Foster accused of "Biggest mistake" of his career

Niki May Young
Wednesday 16 Jul 2008

Foster's €1billion project in Bulgaria fraught by environmental critics

Twenty years of planning has been invested and €1 billion of capital is to be expended on Fosters + Partners’ Black Sea Gardens masterplan in Bulgaria, but protesters now say that it could be the “biggest mistake of (Foster’s) career”.

The 219 hectare development on the Black Sea Coast is Foster +Partners’ first Bulgarian project and is set to be carbon neutral. The design shows five separate villages, which will house 15,400 people, interspersed with landscaped areas, man-made lakes and a marina. Despite Foster + Partners creating the villages as tightly packed residential clusters in order to preserve the majority of the site as virgin terrain, protestors claim that virgin beaches, olive groves and oak forests will be destroyed in the development, ruining one of the last remaining untouched parts of the coast.

The Bulgarian environmental partnership, For the Nature, is said to be the main protestor and are issuing a petition to protect Bulgaria's lands. The petition reads in part:

"The Black Sea coast in Bulgaria is threatened by over-development and extends to sites protected by NATURA 2000, the European ecological network. These seaside habitats include dunes, rocks, estuaries, lagoons, forests, and are home to numerous protected species. Currently the Bulgarian government completely ignores its obligation to the nature conservation directives for these protected sites. Consequently many of the supposedly safeguarded zones are on their way to being destroyed by thousands of small and large construction projects. Authorities seem unconcerned that public opinion polls show an overwhelming concern for preserving these areas – 77% of the general population, according to opinion polls conducted in July 2007."

At time of publication Foster + Partners and associate architects in the development, Project Ltd (based in Sofia), were both unavailable for comment.

Niki May Young
News Editor

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