Concept competition for the development of the former Bulgarian National Bank building, Plovdiv


Location and features

The former building of the Bulgarian National Bank – Plovdiv branch, with administrative address No. 51 “Raiko Daskalov” Street, is a singular immovable cultural heritage property from the modern era, without a specific category, declared with letter No. 395/13.02.85. of the National Institute of Monuments of Culture. The building is located in a group immovable cultural heritage property A – a system of street ensembles along “Knyaz Alexander I” Street, „Otets Paisiy“ Street, „Raiko Daskalov“ Street, „Hristo G. Danov“ Street and Dzhumaya Square, falling within the boundaries of the Historical Zone „Philippopol – Trimontium – Plovdiv“.
According to data from the cadastre, the building is marked with the identifier 56784.518.415.1, Plovdiv district, Plovdiv municipality, Plovdiv city, Central district, 4000, 51 „Raiko Daskalov“ Street, designated for an „Administrative, business building“, with 5 floors, consisting of  2 separate units, with a built-up area of 1080 sq. m. Currently, the building is divided into two sub-units, one of which is privately owned and today houses a branch of Unicredit Bulbank.


The building was initially constructed as a bank and it retained its original function within its active lifetime. It was built according to the project of arch. Henri (Heinrich) Mayer (1856 – 1930), who arrived in Bulgaria in 1878, and in 1892 became the chief architect of the first Bulgarian Exposition, designing a large number of the pavilions. The building was designed in the spirit of late classicism with clearly visible Renaissance influences.
The construction of the original bank, one of the most emblematic buildings of its time, was carried out according to Mayer‘s design in 1909. The original design featured a balanced composition of two volumes – a higher 3-storey body with offices and a lower body, in which the bank lobby was developed levelling the second floor in height. The central façade facing „Raiko Daskalov“ Street was designed as strictly symmetrical, in 5 axes. In the southern side (facing „Bankova“ Street), both volumes can be discerned, the lower of which is resolved in 4 axes. An interesting element is the pronounced transition in the levels. The whole composition has a clearly marked pattern and a strict but harmonious single rhythm.
The central façade is richly decorated with sculptural elements – cartouches, emphasized imitative keystones, pilasters with bases and Corinthian capitals, cornice with plastic stucco dentil, profiled window frames and delicately hinted window panes, as well as simply ornamented softwood joinery. On the vertical, the first floor is highlighted with a granite plinth, above which an imitative rusticity is deployed by means of stucco molding. Lavish wrought-iron grills partially cover the window openings, subsequently duplicated by a second row of grills, of a different character and grid, which drastically detract from the appearance of the central façade. A simple cornice separates the ground level from the „bel étage“ and the third level. The entrance is decorated with pilasters, with a caduceus and with an elegant stone balcony, functioning as an awning. The second and third floors are visually united by pilasters topped with Corinthian capitals. In the „bel étage“ the caduceus serve as a strong visual accent, emphasizing the function of the edifice. 
Withing the window panes we find delicate molded flag holders. A specific rhythm is also noticeable in the shape design of the window openings – those on the ground floor are designed as segmented, on the second level – rectangular, on the third – with a semicircular arch. The strict axial symmetry is also emphasized by a tower with a round lunette, with plaster decoration.
In 1929, the building was expanded with three axes alongside „Raiko Daskalov“ Street and three axes alongside „Bankova“ Street, thus shaping the fronts of the building along the two streets.
Above the cornice and the roof slopes there are two decoratively shaped skylights and a pointed tower – three elements clearly visible from the main street, establishing the building as an urban planning benchmark.
In 1974, an extension was built over the existing floors on „Raiko Daskalov“ and „Bankova“ streets and an extension alongside „Zamenhov“ and „P. Karavelov“ streets as well, shaping the entire neighborhood block by a peripheral building with a small inner courtyard-ramp. The facade from „Zamenhof“ street was designed with pilasters – an interpretation of the Doric style and rectangular windows, thus providing a clear visual distinction of the individual construction periods.
In 2006-2007, the part of the facades, which today are owned by „Unicredit Bulbank“ on the front of „Zamenhof“ Street and „Petko Todorov“ Street, were renovated. The colors used (blue, purple) differ from the original chromatics of the building – ochre, yellow and white (data about which we find in the original paint layers).
The building currently consists of an underground floor (vaults), a ground floor, two floors and an attic space.
There are some specifics in the plan structure – the labyrinth-shaped underground is structurally solved with load-bearing walls and a Prussian vault and security vaults built into the walls.
On the ground floor there are offices and a large bank lounge. The floors are covered with several types beautiful ceramic tiles. The approach to the central banking hall is impressive, in which the spatial accent is the revolving door crowned on the inside with a clock.
On the second, „bel étage“, the partial enfilade structure characteristic of the office premises is preserved. An impressive highlight is the view of the bank salon from the windows in the corridor.
In the corridor on the third floor, traces of the closed panoramic semi-circular windows (symmetrically shaped in relation to the central facade along „Raiko Daskalov“ Street), probably closed during the reconstruction in 1974, are clearly visible. In the rooms added in the 1970s, preserved elements of late 1970s and early 1980s interior design trends can be seen – wooden wall panels, heavy chandeliers.
Service rooms are located in the attic space. Even though the east and north facades are visibly deteriorated, overall the building is in good structural condition and awaits its new life.

