains access ramps and stairs, but in the tunnel is built glasses displays through that are visible archaeological excavations and through touch panels’ people get the information about the history of the town.

The other two underpasses, The Trimontium hotel underpass and Gladstone St.underpass receive new spiral ramps and stairs for access, covered with a metal frame with set greenery in the form of segmented domes reminiscent of wars helmets by the army of Philip II in honor of founder of the city of Plovdiv. They are also small domes and marks points along the boulevard. The boulevard also set new bus stops with intelligent displays giving information about traffic and events in the city.

The Northern Forum gets coverage in the same way as the coverage of the main square, with detachable metal construction with built-in lighting. The approach of the square is the spiral ramp and stairs that lead to underground Gladstone St. through the glass wall to the forum.

Parking before the Trimontium hotel has been transformed into a modern parking garage made ​​into glass facade divided into two areas. On top of the garage exits the spiral ramp that visitors directly lead down to the main square while they enjoying in the perspective view of the entire city center.

All urban elements that are embedded in the architectural concept allow socialization of people, a clear orientation and easy accessibility to persons with disabilities. The modern approach emphasizes sustainability and emphasize pedestrian and bicycle traffic as a healthy and environmentally conscious movement in the centers of cities.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Happy National Women in Engineering Day

Today is National Women in Engineering Day - 23 June 2014 - a day dedicated to raising the profile and celebrating the achievements of women in engineering.

I'm a woman and for 10 years I'm professionally signed as a Engineer of Architecture. In mean time, I've achieved the Master of Science degree. I was lucky enough to be educated in a free country where my rights as a woman are equal to the rights of men. My ambitions and my creativity is achieved. But the life of a woman engineer is not easy. Ability and job opportunities are not often in line with reality. I worked as an architect, has progressed, I was rewarded ...but I am currently unemployed and I want to say that I'm freelancer, but it is not a true definition of my profession and what I'm willing to give from me.

The situation in the world is difficult for all professionals, not especially for women engineers, but we should not ignore womens ability and expertise. Women who are  engineer are also wifes, mothers, family members who earn and provide a better future for the family. What is perhaps most important is to speak out and inspire all women in the world to believe in their potential as engineers, scientists,technologists and technical  leaders, to encourage education in engineering and to encourage companies to believe in gender diversity and inclusion of women in their projects.

When women get rid of their fears can achieve amazing things.

Happy National Women in Engineering Day and be proud of what you are!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Istanbul: between inert leisurely afternoon and future with the seed of the fruit of development

In recent articles I was writing about the strategies in sustainable architecture and urbanism. Meanwhile I was on a short trip to Istanbul. As much as we all known facts that make Istanbul an incredibly beautiful place for tourist experience, there are always things that admires you from scratch. For cultural and historical monuments in the Old European part of the city is written pretty much and not randomly with its geopolitical importance Istanbul is compared with Rome. But I will compare it with New York, the greatest dock of all times.

I experienced the city through several layers. First, as a picturesque place with mixed cultures. Then, as a crowd of life changes, just like a swarm of bees.  After, as a spacious space of built facilities which do not cease to be upgraded.  And most of all like mega polis that offers opportunities.

Istanbul is a really great city. I felt like there live people from all world. So different characters, different habits and so carelessly exchanged glances. In Istanbul you feel safe and welcome. People accept you as your own, want to help and communicate easily.

At certain places you are easily mingle in the crowd, but never lost. The move between market with spices and large covered market is places that still live under medieval Oriental manners. There walking is required, there are street markets, there you meet people, there is place where people talk, drink tea or coffee. Close encounters are selfless. There the citizens of Istanbul most heartily accept tourists, there Istanbul embraces you. It is the Oriental Manhattan way. At the same way, but a little bit more European is at the opposite site from Taksim Square to Galata Tower. Huge crowd and vivid spirit of life goes on. 

If as a tourist visit only the historic part of town, where it is easy to walk or use the tram, where at every corner skilled salesmen offer you something, you will think that Istanbul is typically close to the east spot with inert afternoon leisurely urban weaving.

