Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

This site uses cookies. By using our services, you agree to our cookie use.
Learn more here.

Competition: Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Veliko Tarnovo Municipality has launched a competition to redevelop its historic military school in north central Bulgaria (Deadline: 20 July)

Open to international teams with qualified architects, the anonymous single-stage competition seeks innovative proposals to transform the disused complex into a hub for cultural and business tourism.

The project aims to repurpose the 189,000m² site as an urban centre for the historic settlement, which was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire and features many unique architectural landmarks. Proposals must include a phased site masterplan and concept design for a 5,500m² exposition hall.

Contest site in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Contest site in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Contest site in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

According to the brief: ‘The increasing regional and national significance of the city of Veliko Tarnovo as an administrative, cultural, tourist, educational and commercial centre, as well as its growing population in the recent years, necessitate the establishment of an urban space concentrating buildings and open space facilities, which provide conditions for cultural, scientific, trade, political and other events.

‘At present the city of Veliko Tarnovo does not have a distinctive centre, there are two central areas, formed during different historical periods. The existing central areas are not capable of providing space for public activities and events, that are proportionate to the scale of development of the city, because their capacity is insufficient or because that is in contradiction with their spirit and functions. In this context, it is necessary to develop a new urban centre, which will function in a dynamic harmony and interaction with the other two centres.’

Veliko Tarnovo – known locally as the City of Tsars – is located on a series of dramatic hills overlooking the Yantra River. It features two historic and modern centres but lacks an overall urban centre with space to accommodate large cultural, scientific, commercial and political events.

The old military school has been a derelict site for many decades with parts of the complex recently used for deep excavations to create urban water and sanitation networks. The competition aims to transform the area into a new urban centre for Veliko Tarnovo.

Proposals should include new streets and pathways, car parking, a conference centre, hotels, administrative facilities, educational buildings, new housing, retail and sports facilities.

The competition languages are English and Bulgarian. The overall winner will receive a €25,000 prize while there is also a second prize of €15,000 and third prize of €10,000.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is 20 July

Contact details


Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Daniel Panov

The mayor of Veliko Turnovo Municipality discusses his ambitions for the contest

Daniel Panov

Daniel Panov

Daniel Panov

Why are your holding an open international competition for a new urban centre in Veliko Tarnovo?

The project for a new urban centre in Veliko Tarnovo is one of the largest in terms of town planning in Bulgaria. In order to be fully up-to-date with modern trends, innovations and solutions, together with my team of architects and spatial planning experts, we decided to hold an international architectural competition. This open procedure is for both - the concept of the new urban centre and the design of an exposition centre. The construction of this important building in Veliko Tarnovo and for the social life in Veliko Tarnovo will be a start in the realisation of a project that has been discussed for several decades.

I think that such a competition is the best solution for Veliko Tarnovo because it will give us the opportunity to choose modern urban solutions, combined with the latest innovations in the sphere of architecture and town planning. I am sure that the competent jury of architects from seven countries will choose the best concept. Its realization will give the appearance of the Old Bulgarian Capital for decades to come.

What is your vision for how the old military school site will be transformed?

My vision is the new urban centre of Veliko Tarnovo to be a space where there will be a large pedestrian zone and many green areas, part of the infrastructure to be underground – streets and parking lots. A new library, new museums and tourist attractions to be built, and of course the Exposition centre for concerts, public events, exhibitions, etc.

Innovation, sustainable and quality solutions in the architecture and construction presented by the candidates are a very important part of the final assessments that their concepts will receive.

Contest site in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Contest site in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Contest site in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

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

The contest is open to individual candidates - graduate architects, as well as to design teams with at least one graduate architect. The competition gives an opportunity to everyone, including the so-called undisclosed talents. Through this race, they can really become well known and their concepts could be a boost in their career. In addition to popularity, the winner will be given the opportunity to participate in the project implementation.

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

Participation in this competition will allow architects from all over the world to get acquainted with Veliko Tarnovo, with the unique architecture, geographic location and even the relief of the city. As I said, with this competition we are looking for the best concept for a new urban centre and a project for an exposition centre. With this building, we will start the realization of this large-scale project for Bulgaria and for Europe. We anticipate phased construction of infrastructure, buildings and public facilities so that each of these architects will be able to participate in their design.

Are there any other similar urban regeneration projects you have been impressed by?

The project for a new urban centre is the first of its kind in Bulgaria. With its realisation, we want the central city district to have an even stronger European outlook. The new urban centre should provide a smooth and natural transition between the historic Old Town district of Veliko Tarnovo with monuments from the Middle Ages and architecture from the Renaissance and the ‘New’ city. We took advantage of the experience from Varna City – an international competition for the construction of a new library was announced in the sea capital of Bulgaria.

Contest site in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Contest site in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Contest site in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.