Bird's eye view

View of the public square space in front of the former bank building


The former Bulgarian National Bank  building – branch Plovdiv is located in the central part of the city with GPS coordinates 42.1507741018731, 24.746340788733978. Its central entrance is from the east towards „Raiko Daskalov“ Street – the longest pedestrian street in Europe. The building is pulled back from the front of the surrounding development, forming a small public square, which over time evolved as a traditional place for exhibitions, outdoor performances, craft fairs and other cultural events and activities.
The „Dom Levski“ building is located in the immediate vicinity, on the north side. It was built on the site of the ottoman Karaul Han (Guard Inn) in 1925 according to the project of arch. Ivan Kanazirski and arch. Petko Stoilov, maintaining its function as an office building with a commercial ground floor up to this day.
The bank building fits harmoniously into the environment, comprised of a significant number of well-preserved buildings of similar character and date, bearing the spirit of the beginning of the 20th century.
The square space in front of the former bank is situated at the intersection of two distinct series of public squares and micro-spaces.
The first, in a south-north direction, is the system of spaces along the longest pedestrian axis demarkated by the Central square, „Stefan Stambolov“ square, the stairs of Kamenitsa, the micro-space next to the City Art Gallery – Plovdiv on „Knyaz Alexander I“ Street, the Roman Stadium Square, the space of the former „Riben Pazar“ (Fish Market), the space in front of the Central Halls, the space in front of the former Bulgarian national Bank building, the space near the pedestrian bridge, on the north side of „Shesti Septemvri“ Blvd.
In a west-east direction, the series of urban micro-spaces can be traced from the garden of the former „Kocho Chestimenski“ cinema, „Tsar Kaloyan“ square and the opposite space to Tash Kyupreu Mosque, Dondukova garden, „Saedinenie“ square, the square space in front of the former Bulgarian National Bank building, Hebros Square and the space opposite it at the intersection of “Shesti Septemvri”Blvd and “Tsar Boris III Obedinitel” Blvd. in the southwest quadrant.
In the context of the urban environment evolution and the development of the cultural microclimate in Plovdiv, as well as bearing in mind the location of the buildings, designated for culture, along „Knyaz Alexander I“ Street and „Raiko Daskalov“ Street and considering the utilization of the public square space in front of the building as a place for exhibitions, events, fairs and performances, the purpose of the former bank building as a building for culture is a logical and expected development, especially in the context of the near proximity of the Regional Archaeological Museum – Plovdiv, Regional History Museum – Plovdiv, Regional Natural History Museum and Kapana Art Gallery and Kapana – Creative Industries District.
All of this determines the central role of the former Bulgarian National Bank building as a hot spot, as a visual and functional landmark, as an attractive urban core that will appropriately enliven the northern part of the longest pedestrian zone in Europe, thus enriching the experience of the urban environment not only for the guests of the city, but also for its residents.
It is of utmost importance that the building remains accessible and open to the general public by hosting one or more functions or turning it into a cultural hub where different stakeholders from the cultural and/or creative industries could collaborate.