But Istanbul is much more than the metropolis. It is spacious and densely populated city with a modern metro system, with ferries that are fast, frequent and timely, with and modern tramway system and numerous buses and taxi. In the city arrives also via rail, which is extended link inside the city traffic flow.  Over the Bosporus there are magnificent bridges linking Europe to Asia, and under the bridges dense marine traffic   from Sea of Marmara to Black Sea. Turkish engineers and planners obviously know the need for transport-oriented city development that will provide a sustainable future for the dynamic space of Istanbul.

On the other hand, it is a city that constantly builds and upgrades. Istanbul is a compact city, with its pattern and in its spirit.  So many buildings, streets, overpasses, tunnels, bypasses, shopping centers, mosques, parks, markets ... Every neighborhood in the city has its own life, has everything needed and every part is Istanbul. Here is experiencing the coherence of urban living as anywhere in the world. Neighborhoods, houses, transit zones, street food, street libraries, iPad and metro, sun at the beginning, rain at the end.

My short experience and encounter with Istanbul tells me that it is a city that still exist option for everyone. The hosts are still generously hospitable, hardworking and unfettered by prejudice. You feel safe and welcome. Istanbul is a city that develops and every good idea can plant the seed of the fruit to develop.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Shipping Container Homes as emergency shelters

After the terrible floods disaster that engulfed the Balkans ( my neighborhood) these days , I can not stay indifferent over the human tragedies that are occurring. Those kind of human tragedies from natural catastrophes are happening almost every day around the world. These days I think a lot about it and as an engineer looking for way to help and how to find care for the future for all those families who lost their homes . So I want to remind you of Cargo Container Architecture or also known as Shipping Container Architecture.

It is about architecture using steel intermodal containers (shipping containers) as structural element. These containers are extremely strong, durable and above all modular structural elements, and are found in a number of millions. They are designed to carry heavy loads, to be stacked in high columns, to resist harsh environments, such as on ocean-going vessels or sprayed with road salt while transported on roads. Due to their high strength, containers are useful for secure storage. They are made to standard measurements, provide modular elements that can be combined into larger structures and can be stacked up to 12 high when empty. And most importantly many used containers are available at an amount that is low compared to a finished structure built by other labor-intensive means such as bricks and mortar - which also require larger more expensive foundations. Construction involves very little labor and used shipping containers requiring only simple modification can be purchased from major transport companies for as little as US $ 1,200 each. Even when purchased brand new they are seldom more than US $ 6000th (http :/ / /)

For all of these characteristics Cargo Containers are particularly good as emergency shelters. There are countless numbers of empty, unused shipping containers around the world that just sitting on shipping docks taking up space because it's too expensive for a country to ship empty containers back to their origin. They just wait to become an emergency shelter. At the same time it is a green alternative and a smart choice for eco-consciousness.

Shipping Container Homes makes sense where resources are scarce, containers are in abundance, and where people are in need of immediate shelter such as, developing nations and disaster relief. Reusing containers seems to be a low energy alternative especially in cases when you need to re-design in large quantities as shelters and in that case re-design should make prefabricated, rapidly and in large quantities. The entire structure of the container needs to be sandblasted bare, floors need to be replaced and openings need to be cut, and at the end produces hazardous waste before it can be used as a structure which contribute significantly to its ecological footprint. 

And despite all Shipping Container Homes are great solutions. These containers would allow many people to reclaim their land.  People can get back into their land, even if there no longer have a habitable house to live in, the communities can be rebuilding together and made a stronger bond among the people who lived there, and who will live there again. 

Groups like Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ( ) and similar emergency response agencies in other countries can coordinate the supply of shipping containers, so that they will be available when needed. The components you need in houses can be added to containers before they are shipped out. Then the container is ready to be transported to the area of need, and it's ready to be used as housing, without expensive on-site work. Most containers are utilized in similar ways as they are modified, and this construction process is very economical. In particular, they have been used with success in Haiti, where many people still do not have permanent structures to call home.

Many architects, scientists, institutes dealing with research in this area. For me, important information from the survey were in the research of Worcester Polytechnic Institute “Shipping Container Emergency Shelters” by Mark Brodaski, Ralph Campanelli and Kevin Zabinski  (

In the end all we have to do our best in some way to help and support the victims  and  to ensure that we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Towards Sustainable Architecture: Transport oriented development

Today's urban structure in the world is such that in rare cases is possible implementation of one model of town . The model of transport-oriented development in focal points gives a kind of sublimation . Modern cities are economic agglomerations with continuous transport . The development of transport facilitates decentralization and migration boosts concentration . Always between these two extremes there are centers and transit zones which are always those who are planning , economic and social uncontrolled. Sustainability implies their integration with the availability of services, utilities, local government, social control and community involvement.

