Milena Metalkova-Markova: Bulgarian Vernacular Architecture in Transition

Marvin Breckenridge Patterson Lecture
October 18, 2017 - 5:30 PM
ARC 0204

Milena Metalkova-Markova

Associate Professor, Department of History and Theory of Architecture

University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy

Sofia, Bulgaria


Bulgarian Vernacular Architecture in Transition – Preserving as an Archeology of Memory and a Landscape of Learning


2017 Marvin Breckinridge Patterson Lecture


Milena Metalkova-Markova’s lecture will make a short outline of vernacular architecture in Bulgaria, noting its historic origins, development and main regional variations. Some spatial features of vernacular residential architecture and urban tissue of settlements from the second half of the 19th to early 20th centuries will be described as they represent the majority of all remaining structures nowadays.


Bulgarian vernacular architecture had several periods of crisis and revival during the 20th century related to the socialist period; the political and cultural specifics and main trends regarding its preservation will be outlined. After the 1980s, the collapse of the socialist regime and the growing popularity of the sustainable environmental design agenda brought new trends in the preservation approach to vernacular dwellings. Instead of focusing on the preservation of the physical shape of exterior silhouettes and urban ensembles, preservation is focusing on indigenous building materials, authentic techniques and transmission of knowledge and skills, referring to a holistic lifestyle which used to fit aptly within an all encompassing man/nature ecosystem.


Considering the process of building as a way of thinking and living (Heidegger), the important topics for architecture in the 21st century (Yuhani Pallasmaa), bricolage method, and the role of quasi-objects within the space between art and architecture, some projects at the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Sofia, Bulgaria, will be described as an attempt at the “learning by doing” type of preservation as an archeology of memory and a landscape of learning.