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Non-profit architect group brightens up Sofia

Low-budget civic art, design transforming Bulgarian city

Published Mon, Jan 20, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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[SOFIA, Bulgaria] Delcho Delchev came back.

For many of his generation, this is commuting against the tide of emigration from his native Bulgaria into the rest of Europe. But Mr Delchev, a 34-year-old architect, is one of the founders of a non-profit group called Transformers that has been trying since 2009 to brighten up this former Soviet outpost with low-budget civic art and design projects.

A few years ago, he returned to Bulgaria, turning down an offer to stay in France, where he had been studying. In some ways, Sofia might not seem like the most inspiring place for an architect. Rows of Soviet-era buildings stack up like dominoes along the landscape, many crumbling. Sculpture from the Communist and czarist eras dominate public spaces, unemployment has been rising sharply, and for months protesters have been gathering in the city's streets to denounce the latest government, which is viewed as corrupt and out of touch.

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