People have the right to choose where to live. There will always be people who will choose to live in a compact city and those who will choose to live in suburban areas. But many people will opt to live in areas that are centers of transit. New urban development enables the creation of such centers. The reason is that it will come to the dislocation of social activity outside the urban core, but still in the area that represents the transit zone. Thus around the city core area which is ideal for business and administration will create a circular layer that will balance and creates a new kind of social scheme. Since the 1980s in many European cities began to populate new residents and it usually grouped ethnically. Their arrival in the cities and settlements is directly related to previously newcomers residents who usually live outside city cores and moving into a transit zone. These residential areas are simply inserted between the centers and settlements. Such is the case in London where there are new residential zones between Brixton and Kreid and settlements Streatham and Norbury. Such transit zones and their settlement can concentrate social problems: crime, poverty, drug abuse and social unrest, similar to what a ghetto in the world's great metropolises . Beside, these transit zones are places where have to go in and out of the city, people , goods and infrastructure relating to suburban areas . These roads are important artery connecting the city with suburban environment and need to be controlled . Especially is important place for living and the availability of necessary services such as schools, shops , etc... Their unavailability increases the need to travel by car. If these services are local , then they are unobtrusive and affordable for the community and to them can come with a pedestrian movement. The availability affect of different modes of traffic behavior. The best effect is achieved by combining activities . Some may occur locally , and for some is necessary travel with a motor vehicle . Both groups of residents and those who live in downtown and suburban areas and those occupied in transit zones are naturally set of each population located in its zone . It is normal to talk about ekvilibrium , and it means the social control and forcing the group to join the lifestyle of the other.

Of Sustainability and Transport integrated Urban Planning

The model of sustainable transport takes the dimension of city transport as the basis for integrated planning. Transport infrastructure should be planned in the context of regional networks provided by modern transport technologies. It means acceptance of green technologies and vehicles that are energy efficient, clean and affordable. At the same time, mobility should mean connection to all parts of the cities, especially when it comes to public transportation. This model also suggests a measurement design in human measures, specifically suggests the use of alternative types of transportation: bicycle and walking. Socially is difficult acceptable to reduce greatly car traffic. So first, has to change public opinion, before be introduced through legal measures by the government. It takes the input of new infrastructure in the city that will refer to collective transport. Therefore most acceptable are underground structures that are expensive as an initial investment. Experts believe that the introduction of the subway and railways are an important factor for improving the collectivization of transport; about private automobiles, significant progress will be achieved if are set electric cars (hybrids, electric vehicles, etc...).

Transport determines the relationship between the size of the settlement and traffic behavior. There is growing use of traffic (due to suburbanization) in areas where the population is shrinking, while the increase in population (centralization) is strongly promoting public transport. Sustainable transport can therefore be viewed in two ways: by reducing travel or limiting the impact of the increased traffic flow by developing the capacity of the streets, the combined use of transport vehicles, change the transport modules and finally technological change in transport equipment. Planners have the task to establish effective transportation in traditional urban forms. Transport infrastructure must be planned in the context of regional and national networks.
Detailed analysis highlight the differences between urban size and travel for work and when not working. Traffic for coming to work in the rapidly growing areas reduces the number of population. This suggests that relatively small cities can provide satisfying certain needs and services, but only major centers in major cities provide various job opportunities. To reduce the use of vehicles and reduce the need for long journey can be made of peripheral relocating of various businesses. Finally the fundamental question is whether the policy should be conducted in terms of reducing travel or to limit the consequences it causes.

