Joint winners in Sofia Metro Competition
UK-based Amin Taha Architects’ (ATA) joint-winning narrative follows a journey to the underworld through an informal Romantic Landscape tradition, bringing the flora of the surrounding mountains into the city with a second wider ambition to link its green and open spaces. Creating a city-wide linear park with themed differentiating identities for coherent mental mapping and urban navigation that is integral to the transport system as well as an opportunity for urban generation. ATA took joint first place with a team led by Bulgarian architect Aleksandar Shinolov.
Of its successful design, ATA explains: “7,000 years of global cultural history has mythologised the journey to and from the underworld signifying the path from curiosity through knowledge to wisdom with the loss of innocence as an accompanying narrative. The influence on architecture and landscape design reached a height in the classical period in Hadrian’s Villa, predating the English Romantic Landscape Movement by bringing ‘Nature’ into the site. ‘Nature’ is controlled through a series of transitional moments, experiences using architecture through cut stone to form ‘rocks’ or rusticated grottos and colonnaded halls.”
This concept draws a meandering journey through the linear park along which adjacent buildings and public spaces offer temptation to stop, socialise and digress. Two tectonic portals signal the metro and underworld with the architectural language and material texture of fissured and carved out space emphasised with shafts of natural light to ticket halls and platforms.
Traversing this line above ground is the rational Baroque Landscape tradition of control and order, of ground-scape, material, gridded trees, canopies and colour. This formalisation establishes a harpsichord rhythm and tone, opening up for cafe terraces and public spaces. The bus stops act as lynch-pins, linking the formal landscape and the metro entrance.
Formal Baroque areas are specified with robust and traditional Sofia bush hammered granite pavements, forming a footpath against adjacent building sites. The granite sets are pulled as strings to the road kerb edge to maintain the compacted sand areas that make up 50% of these areas under the canopy of Acers and Cherry Trees. Informal Romantic areas are low or self- maintaining shrubs and grasses set into rockeries surrounding the root-balls of semi-mature pines placed as if in-situ.