Survey and analysis of Buzludzha Monumet

Anders Jonatan
Schröter Lisa
Thomas Carina
Neuere Baudenkmalpflege

Located on a mountain peak in central Bulgaria, the Buzludzha Monument was completed in 1981 to celebrate the history of socialism. It was used for only eight years – until the dissolution of the socialist regime in Bulgaria in 1989. Today the glamour has turned into decay and is highly endangered, but the building still attracts attention due to its dramatic history, gravity-defying architecture and 1000 m² of extraordinary, colorful mosaics. Its saucer-shaped body, with a 60 m free-spanning roof and 20 m overhangs, symbolizes a wreath commemorating the historical events which happened there. In February 2018, the monument was recognized by the heritage organization Europa Nostra as one of the “7 Most Endangered” heritage sites in Europe.

The Getty Foundation has awarded a $185,000 grant for the conservation of the Buzludzha Monument as part of its 2019 ‘Keeping It Modern Initiative’. Prof. Thomas Danzl, holder of the Chair of Conservation-Restoration, Art Technology and Conservation Science, and Dora Ivanova, founder of the “Buzludzha Project Foundation”, are the
organizers of a large initiative on the iconic and controversial artifact of Bulgaria’s socialist era. Together with Andreas Putz, Professor for Recent Building Heritage, they offered a kick-off summer school.

The Getty Grant will fund the creation of a conservation and management plan for the Buzludzha Monument, beginning with a full evaluation of the building’s structural condition. It explores the future (re)use of the monument, and aim to establish a viable business model for operating Buzludzha as a reinvigorated heritage site. This phase will conclude with the release of a public report in September 2020, forming a basis for further decision-making.

The project has been undertaken by a multidisciplinary team of Bulgarian and international experts including the German and Bulgarian committees of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites); the Technical University of Munich (TUM as institutional member of ICOMOS); the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Sofia; the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden and the Hochschule der Künste Bern; as well as the Buzludzha Project Foundation, a Bulgarian organization which has been campaigning since 2015 for the monument’s preservation.

During the summer school in September 2019 the current condition of the building was documented and the reasons for the decay were analyzed. Architecture and restoration students worked together in groups to develop a basis documentation. Exchange between experts and students from these two fields contributed a better understanding of the construction and materiality of the complex structure. This documentation will contribute for further planning and discussion of the monument’s future.

Chair of Conservation-Restoration, Art Technology and Conservation Science
Prof. Dr. Thomas Danzl
Dr. Roberta Fonti, Nadia Thalguter

Professorship for Recent Building Heritage Conservation
Prof. Dr. Andreas Putz
Meltem Çavdar

Partner Institution:
Bern University of the Arts
Jonas Roters

Dresden Academy of Fine Arts
Carola Möwald

Project partner:
ICOMOS Germany
Jörg Haspel

Buzludzha Project Foundation
Dora Ivanova

The Getty Foundation, “Keeping It Modern” Initiative

Inside of the Buzludzha Monumet
Students are working in the building
Isometry Construction
roof / circular beam / circular beam and windows / shell / supports
Water Intake
Water intakte visible in the outside ring and enclosed chambers in the concrete shell
Section of the building
Water entry through the ceiling into a closed chamber between the ribs of the shell supports
Tribune details
construction of the steps
floor construction / external wall construction / ventilation system