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Competition: Varna Seaside Park pavilions, Bulgaria

Devnya Cement has launched an international design competition for a series of seaside retail pavilions in Varna, Bulgaria (Deadline: 4 August)

Organised by the Varna Design Forum and open to all students and professionals under 35 years old, the contest seeks proposals for new modular structures overlooking the Black Sea.

Proposals for the kiosks within the city’s landmark Seaside Garden must be constructed from ‘Effix’ – a high-strength, non-structural cement pioneered by Devnya which is part of the Italcementi Group.



Varna Sea Garden

According to the brief: ‘The aim of the contest is to enrich the urban design of Varna through the realisation of a contemporary and inspiring concept for a trading pavilion constructed with the innovative materials of Italcementi Group.’

‘Participants are expected to create an up-to-date and inspiring image in harmony with the Seaside Garden’s scenery and context. The expectations are that the new trade pavilion will turn into a unique and recognisable symbol of Varna and its Seaside Garden.’

Created by Varna’s Ottoman mayor in 1862 and expanded by French engineer Martinice 20 years later, the Seaside Garden is the largest landscaped park in the Balkans and a popular tourist destination.

Located on the sandy shores of the Black Sea, the park is a vital green space for the city’s 335,000 residents and a national monument featuring historic sites such as Varna’s Naval Museum and the Alley of Cosmonauts.



Competition site

Proposals may occupy any part of the park but must harness CNC manufacturing processes, consider weathering effects and seasonal changes, and also incorporate daytime shading and a lighting scheme.

Pavilion concepts should be modular and capable of scaling up in size. The structure may be used for selling light refreshments and various small non-food items.

Customer seating, photovoltaic panels, branding and advertising may also be included.

Digital submissions may include one 100 x 70cm display board featuring plans, elevations, an explanatory text and 3D visualisations.

The judging panel includes three external judges alongside representatives from the Varna Design Forum and Italcementi Group.

The winning team will receive 3,000 BGN ($1,697) and be invited to fabricate their concept at Italcementi’s Richard Meier-designed Research and Innovation Centre in Bergamo, Italy. A second place prize of 1,000 BGN will also be awarded.

A full-size prototype of the winning structured will be presented to Varna’s local government for approval ahead of serial manufacturing for sites across the park.

The competition is open to teams or individuals and the official languages are English and Bulgarian.

How to apply


Submissions must be completed 8pm Bulgarian time (GMT + 3) on 4 August

Contact details


Visit the competition website for more information

Make Kiosks case study: Q&A with Sean Affleck

The project architect at Make discusses lessons learned designing a retail kiosk for the Canary Wharf business district in London

How did your Make Kiosk project respond to its context and users’ requirements?

Canary Wharf Group asked us to design two retail kiosks in for Wood Wharf, a landscaped waterside location within the Canary Wharf estate. They had to be durable, easy to maintain, and vandalism-proof. Their style had to complement the 65 pieces of bold, bright, contemporary public art on site.

Inspired by origami, we created a striking geometric design that’s stylish and resilient. To function as both a sculptural piece and practical space, we wanted the kiosk to be intriguing and interesting from all directions, whether open or closed. So we designed it to be a strong form with depth and shadow, making it an alluring, abstract piece when closed. When open, it is dynamic and inviting, with vibrant red internal surfaces and a natural canopy announcing it’s open for business. The internal fit-out elements can be easily adapted to suit the needs of individual vendors, and the kiosk is completely secure when closed.



Make Kiosk in Canary Wharf

Plywood-stressed skin and waterproof membranes stretch across steel frames, with vandal-resistant insulating rain-skin cladding panels reduce solar gain. Opening the kiosks is easy, and an event in itself: at the push of a button, an electric winch releases the stainless steel counterweights that pull up the steel panels, concertina-style, revealing an adaptable space within. The fail-safe mechanism prevents the possibility of the folding metal opening or closing unexpectedly.

The lightweight, portable kiosks were delivered pre-assembled, and installed without fuss or foundations.

What considerations are important when designing a kiosk in a waterfront public setting?

Waterfront settings present an aggressive, corrosive environment, and considerable wind loads, so structure and material must be considered accordingly. Careful thought must also be given to services – where will your water come from? Where does drainage go? Where will you get your power?

As with any structure, a waterfront kiosk should be designed to engage with the people using it, drawing in customers and offering them shelter, as well as providing a safe and functional work space for the vendors.



Make Kiosk in Canary Wharf

How would you set about redesigning a seaside kiosk which responds to Varna’s unique context?

Although a kiosk is a relatively small structure, there’s lots to consider before you start designing. Responding to the site and local context – ie existing architecture, landscaping, history, local culture – can be done in a number of different ways, whether that’s through form, materials, textures or colours.

Varna’s Sea Garden is one of the city’s most important local attractions – both for residents and tourists. At 85 hectares, it runs along the city’s coast line on the Black Sea. It’s got classical landscaping by Czech gardener Anton Novak starting in 1895, long alleys, several fountains, restaurants and sculptures – including the Soviet ‘Liberators’ monument. There’s the turn-of-the-century Varna Aquarium, the Soviet-era observatory and planetarium, and a central entrance marked by a large plaza and tall columns, designed in 1939 by Georgi Popov. There’s also an open-air theatre, the Varna Zoo, Natural History Museum and Naval Museum.

Plenty to think about, in other words.