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Competition: Borovets resort, Bulgaria

A contest is being held to design a landmark 60 million BGN mixed-use development at the Borovets ski and mountain resort in Bulgaria (Deadline: 10 January)

The anonymous single-stage competition seeks ‘attractive, innovative and sustainable’ proposals for a commercial, recreational and leisure hub at the centre of the popular holiday destination, 70km from the capital Sofia.

The 22,019m² project will transform a prominent plot known as the Golden Triangle, situated next to the finish line of the ski runs, the chairlift and some of the resort’s most important hotel complexes. The busy 2.3ha site is currently occupied by a large number of improvised restaurants, cafés, bars, shops and stalls along with many coniferous trees.

Borovets resort, Bulgaria

Borovets resort, Bulgaria

Source: Image by Nikolai Karaneschev

Borovets resort, Bulgaria

Samokov Municipality which is backing the competition, says it wants to develop Borovets ‘as an innovative, sustainable and attractive European leader in year-round family mountain tourism and sports, as well as its popularisation on a regional and international scale. The aim is to establish Borovets as a green resort, aimed at an increasing number of visitors – nature and mountains enthusiasts as well as lovers of extreme activities such as mountain running, climbing, cycling and freestyle in the summer, free ride in winter.

‘The main objective of the competition is to collect a wide range of high-level conceptual designs for the spatial development and the architectural appearance of the territory, from which to select a project, suitable for the Municipality Vision for the resort’s development, realised in stages.’

The municipality hopes that the successful project will contribute to a better understanding of the local culture, sports and nature by providing a higher quality of life to both visitors and local residents.

Borovets resort, Bulgaria

Borovets resort, Bulgaria

Borovets resort, Bulgaria

Borovets was founded in 1896 as a hunting place for Bulgarian kings and is the country’s oldest ski and mountain sports resort. The popular year-round holiday destination is located in the Samokov valley at the foot of the Rila, Verila, Vitosha and Plana mountains.

The latest project will upgrade the resort’s Golden Triangle area by delivering a new high-quality development featuring retail, restaurants, cafés, a health centre, multifunctional hall, public square, offices, studio apartments, a tourism hub, cultural facilities and an education area. Landscaping proposals will also be required.

The free-to-enter competition is supported by the Chamber of Architects in Bulgaria, the Union of Architects in Bulgaria and the Union of Urbanists in Bulgaria. The official contest language is Bulgarian but submissions may feature both English and Bulgarian.

Judges include Marius Mowe, co-founder of Norway’s Oslo Atelier; Vanya Serafimova, managing partner at Atelier Serafimov Architects; and Nadejda Klincheva-Koleva, chief architect at the Municipality of Samokov.

The overall winner will receive around 20,000 BGN (Bulgarian lev) and the design commission. A second prize of 12,000 BGN and third prize of 8,000 BGN will also be awarded along with two further prizes worth 5,000 BGN each.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is 5.30pm local time (GMT+2) on 10 January

Contact details

Nadezhda Klincheva
Chief Architect
Samokov Municipality
34 Macedonia
2000 Samokov


Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Nadejda Klincheva-Koleva

The chief architect of the Municipality of Samokov discusses her ambitions for the contest

Nadejda Klincheva-Koleva

Nadejda Klincheva-Koleva

Nadejda Klincheva-Koleva

Why are your holding a competition for a new landmark building at Borovets?

Ever since its foundation, Borovets has always been a world-class ski resort; in 2016 we celebrated 120 years since its establishment. Unfortunately, it has never had a clear and consistent vision for the development of its public spaces. The result is visible today: there are too many different styles and chaotic volumes with predominantly identical commercial functions.

There is clearly an urgent need for the central area (the so called ‘Golden triangle’) to be redesigned in a contemporary way in both functions and design. The new aesthetics of the development, the number and type of buildings, their volume and functional characteristics could be decided on in the best way by an architectural competition. We hope this will help us select the best vision for the development of what is undoubtedly the resort’s most attractive and visited public area.

Borovets resort, Bulgaria

Borovets resort, Bulgaria

Borovets resort, Bulgaria

What is your vision for the new structure?

Conducting a competition for a new vision of the ‘Golden Triangle’ is of strategic importance for the development of the resort and the region. It allows for a decisive step of the resort towards a modern, functional and green vision. We have deliberately submitted relatively general guidelines for our requirements in order to provide freedom of work and opportunity for suggestions outside of our own ideas.

We are striving for innovation, modern efficiency and functionality of the territory without compromising on quality. The high competitiveness in tourism obliges us to be responsible for everything we plan and requires from us to see quality and efficiency as mandatory conditions of work.

Sustainability is a key feature of our vision for the resort, both as energy efficiency and construction materials, and as a successful long-term operation. The project will be developed in a realistic and gradual way, with care for the environment. Its philosophy will subsequently expand and cover a wider territory of the resort.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

The Municipality of Samokov would be just as happy to welcome famous and experienced architectural bureaus as to attract young design teams ready to offer innovative and bold mountain resort projects. The best design solutions will be presented in various forums and meetings in Bulgaria and abroad.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

There is a co-operative market just in the heart of Samokov, which has not been reconstructed since its foundation and needs to be redesigned to meet the needs of our citizens and guests. We intend to organise another contest for a conceptual design for a building, but this time the functional characteristics will be strictly regulated.

Are there any other innovative ski resort projects you have been impressed by?

Any innovative resort is an example we would follow. However what we want to do with this competition is also to set an example. Borovets is aiming for a moderate use of the territory, well-chosen location of the buildings and a balanced functionality. The use of natural materials, warm colours, lack of kitsch will give the natural appeal we are striving for. Last but not least, we are trying to provide tourist services outside of winter sports during the cold months and mountain walks in the summer.

Q&A with Boyka Ognyanova

The co-founder of contest organiser discusses future design opportunities in the country

Boyka Ognyanova

Boyka Ognyanova

Boyka Ognyanova

Are there other architectural competitions in Bulgaria and what can potential international participants expect?

Architectural competitions in Bulgaria are definitely on the rise, although there are still not too many. The current competition is the fifth major international open competition since the democratic changes in 1989 – the first one, for the Metrostation 20 in our capital Sofia, was held only recently in 2011. Today, both the state and the municipal administration are beginning to appreciate the benefits of competitions, especially when it comes to tourist sites and resorts. An example of this is another upcoming contest, which we are organising: for the hotel of the Ethnographic Open-air Museum Etar in Gabrovo, which will be a rather interior one. This competition is also open for participants outside of Bulgaria, as long as they translate their documentation into Bulgarian.

Expect more competitions from Bulgaria!


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