Garden city designed to reflect on Sofia's heritage and future
When Archronica Architects engaged Saucier and Flynn, Landscape Architects as a collaborating partner to design a two million sq ft mixed use community on the outskirts of Sofia, Bulgaria, the design firms reached a polemic urban design understanding as a basis to investigate the client’s interest in developing a gated suburban community.
The idea of the Garden City is not new. Ebenezer Howard, Le Corbusier and others articulated the subject. The ideal of living in the country and escaping the unhealthy city has guided most of their ideas. However, the architects of the Bistritsa Hills believe the outcomes of their thesis were romantic and not well-rooted in reality. Many of the realised Garden Cities became heavily reliant on the automobile, failed to build communities and sent available agricultural land and contiguous open space into the endangered species category. With the accumulative knowledge today of global warming, unsustainable consumption of natural resources and urban sprawl, the architects concluded the idea of the Garden City needed a thorough re-examination.
The architectural design for Bistritsa Hills advances the notion of 'the house in the pastor' emphasising an agrarian ideal. The architectural typology thus sees the house design as integral part to the pastor, the garden, and is defined by and knitted into its garden walls and the layers of the agrarian landscape. Gesturing new attitude toward the landscape, the formal entrances of the dwellings were positioned toward the pedestrian network to reestablish and emphasize a timeless intimate relationship to the pedestrian network, the land and the subordination of the automobile. The celebration of the garden is emphasized by identifying the layers of the landscape and composing them into a progression and procession from the natural to the built. This celebration of the rural landscape, although idealized, realistically recognizes and accommodates a time and lifestyle that is in harmony with it.