Bulgaria has a long history of more than 13 centuries. It is believed that the country commenced from the lands of Shumen, owing to the adjacent location of the first two Bulgarian capitals. Over the centuries, the town has been an important cultural, political and military center. Today, located in the North-Eastern Bulgaria, Shumen is the tenth largest town in the country, the economic capital of Shumen Province and an important administrative and cultural center. It is very rich in cultural heritage which covers many historic periods and offers a variety for tourism and exploration.
Nevertheless, there are a number of socio-economic and urban issues in the town. The economy is affected by the decline in population and rise in emigration among young people. The overall urban environment is unmaintained. Also, despite the diverse cultural and historic heritage, Shumen is not a renowned tourist destination.
The past of Shumen is associated with the Revival Street – an area with a great historic value which has the highest concentration of built heritage and where many important events took place not only for the town, but also for the country. It used to be ‘a street with a soul’. Situated in the west of the central pedestrian street, today, unfortunately, the area is in a run-down and neglected state and many listed buildings are in bad condition, empty, slowly and dangerously collapsing.
The intention of this project is to reimagine Shumen and its unmaintained townscape by starting with the regeneration of the forgotten historic part of the town centre – the Revival Street and its surroundings. As the town centre is the public core of Shumen, the revival of the area will support the development of the local community, economy and urban environment. Thus, the preservation and reuse of the historic buildings and the recovery of the area’s once vibrant public life are significant for improving the residential, commercial and tourist attractiveness of the town.
In the midst of the area, a massive concrete tower rises above the townscape. Being part of an abandoned ensemble of buildings, it is a large-scale project from the communist period in Bulgaria. However, due to an unexpected change of power in 1989, the construction of the buildings was abandoned and they were never completed. Today, more than 30 years later, the derelict structures stand as a reminder of the past. Considered the largest abandoned monument from the communist times, it was to become a cultural precinct for the town. Hence, this thesis project also aims to finish what was once started and propose a design that would resolve the problematic aspects currently confronting the town in order to cater to the present-day needs of the citizens of Shumen.