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Competition: Karin Dom children’s centre, Bulgaria

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An international contest has been launched to design a €1.45 million centre for children with special needs in Varna, Bulgaria

The free-to-enter competition seeks proposals for a headquarters for the Karin Dom Foundation, which provides support for around 300 children with special needs and training for more than 1,200 people every year. It is currently based inside a 1908 former villa which is no longer fit for purpose.

The project – supported by Velux Foundations, Varna Municipality, and the Union of Architects in Bulgaria – will create a 1,800m² flexible and accessible care facility for the charity on a 2,450m plot located on Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard. The overall winner will receive a €5,000 prize and a €100,000 design and delivery contract for the building.

In its brief, Karin Dom Foundation says it is ‘one of the first organisations in Bulgaria to create an alternative to the institutions model for services and care for children with special needs and their families. It was established in 1994 by the diplomat Ivan Stancioff, who attracted and inspired donors and specialists in order to prove that there are not “uneducable” children.

‘All of Karin Dom’s activities have been brought together under the roof of the former villa of the Stancioff family, built in 1908, which does not meet the needs of the organisation to develop its services and trainings. For that reason in 2019 Varna Municipal Council decided to donate a plot to Karin Dom with the purpose of construction of a new building. Funding for this new building is provided by the Velux Foundations.’

Varna is Bulgaria’s third largest city and a major Black Sea port and seaside resort. Karin Dom is a leading care and education charity focusing on the needs of young people with special needs and their families. 

The new base will be built on a large city-centre courtyard plot which has been donated to the charity. It will be constructed in a tree-lined courtyard close to the city’s main thoroughfare, Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard, and surrounded by several major hospitals and the Spartak Stadium. A landscaping solution for the surrounding area will also be required from contest participants.

The building will feature a social rehabilitation and integration centre, an early intervention centre, a centre for family-mediated intervention, and a training facility. Offices, therapy rooms, play spaces, a ‘toy library’, seminar spaces and teaching areas will all be included in the maximum five-storey complex.

The competition comes four years after Rotterdam-based Architects for Urbanity won a contest for a new 18,500m2 central library in the city.

Judges for the Karin Dom centre will include the foundation’s executive director Maya Doneva; City of Varna chief architect Victor Buzev; Bulgarian Green Building Council chair Vessela Valtcheva-McGee; and Hristo Stankushev, founder of Sofia-based 7561 Architects.

The overall winner, to be announced on 4 March, will receive a €5,000 prize and be invited to enter into a €100,000 design and delivery contract. A second prize of €3,000 and third prize of €2,000 will also be awarded.

The competition language is English and the deadline for applications is 19 February. 

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

Email: competition@karindom.org 

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