Creating an idea vault

The current concept competition for the reuse of the former bank building aims to restore the importance of the building as an urban landmark by implanting a new function in accordance with the city development. A rethinking of functions and unused spaces is needed. The opening of the iconic for Plovdiv building to the general public is of key importance for its socialization and preservation.
The aim of the current initiative is to identify and select appropriate functions for future development, which will serve as a basis for the building’s resocialization as a recognizable and valuable element of Plovdiv‘s cultural infrastructure.
The expected result is the discovery of an opportunity for the building to be reborn as the focus of the surrounding territory by creating a semantic connection (physical/virtual/conceptual/artistic) not only with the adjacent territory, but also with the entire urban organism. The current competition is a case study for a systematic strategy to provide a basis for the sustainable preservation of immovable cultural values.
Participants should study and clarify the various parameters for the possible implementation of the proposed idea, justifying the functional necessity and expediency of the proposed idea; to determine the functional structure and the required spaces, as well as to make an economic justification.

Within their proposals, the participants should focus on determining the functional structure of the building, the adequate synthesis between the planned function and the existing building and the integration of the building into the current social and cultural infrastructure. Within the economic justification the Participant should propose both a management model and proposed timeframe for the procedures, the planning and the overall implementation of the proposal.

The presentation and the submission of the concepts is not tied to the creation of an architectural project. The competition is for ideas for a new function of the building and does not constitute a competition for an investment project within the meaning of the Law on Territorial Planning and the Ordinance on holding competitions in spatial planning and investment design. 

There is no specific functional line to be developed by the participants. The only restrictions are related to the requirement that the building should remain with public functions, and that the adjacent public square space should be harmoniously included, in compliance with the best principles and practices of cultural heritage preservation at national and international level, taking into account the national regulatory framework and treating with respect the original building structure.

Source Data

For the needs of the participants, the following materials are provided as input data:

  • GPS coordinates;
  • digital file of the adjacent territory (sample from specialized cadastre);
  • schematic floor layouts with linear scale;
    * Note: the plans provided are not intended to be accurate, but a schematic layout to give an idea of the structure of the building.
  • digital model of the building;
  • interior and exterior photo material;
  • an opportunity for an on-site visit to familiarize yourself with the building, on a predetermined schedule.

Virtual Tour and digital model

The virtual walk and use of a 3D model are provided courtesy of Rubecula, a company specializing in the creation of digital twins and 3D models, employing LIDAR technology and photogrammetry. The immersive model, combining the latest methods and tools, features a high resolution and photorealistic view, providing an authentic experience of the object and its environment. In the current model, you can rely on an accuracy of +/- 20mm at a distance of 10m.


Entrants must submit two A0 size panels explaining their concept, portrait orientation, either in digital pdf format with a maximum size of 20 MB, or in hard copy. The boards, according to the attached sample, must contain diagrams, sketches, drawings, collages (including one mandatory exterior collage/view of the public square in front of the building and one mandatory interior collage/view of the bank lounge), motto/slogan proposals, etc. The graphic documentation should be accompanied by an explanatory note justifying the proposal in a minimum of 2000 and a maximum of 3000 words.

The competition is not anonymous.

Proposals are submitted either:

– electronically at until 23:59 on 30.04.2024;


– on paper until 17:00 on 30.04.2024 at the  Municipality of Plovdiv, 1 “Stefan Stambolov” square, for the competition initiative “Trezor za idei” (Idea Vault) in person or via licensed postal operator.
* The date of the postmark is valid.

Prize Fund

Three of the best ideas will receive a BGN 3,000 prize each. The awarded proposals will be presented to the general public in the form of an exhibition in the open urban spaces in front of the former bank building.

The competition is for ideas and it does not include a subsequent investment project within the meaning of the Law on Territorial Planning and the Ordinance on Conducting Competitions in Spatial Planning and Investment Design.

Sending proposals and/or awarding within the framework of this competition does not constitute any kind of professional commitment between the Participant and the Municipality of Plovdiv. The Municipality of Plovdiv reserves the right to use freely, publish and present the submitted proposals when the authors of the idea are mentioned.

3 x 3,000 BGN


Announcement of the competition: 26.02.2024

Open day for on-site visits:
15.03.2024; 22.03.2024 and 29.03.2024.
*The on-site visit takes place after a prior request and scheduling specific hours via email at

Deadline for submitting proposals:

23:59 on 30/04/2024 electronically at or by 17:00 on 30/04/2024 at the office of the Municipality of Plovdiv, 1 Stefan Stambolov Square, for the competition initiative “Trezor za idei” (Idea Vault) in person or via licensed postal operator.
* The date of the postmark is valid.

