ELLIPSE CENTER: THE STORY BEHIND THE LEANING TOWER
Tall and oval, covered with diamond-shaped patterns, and formidably leaning: there is hardly anyone who has not noticed the building rising on the capital’s entrance from Tsarigradsko Shosse Boulevard.
Ellipse Center is a brainchild of French investor Mr. Claude Tabet and Bulgarian architect Atanas Panov, LP Consult. The visually striking tower will provide top quality offices for companies that seek spaces as creative and bold as their businesses are.
Years after first sod was made and with updated design concept corresponding with the current market development, Mr. Tabet is enthusiastic about the future opening, due in about a year. Inevitably, our talk about Ellipse Center began with its remarkable architectural solution.
Why did you decide to build a leaning structure?
Ellipse Center is my first development in Bulgaria, so I asked the architect, Mr. Atanas Panov, for a shape that is extraordinary, that is not a typical square or rectangle. My idea was to introduce on the market something different, something with impact. We agreed on an elliptical shape, and then he suddenly proposed to design the building leaning, in order to emphasise on its visibility from Tsarigradsko Shosse. Our aim was that when the area becomes developed and new high-risers appear, as it already has happened, the unique shape of Ellipse Center to stand out among the surrounding construction. It cost me 1.5 million euro more, but secured the investment, I think, forever.
Ellipse Center is a project that took some time to take shape.
We started building in 2008. The first stage construction, obtaining Act 14, was executed in 2010. Then we stopped. The global financial and economic crisis had reached Bulgaria and both the banks and the market players were reluctant to finance such project. There was no demand for such space. Today, however, everything is different and we resumed work with funding from Eurobank Bulgaria AD. For the undergoing finishing of the project, we are working with the Austrian contractor Strabag. We plan that by the beginning of 2018 the tower will be ready.
What companies would feel best in Ellipse Center?
When we started, our concept was to provide spaces to smaller companies like private clinics, auditing companies, law firms, etc. But now the market has changed. We are living in the days of innovative companies, technological breakthroughs, outsourcing expansion, and all those businesses require large spaces. So we amended the design. Dedicated to large companies, we removed the interior partitions on the floors, and we made one office per floor, each of them 932 sq.m. The top floor office has an individual green terrace.
What technical parameters do you offer to your future tenants?
Ellipse Center has two underground levels, a ground level and 12 floors with offices, with a leasable area of 13,785 sq. m. The underground parking has 133 places plus 20 more for visitors, and the metro station is in a close proximity. We also provided spaces for a restaurant and recreation.
As a place where hundreds of people will come for work and business, Ellipse Center will provide full security, access control, BMS and CCTV; it has four high-speed Schindler elevators with access control, plus two service lifts, and a back-up diesel generator. We changed the air conditioning concept to be more practical and energy efficient, and installed HVAC mini VRV systems. The air conditioning system is now decentralised. Every office has individual temperature control.
An important adaptation we made are the 16 cm raised floors providing enough space for all the necessary cabling and established places for servers. On all floors we have established loggias that provide access to fresh air.
The windows are truly impressive. The façade is with Schüco profiles and is defined by these huge triangles that make the impression of a large diamond. They are triple glazed and allow marvellous views in all directions; they also contribute for the high level of energy efficiency of the building.
Flexibility for the potential tenants is another advantage of Ellipse Center. It includes not only the different options for allocation of the workstations, but also the future restaurant and recreational area.
We have preserved a space on the ground floor, with an area of about 200 sq.m, for accelerator for start-up companies.
In short, Ellipse Center is a true class A office building that brings in a future of sustainability and high-end technology development.
This part of Sofia is now becoming a business district. What are its advantages?
In Europe, as you know, it is common that downtown is where people prefer to live while businesses are in the suburbs not only because of the cost, but also because communication is easier and there are more facilities. In our case, you have the highway to Plovdiv and a quick access to the center via Tsarigradsko Shosse Boulevard. The Sofia Airport is also close.
This is why this area is inevitably becoming a main business district. New projects are already being developed, because the market needs these office spaces. Many IT, outsourcing and other companies are expanding and relocating. There is a huge potential in the area.
How do you think the rents will move?
Bulgaria is economically stable, and it is attractive to investors with its taxation policy. There are a lot of incentives for the growing businesses in the fields of technology, pharmaceutical, outsourcing companies, etc. One of Bulgaria's main advantages is the educated bilingual workforce and I am expecting that demand is going to increase.
When did you arrive in Bulgaria?
It was in 2006, shortly before Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU. It was a good time, the market was booming and there was an insufficiency of quality office spaces.
What do you like in Sofia?
I like how green Sofia is, it is a rare thing to find some greenery in many European capitals. I don't say there are no other places with greenery, but the quantity... So, I like the nature. I like to walk around Sofia, even in winter when there is snow. And I like the Vitosha. I don't ski, but I go there for the clean air.
I also appreciate the quality of life. People are lovely and are calm, have la vie tranquille...
There are options for sport, and for travel all over the country. But in Sofia – attractive, green and energetic – you have everything.
Recommend to our readers a few places in Bulgaria that you like?
Old town of Plovdiv, Sozopol, Nesebar, and, of course, Sofia.
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