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William Matthews wins £12.86m Bulgarian resort contest

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William Matthews Associates has won an international competition seeking designs for a £12.86 million mixed-use development at the Borovets ski and mountain resort in Bulgaria

The London studio – which won a high-profile contest for a new £4 million footbridge at Tintagel Castle two years ago – was selected ahead of 40 rival submissions by teams from 17 countries.

Second place went to Bulgarian practice ADA while Project Vitae, another local firm, came third. William Matthews Associates will now receive a £9,120 honorarium and the right to negotiate for the design contract with project backer Samokov Municipality.

The anonymous single-stage competition sought ‘attractive, innovative and sustainable’ proposals for a commercial, recreational and leisure hub at the centre of the popular holiday destination, 70km from the capital, Sofia.

The winning 5,620m² project, designed in partnership with Stephen George International Bulgaria, will transform a prominent plot known as the Golden Triangle, situated next to the finish line of the ski runs, the chairlift and some of the resort’s most important hotel complexes. The busy 2.3ha site is currently occupied by a large number of improvised restaurants, cafés, bars, shops and stalls, along with many coniferous trees.

According to a statement by the contest organisers: ‘The winning project takes into account the specifics of the context, respecting the natural landscape and the human scale. The project offers a safe, semi-covered ski, bicycle and pedestrian connection between the slopes and the lift stations, ensuring a good organisation of the various communication flows in the territory.

‘The project combines retail spaces, information center, sport and recreation areas, underground parking and spaces for exhibitions and events. The proposal binds the existing public spaces with the park environment in the Triangle, keep the nature fully preserved and approaches with respect to the immovable cultural heritage located in the territory.’

Borovets was founded in 1896 as a hunting estate for Bulgarian kings and is the country’s oldest ski and mountain sports resort. The popular year-round holiday destination is located in the Samokov valley at the foot of the Rila, Verila, Vitosha and Plana mountains.

The free-to-enter competition was supported by the Chamber of Architects in Bulgaria, the Union of Architects in Bulgaria and the Union of Urbanists in Bulgaria.

Judges included Marius Mowe, co-founder of Norway’s Oslo Atelier; Vanya Serafimova, managing partner at Atelier Serafimov Architects; and Nadejda Klincheva-Koleva, chief architect at the Municipality of Samokov.

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