Announcement of the results: аfter 20.05.2024


30 April 2024


A jury consisting of an odd number of members will evaluate the submitted proposals.

Deputy Mayor „Culture, Archeology and Tourism“, Municipality of Plovdiv


  • Representative of Chamber of architects in Bulgaria – Plovdiv
  • Representative of Union of the architects in Bulgaria – Plovdiv
  • Chief architect, Municipality of Plovdiv
  • Representatives of public institutions, guilds and other public figures

The jury will be announced after 30 April 2024

Requirements for participants

Individuals over the age of 18 and legal entities can participate in the competition.

Acceptable languages for submitting proposals are Bulgarian and English.

Announcement of the results:

All participants will be notified of the outcome of the competition through an official announcement on the website of the Municipality of Plovdiv. The award-winning Participants will be notified personally via electronic mail.


Submitted proposals may be disqualified in case of:

  • incorrectly filled application form;
  • failure to present the complete set and scope of the required materials;
  • any kind of communication with the members of the jury regarding the competition initiative;
  • submission of materials after the deadline;
  • publication of the consept proposal before the announcement of the results, including in social media and personal profiles in social networks, blogs, etc.


The Municipality of Plovdiv reserves the right to freely use, publish and present the submitted proposals when the authorship of the idea is mentioned. Participants can self-publish their concept proposal after the announcement of the results.


By submitting the concept proposal, each participant agrees to every part of this assignment and its terms, as well as to the final decision of the jury.

The Municipality of Plovdiv reserves the right to end the competition or change the schedule at any time if the organizers deem it necessary or if unforeseen circumstances arise.

Answers published in the question and answer section will be considered part of the competition rules.

Requests for additional information are made only by e-mail at

Questions asked on social media or by phone call will not be answered.

For any question related to the competition, the entrant must use the aforementioned question and answer procedure.

For questions:


Participants agree to have their personal data processed by the administrator.

Participants agree that their personal data will be processed solely for the purpose of this competition/initiative.

The participants give their consent to the processing of their personal data freely, specifically for the purposes of item 12.2., and on the basis of the minimum necessary information provided by the administrator, according to Art. 13, par. 1 and par. 2, respectively according to Art. 14 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679.

Assessment criteria

  1. Role in the urban environment: 35 pts.
    • Suitability of the proposal in the context of the city (0-20 points)*
      Justify the choice of function in accordance with the needs of urban development.
    • Contextual, functional and aesthetic layout of the public square space (0-10 points)
    • Importance for local communities (0-5 points)
  2. Innovation and originality: 35 pts.
    • Innovation and originality of the idea (0-20 points)
    • Organicity and complexity of the idea (possibility of multi-genre collaborations, as well as combination of related activities and/or complementary functions) – (0-10 points)
    • Use of modern audio-visual and digital technologies (0-5 points)
  3. Initerior spaces function and design: 30 pts.
    • Functional zoning of interior spaces (0-10 points)
    • Visual layout of the interior spaces (0-10 points)
    • Realistic implementation of the proposed interventions and compliance of the proposal with the value of the building as a cultural asset (0-10 points)
  4. Еconomic and time frame of implementation of the proposal: 10 pts.
    • Economic justification of the proposal (0-5 points)* Note:
      Including forecasted number of visitors, target groups, estimated aggregated cost figures, revenue and analysis.
    • Time frame for implementation of the proposal (0-5 points)


A: Answers to questions we’ve received at the email will be published to this section. Please keep in mind that answers in this Q&A sections will be considered an official part of the competition rules. All questions posed by phone or social networks will be ignored.

A: The files in dwg format are located in the documents package, folder “Source data”.

The layouts in dwg format are indicative and do not claim to be accurate. Their aim is to give general view of the building layout. In addition, approximate dimensions can also be obtained from the virtual tour of the building option:, as well as during a site visit in accordance with the visiting days plan. The competition is for ideas and concepts and measured drawings with high and precise level of accurary are not a necessity for the presentation of a project.

The mere submission of the competitive proposal (Applications 1 through 5) within the deadline specified in the conditions is considered as registration and thus preliminary registration is required.

