Through the years, AGGA Studio has authored dozens of successful projects: offices and residential buildings, hotels and spa centres, industrial and public buildings, restaurants, cafés and bars, interiors and furniture. We talk to the studio's founders, architects Angelina and Alexander Gerenski.
What is the latest project on which AGGA Studio is working? Which part of the work is the most interesting to you as professionals?
Currently, we work on increasingly diverse projects. The latest one that we finished is a compound of 10 houses in Markovo village, near Plovdiv. This is an attractive region with a vista to the city that has become a luxury residential area for people who want to escape urban life. We definitely met some challenges as each project has its specificities and we, at AGGA Studio, have a tradition to make our best to implement the most advanced world practices.
Thanks to MIG Engineering, as an investor and developer, we successfully implement high quality and ideas that are still new to the Bulgarian market and clients. In the particular task we put a lot of effort into creating an interior space that is in constant conversation both with the outdoor, and with itself, room by room. The modern house of 280 sq.m and the plot area of 550 sq.m guarantee the feel of seclusion and also seamless functionality and easy maintenance. We strive towards functional simplification, but we implemented in the project a lot of amenities, niches, automatisation and green energy solutions that make our clients' lives easier and nicer.
Complete design is among AGGA Studio's main services. How do clients benefit from this approach?
Complete design is the only way for us to guarantee a quality service. We cannot do this when we are forced to comply with conflicting points of view and when we have to work with teams outside of our partners' portfolio. Our Complete Engineering service allows us to realise the projects we design in the best possible way. Most people see architectural plans as unimportant for their investment's realisation. In actual fact, they are crucial for architects as they allow them to understand in depth each detail of your production, public or residential function, and to build on this the foundations of a well designed building. Architecture is by far not just drawing of objects. For me it is very wrong to generalise plans made by "designers." The main goal of architecture is to improve quality of life. We, however, should be a braver and more open to new things in order to benefit from the world innovations in construction.
What principles do you follow when you design bespoke furniture?
We have created all types of furniture and interiors. Most clients want a replica of something they have seen on social media. In the past 9 years we managed to convince our clients that investment in an individual project is the most sensible solution. For us, the interior is a combination of practicality and knowledge of the market, the innovative materials and technologies. We draw everything to the tiniest detail. Through the years we have manufactured a variety of furniture pieces using methods like 3D printers, CNC machines and others. For us, interior design is this part of architecture that affects the most quality of life. We, at AGGA Studio, always try to understand in depth the goal of a piece of furniture, and then to upgrade this functionality. Fashion changes but comfort will always come first!
As authors of interesting office solutions, what new trends do you see in the evolutions of this type of interior?
We have designed open office spaces, more restricted spaces for a specific hierarchy and shared (open) office spaces that combine cosiness and space for 4-15 people. For some years now trends have beene towards use of technologies that improve work space and prevent health problems connected to sedentary living. Covid-19 definitely forced people to adapt; the number of visitors has dropped. Not that long ago a person in an open office had 4 sq.m of space, today this area is 10 sq.m.
This is not bad by default, but it somewhat makes redundant the very idea of shared spaces that facilitate communication. We think that the main interest in the field will stay targeted towards different systems for archiving of hard copy and digital documents. Sadly, optimisation does not always benefit a business. It was proven that in open spaces face-to-face communication drops with 70%, and employees' closeness and desire to improve the overall conditions decreases with up to 80%. Reduced physical contact due to the pandemic and the modern businesses' adaptation to it are yet to affect the natural rules and relations in the world of money. Depersonalisation and globalisation by all means reduce the quality of work and limit innovative solutions.
What about public spaces?
We have designed a number of industrial and residential buildings, but we have specialised in the field of public buildings. In Bulgaria the lack of proper master planning leads to lack of properly realised public spaces and buildings. When we, architects, talk about urban environment, we start with master planning. It goes beyond the design of the building in question, it is also about how the building's presence will affect the life of the area's inhabitants. I believe that Sofia has long wasted its chance for proper development.
This, however, does not mean that there are no professionals in Bulgaria who can properly plan and develop master planning projects. To properly evaluate a public function, we have to start from core parameters such as crowd behaviour and others that will define the size in which we have to operate, based on projected human streams. We all suffer from traffic jams, impediments for pedestrians, queues etc, and we try to solve them. The problems appear because some investors and architects do not consider the analyses and surveys of public functions, and overburden some areas. One of the biggest questions an architect faces is: "Does the function follow the design, or vice versa." We can definitively say that in public buildings function always comes first! It should be planned and developed so that it does not obstruct neighbouring buildings. It should even improve the urban environment. Because our everyday life and thoughts depend on it.
AGGA Studio has implemented a number of practices and standards in the documents we produce. In 2017 we also created a single standard and database of BIM models for a higher level of planning and design. We strive to use the most advanced methods for analysis and model preparation. We are proud of the quality of our industrial, public and residential projects, ranging from sewage processing plants and buildings of public importance to all sorts of factories to gated residential communities with all amenities.
Each project of AGGA Studio is the result of a lot of work and experience and of getting into the details connected to drawing itself, but also to practical methods that will make our clients smile. When we visit places that we have designed, years after we have finished our work there, we see that people are satisfied and happy with our solutions and with the standards we have implemented. Some companies in Bulgaria fool their clients with different tricks and use of popular brands, but we know that people are adequate to our times and seek modern and quality products. For us, the most important thing is to design and develop quality projects with added value and application of innovative solutions.