Issue 174

ARCHITECT MARTIN TERZIEV: WHEN ARCHITECTURE IS A LIFE MISSION

Architecture is a part of the human experience that exists on the verge between utilitarian and art, the functional and the visually stunning, the mundane and the extraordinary. How to create buildings and architecture spaces that withstand the test of time is a task many have tried to answer to, but few have succeeded. Architect Martin Terziev is one of them.

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MONEY FOR NOTHING

Ahead of the general election scheduled for 4 April, which is expected to generate a record-low turnout owing to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Boyko Borisov's chief prosecutor, Ivan Geshev, conducted a number of spectacular busts with an obvious potential for publicity. He cracked an alleged ring of spies for Russia, including some senior officials in the Defence Ministry and in various other state agencies. The group, according to the prosecution, sold sensitive military information to Russia – and received payments from the Russian Embassy.

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TO VOTE OR NOT TO VOTE?

One of the topics debated in what was an exceptionally tepid election campaign was how Bulgarians abroad should be enabled to vote. Bulgarians, like the French and the Italians but unlike the Danes and the Irish, can vote in general elections regardless of their permanent place of abode.

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BULGARIAN HORROR

As you drive up the progressively deteriorating road through the Balkan mountains the scenery changes. From the flats of the Lower Balkan fields northwards you enter an increasingly menacing landscape of steep hills and rocks, with what is known as the Trans-Balkan Railway line (cutting the Balkan mountain range from Stara Zagora in the south to Gorna Oryahovitsa in the north) meandering alongside a tiny river. Then, about 10 miles north of Dabovo, you take a steep road that was once asphalt.

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FEELING THROUGH

Dr Iliyan Ivanov and Dr Dana Prodanova, a family, emigrated to the United States in the late 1990s. Dr Ivanov, who has recently become a professor, is a child psychiatrist at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York while his wife, Dr Prodanova, runs a successful dental practice in midtown Manhattan. The couple is an associate producer of Feeling Through, nominated for an Academy Award in the Short Film category.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

No idea what the prime minister meant. Development of a Bulgarian Covid-19 vaccine is in its early stages.

Dr Angel Kunchev, Chief Health Inspector

A large facility indeed, but it will make veterinary vaccines... that have nothing to do with Covid-19.

Academic Bogdan Petrunov, immunologist

In Bulgaria freedom of speech is so free (sic) that it is incomparable to that in other countries.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov

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BULGARIA'S MANY CAPITALS

Over the centuries after Bulgarians settled in the Balkans, they moved capital more than once – sometimes for political reasons, sometimes for strategy, sometimes out of despair. Some of these places became the beating heart of a state commanding vast territories. Others were the seats of ambitious lords trying to carve their own place out of a contested political map. Here is a list of the most important and interesting official and alternative Bulgarian capitals, in chronological order. They cover, in broad strokes, some 13 centuries of Bulgarian history.

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INTRODUCING MARTINA FEENEY

Martina Feeney arrived in Bulgaria in October 2020, but owing to the Covid-19 pandemic has been unable to explore the country as much as she wants. At a time when governments in Europe discourage international travel it makes little sense to propagate the virtues of Bulgaria as a tourist destination, but that, hopefully, will one day change. So Martina, who has vast experience as an Irish envoy at the OSCE and the United Nations in Vienna, in Germany as well as in the Middle East, prepares for that day by getting herself acquainted with all material she can gather about Bulgaria.

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BULGARIAN EASTER EATING

In 1956, Chudomir, one of Bulgaria's finest satirists, wrote in his diary: "Sunday, 6 May. Both Easter and St George's Day, but there are neither roast lamb nor red eggs at home. Traditions are fading away, the nice old feasts are being forgotten, disappearing with our generation." Just a few days before this entry, a young and seemingly harmless politician, Todor Zhivkov, had replaced Stalinist dictator Valko Chervenkov as the head of the Communist Party. The years of Stalinism, with its disregard for traditions and religion, were over, but people had yet to feel the change.

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RUIN BLUES

Why is it that there are places in the world which chime with us, even if we've never been there before? While others make us ill at ease, in some subtle but incurable way not unlike a dysfunctional relationship. When I was in my late teens, our family emigrated from Sofia to the south island of New Zealand. It was immediately obvious that we had landed in the world's most beautiful landscape, which is why it felt perverse to feel as disconnected as I felt from the start.

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ON THE ROAD TO SUCCESS

Quality education is one of the key factors that guarantee a good professional and personal future. No-one is contesting this fact. However, when the topic which education can be considered good is mentioned, the opinions start to differ.

Of course, by no means we can underestimate the role of the traditional system of education. From nursery and kindergarten to university it models the lives of children, teenagers and young adults, and defines their everyday life, their basic literacy and the fields in which they specialise in order to become good professionals.

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SPACE AS AN OPPORTUNITY

In the past year, for obvious reasons, we pay more attention to the spaces we inhabit, to how healthy they are and how they make us feel in them. It may be a new home, a complete transformation of an old one, or design of an office or a public space, but it is the same: today we are more sensitive towards what we want to achieve as an end result, to the ambience we want to create for ourselves and the others, to how it reflects on the environment. In short, in the 2020s good interior and good architecture mean much more than seeking pure functionality.

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THE AGE OF TRANSPORTATION

When a year ago the global pandemic turned the life of humanity on its head, we realised how dependent we were on regular supply of fuel, food, medicines and other essential goods and resources. Until then we had accepted as normal that we would be able, on a whim, to buy South American exotic fruit at the supermarket or to order online clothes, gadgets and not-that-essential knick-knack from thousands of kilometres away. The pandemic opened our eyes about how complex and huge the network of global and regional trade has become.

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