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Shard architect beats 82 to Bulgaria job

After 19 years with Renzo Piano, William Matthews’ new practice has triumphed in an open competition to renovate an artists’ centre in Sofia

William Matthews Associates has won an international ideas competition to overhaul Bulgaria’s National Exhibition Centre.

The project architect on The Shard defeated teams from around the world to secure a slice of the contest’s £10,000 prize fund. 

The competition sought preliminary ideas to renovate and reclad the 6 Shipka Street building in central Sofia.

Completed by architect Ivanko Kavalov in 1972, the four-storey concrete building is also the headquarters of contest organiser, the Union of Bulgarian Artists.

Matthews, who worked at Renzo Piano Building Workshop for 19 years before opening William Matthews Associates in London last year (AJ 22.04.14), said: ‘I’m very pleased. It was a nice idea for the contest to reuse an existing building.’

He added: ‘It’s the first time we’ve done an open competition and you have to be realistic because the chances are slim. With ours one of 83 submissions, and assuming 20 of them were good, it was always going to be a long shot.’

Second place went to a collaboration between Bulgarian architects Simeon Stoilov, Ivan Dragoshinski, Anastasiya Atanasova and Dina Dragoshinska. Third place was won by Teodor Todorov.

An exhibition of the submitted designs will run 8–16 May inside the UBA building in Sofia.

Readers' comments (1)

  • This is a nice project, a surprise outcome of a competition. Nowadays competitions are a variant of a lottery. AJ should open a debate. We architects must stop working for free! If a developer wants several ideas, he should pay for them. You advertise competitions with 1.500 GBP in prizes ! It is a bad joke? We are the silliest pros in the world!

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