Masterplan New Urban Centre

Program: multifunctional 

Total NUC area: 18,9 Ha

Total built area: 146274 m2

Exposition center

Program: cultural building with 6 events/exhibition halls, flexible to be combines into one auditorium of 1200 seats.

Land plot area: 5,502 m2;

Total Floor  Area: 9674 m2 (excluding underground parking);

budget: N/A

Client: Municipality of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Location: Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Design: 2018


The proposal for the new city center of Veliko Tarnovo finds its foundations on a balanced density, proportioned to the existing city center. By analyzing the center of the city and the surrounding districts, Veliko presents the urban fabric of a medium size town, which does have the ambition to find a role in the national and international market but that preserves its authenticity in a powerful relationship with nature and history. 

The new city center, rather than aiming at a metropolitan scale, follows density and scale of the existing center, with some picks of modernity added through contemporary architecture and few landmarks. The multi-functionality proposed in every portion of the masterplan is achieved by mixing uses within every building block, as well as carefully curating a system of public spaces that will allow a 24/7 frequentation of the center. 

The plan is based on the application of sustainable forms of energy, smart mobility, resources saving and circular economy. Veliko will be too a pioneer city in fighting climate change, preserving the environment for its own community. 


The masterplan is characterized by an homogeneous mixed use distribution, with a vast use of vertical mixed functions. This strategy wills to facilitate the human frequentation of the public space all the time, fighting periodic building vacancy. It increases the participation of private and public stakeholders in the development of the different blocks.

The districts are designed with a functional predominance, from north to south, from administrative-commercial to residential-commercial, till the southern cluster dedicated to the hotel-wellness center. The residential stock is distributed in every district, adapting typologies: in the north, lofts and apartments will fit the work-commercial environment. In the south terrace-apartments and family houses will define a living district with a more domestic character. The abundance of green-permeable areas improves the bio-climatic performance of the masterplan and facilitates rain water collection and discharge. The use of water collectors and wind corridors contributes to fight the Urban Heat Island effect.


When comparing the maximal density allowed by the brief (FAR 3) and the maximal m2 allowed, with the requested built up area, we believe that such a density would not be appropriate for a city like Veliko. Aware of the needs for new services and functions to support the whole city, we propose a FAR of 1.9, giving maximal precedence to residential and productive functions. We believe that a city, to be sustainable on the long term, needs primarily enough residents, who will guarantee its economic growth and stable wealth. This is why we propose to realize the maximal residential and administrative program, rebalancing the other functions to achieve a lower density. 


Beside preserving the existing buffer green along the river, we propose to create a network of green and open spaces that crosses the whole masterplan and that allows every district to benefit of a constant relationship with nature. The connection with the surrounding green system (including the Marno Pole) is granted by boulevards, alleys, gardens and parks. The almost 70% of permeable surface is achieved by the extensive use of green roofs, that together with the public green will grant optimal climatic conditions throughout the year. Sun energy and rain water storages will contribute to enhance the sustainable performance of the district. 


The masterplan provides enough underground parking areas to cover the need for local workers, tourists and residents. This is achieved by splitting the parking system on a peripheral network that will work as transfer hub, forcing everybody (including residents) to leave their car before accessing the very core of the masterplan. This leaves the vehicles traffic within the central area only reserved to logistics and emergency, making the heart of the city center focused on pedestrians and bicycles. We envisage a system that can easily absorb the future innovations in the fields of sustainable urban mobility. 



The development is articulated is such a way that every phase of realization can offer functions and interventions useful to activate the area since the beginning. This means that every phase offers a mix of functions that wills to make each realized portion autonomous from the rest of the masterplan. Given the fact that the functional distribution in the proposal is quite homogeneous, the masterplan will never suffer mono-functionality, thus allowing the frequentation of the realized public spaces at all times. The administrative district (including its residential stock) will start up the process, favoring the private-public participation. Similarly, every phase is inclusive of green and public space portions, as well as commercial and leisure activities.


The area designated for the Expo Centre is very limited, making necessary to compose the building as a compact and efficient machine. The terrain slope between south and north side of the plot, requires attention on how to solve technically and functionally the site depression. For this reason we imagine a centric system in which the main hall becomes the starting point of the Floor plan. 

The T shaped halls host spaces for different performances and events: a cinema, a black box/podium, a theatre with possible orchestra pit, an auditorium and 2 exhibition halls. All these spaces can benefit of the site height difference, being supported by a lower efficient system of logistic and parking areas. In fact, the lower levels provide a dedicated logistic entrance from east, the access to the basement of the podium/stage, as well as all support and technical spaces below the theatres, making the centralized position of the podium accessible from every side. A system of sliding walls allows the partial or unified use of the spaces, transforming the center into a forum capable to host up to a maximum of 1725 seats (when even exhibition halls are integrated to the auditoria), 1220 seats with the three auditoria united, as well as 6 separate rooms. The center can thus host concerts, musicals, theatre pieces, cinema, music events, fashion catwalks, commercial fairs. The terrain slope allows to concentrate 3 underground parking levels with a total 210 parking places only within the building boundary. For this reason we free the north side of the building from additional parking use, maximizing the green surface and giving back this public space to the adjacent north district.


The west side of the building, facing the VTU, hosts the main lobby, perfect arrival from the city as well as the from NUC. The south side offers an additional public entrance under the cinema hall, making it suitable to welcome the visitors if the central hall would be used as exhibition space or temporarily closed. This entrance reconnects to the main hall, which is split on two levels.

The roof of the hall hosts a semi covered square and an auditorium suitable for open air events during spring and summer. At the north side, a volume separates this space from the city center, defining a urban living room. The north volume hosts café-restaurant, as well as administration, rehearsal rooms and a roof exhibition/lounge, which offers a spectacular view towards the historical center of Veliko. The truss roof structure is used as lighting and sound system for the open air events, duplicating the capacity of the lower covered hall, while defining an iconic hollow space, visible from the city center, establishing a dialog with the rest of the urban fabric.