Sustainable transport is supported by a number of Western countries. In Britain began a trend of increasing public transport which provides energy efficiency to obtain certain privileges. City bus traffic in cities in the UK was privatized and it has a huge impact on the traffic flow. In this sense the profitability of a particular bus depends on the number of passengers. Increase in passengers and users of public transport go along with certain qualities. This includes the time needed to wait, time travel which directly depends on the length of the destination.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Models and opportunities for sustainable urban development - Compact City

The possibilities for developing are specific for each city and have to be established in terms of the context and the region.  Urban sprawl is usually followed by functional specialization of certain areas of shopping centers, recreational zone, zone for housing, industrial and craft parts that drastically reduces the ecological capital of small and large cities. Urban development should be conducted in cooperation with the public and community, social priorities, the establishment of urban form and care for the local environment. Measures of urbanization should be reoriented thus create maximum effects with minimal use of resources.

Coherence and compact city. Cities should be coherent and compact (inclusive towns) with the aim urban area to become simpler, affordable and stimulating for their citizens, regardless of their social status, age and health condition.  Focus is on inclusiveness in urban centers that act as machines that need to pull the economy forward.
The idea of a compact city (centralization) originate from Europe, particularly first theory is mentioned in the Commission of the European Communities in 1990 as a mixture of various socially sustainable features that will concentrate future development. It should significantly reduce the need for motor traffic that in turn will gradually reduce the emission of harmful gases into the air.  This idea promotes the use of public transport, walking and bicycle use. The compact city model answers on the relationship between the density and intensity of development. Compact cities are characterized by medium and high density built environment with mixed functional and public open spaces, with certain limits of growth and planning in accordance with the protection of natural resources outside of urban areas. The compact city is homogeneous phenomenon. Creating a compact city includes intensification of built parts and intensification is a dynamic process.
The compact city should be developed around the centers of commercial and social activity that is desirable to gravitate towards public transport. Thus developed focal points with owns public space and parks with greenery. The compact city concept is found today mostly in Europe, America and Japan, as in other industrialized countries and in developing countries in Asia.

Plan of London 2004: a compact city - adequate space. Plan of London from 2004 is the first example in England of a new type of regional plan that promotes London as a sustainable city. Spatial London faces with changes in terms of housing population and increasing of employment. That would mean an increase by 10 % by 2016 to occur with the new development in the existing city limits without expanding the environment. London will become more compact and will develop intensively.

London is one of the three financial centers in the world. Especially it is suitable for international migration which up to 100 000 per year. According to current estimates the population in London is expected to grow to 8.2 million people by 2021. London Plan contains 28 areas planned for sustainable development which is mostly located in the northeastern and southeastern sub region city. The eastern part of the city is a priority area for development by providing 850 000 new jobs by 2026 people who would be nested in areas off Isle Dogs and Stratford City. New bridges over the Thames are envisaged for transport. Notable are the development plans relating to spatial changes for the Olympic Games that had been held in London in 2012. The plan was criticized for being too centralized and requires more polycentric development outside central London and improving the surrounding transport links, which will allow promotion of new local jobs. London suburban areas occupy 2/3 of the total area of London and are essentially dependent on the transport car. The plan offers development of that suburban areas, particularly by improving the transport system and intensify the potential to the housing and employment in other areas .

Asian compact cities. Asian cities are basically with high-density built up, with use of small vehicles and high use of public transport. It is made a comparison of the nine most important Asian cities which are at different levels of development: Surabaya, Jakarta and Manila which in 1990 were low - developed cities, than Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul were well developed and at the end - Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo were highly developed cities. Just Kuala Lumpur between all these cities has an average density of development and population similar to European cities. It is characteristic that in Asian cities with high population density occur fewer vehicles per capita. The best example for that is Hong Kong where public transport covered 82 % of the total motorized movement in the city in 1990 and only due to the high population density. Large population density allows some distance by passing with pedestrian movement without ever having used motor traffic of any kind. High density of population is the reason why Asian cities have high density of built up and small length of roads and fewer vehicles. In such circumstances, it is logical traffic capacity is less per capita unlike cities and regions with low population density. Some Asian cities have well- organized fast roads. In 1990 Hong Kong had a 4.4 m fast road of 1 hectare of urbanized land, Kuala Lumpur 2.6m in 1985 and already 4.1m in 1997, Seoul in 1995 has 3.1m per hectare and Singapore in 1990 has 3.3m per hectare.
Much of the residential neighborhoods in Asian cities are planned and designed for housing, but without mass use of cars and thus imposes public transport. The high level of use of cars is unacceptable for urban high population density. Therefore in Asian countries is a popular movement with bicycles and mopeds.