We confirm that it is possible to send the proposal documents (Application 1 through 5) electronically to the address and sending a paper copy is not mandatory. Submission in digital or paper form is at the Participant’s choice.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide the materials you requested. You can use the virtual model and the virtual tour inside the building not only to look at its interior, but also use the available options to visualize floor-by-floor plans and take some measurements with an accuracy of +/- 20 mm at a distance of 10m , including you can partially explore the facades in the provided virtual model. You can also use the provided 3d-point-cloud model in the documentation package. You can check out the virtual model here:

Application 2 is provided in bilingual format in the documentation package.

It is highly recommended that you follow the template provided.

The mere submission of the competition proposal (Application 1 through 5) within the deadline specified in the conditions is considered as registration and there is no need to submit a preliminary application for registration.

Site visits are organized on pre-announced dates:
15.03.2024, 22.03.2024 and 29.03.2024, in the period 10:00 – 12:00 hours, and due to the complexity of the building, we would rather walk around as a group. In order to make the most of the opportunity for an on-site inspection, we recommend that you request an inspection in advance at, including your phone number if you wish. We recommend respecting the starting time of the tours. There is no limitation to the number of site visits within the announced on-site inspection dates.

No, there is no registration/participation fee. The competition is free and open-access.

An excerpt of the General Layout Plan and its legend is located in the Documentation, Source Data folder. In addition, you can learn more about the General Layout Plan here:

The explanatory note is a separate element, part of the applications, precisely Application 2 and should be submitted as a separate file (in paper or electronic version).

Yes, that is correct. A part of the building is privately owned and functions as a local branch of a bank institution.

If we have understood you correctly, you are mentioning “Dom Levski” building (to the north of the bank building). Unfortunately, the building is privately owned and is not within the scope of the current competition.

Yes, the built spot is 1080 m2. However, the building consists of several levels, all of which should be taken into consideration. You can explore all of the levels within out virtual tour option here: using the floor plan option (in the lower left corner) as well.

You can gather more information about the subsoil level via our virtual tour option (floor plan visualization option in the lower left corner of the screen):

No initial registration is required.

The registration is automatically completed upon the submission of the visualizations and the rest of the application forms (Applications 1-5).

The submission deadline is 23:59 Eastern European Time, 30th April 2024.

Please, note that the Eastern European Time zone uses daylight saving time.

Unfortunately, we would not be able to extend the deadline. However, the competition is for ideas and is open for participation. Please note that the registration is automatically completed upon the submission of the drawings and the rest of the application forms (Applications 1-5). The submission deadline is 23:59 Eastern European Time, 30th April 2024.

Please, note that the Eastern European Time zone uses daylight saving time.

The submission deadline is 23:59 Eastern European Time, 30th April 2024.

Please, note that the Eastern European Time zone uses daylight saving time.

You may intervene with the plaza located in front of the main facade with respect to the historical, cultural and built context.

Regarding the historic part of the building (see the archive materials) we discourage such a radical approach. However, in the 1970’s addition, you may, if you feel the need to, to remove some of the non-bearing walls.

The functional interpretation should cover all the levels of the building. However, the northwestern part of the building is privately owned and thus not included in the provided schemes. You can explore all the levels of the building within the virtual tour option at using the floor plan option in the lower left corner as well.

We discourage such a radical approach. However, if you feel that your design should benefit from such a decision, it is up to you to decide.

You can make design interpretations with respect to the historic buildings and its context.

According to the lines of conduct adopted within the EU, the approach being taken is to minimize and/or terminate cooperation and contacts with the Russian Federation and Belarus at the multilateral and bilateral level. The approach adopted is that members of institutions of EU member states do not participate in events organized or co-organized by Russia and/or Belarus, as well as representatives of both countries are not invited to participate in official events, formats and other public events organized by or under the patronage of the EU, respectively by its member states. In addition, the fact that the government of the Russian Federation announced a list of countries that carry out “hostile acts” against it, its companies and citizens is also taken into account. The list includes all the countries of the European Union, including Bulgaria.

Adding a QR code is at your discretion. Please note that you may submit your proposal either on paper in the office of the Municipality of Plovdiv or electronically at Regarding the limit for the explanatory note accompanying the proposal, it is a minimum of 2000 words and a maximum of 3000 words.

Questions from participants will be added to this section

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