Monday, 21 August 2017

Jacqueline, Tetris or Zhechka: The Beehive of a Building

Alternative Cultural Guide to Sofia*   
Jacqueline is a beauty. She’ll catch your eye with her warm colours and her dynamic silhouette. Built between 2005 and 2008, she is the creation of architects Rositsa and Plamen Bratkovi.

The building consists of a basement with parking spots, a ground level with stores and garages and nine floors of apartments, studios and offices.

It was awarded the “Building of the Year 2008” award in the residential buildings category and a bronze Vizar 2007 – the European Architectural Awards for Bulgarian Architecture. Quite deservedly too.

Jacqueline is located on 58 Bulgaria Boulevard, in one of Sofia’s most prestigious neighbourhoods. It is easily accessible by tram (numbers 7 and 17) and trolley bus (numbers 2, 8 and 9), but if you’re really set on seeing this “beehive” for people, as architect Bratkov calls it, you will also have the motivation to go there on foot.

Some find the building especially avant-garde. Others think Jacqueline is even eccentric. Others still assert that it looks like a pretentious young lady, who stomps her foot and sulks at her admirers, making her “categorically unpleasant.” We find Jacqueline quite cute, as do the inhabitants of the beehive’s boxes, each of which is different and unique, making the building stand out.

According to architect Bratkov, the building’s sound is like that of “talking, buzzing, gurgling of water,” and not so much one of music. A type of a racket, but a peculiar one, different from the surrounding noise of cars, horns and tram rails.

The building was named Jacqueline by the architects, but some call it Tetris – the video game in which blocks of different colours, shapes and sizes fall down and have to be arranged as to make a horizontal line of blocks without gaps. Others refer to it as Zhechka – a Bulgarianised version of Jacqueline. Even though some attitudes towards it are a bit ironic, the important thing is that the building doesn’t allow anybody to be indifferent. And it is surely a more pleasant alternative than the new residential buildings constructed in the indistinguishable, monotone style that spring up around Sofia.

* This story is part of the Alternative Cultural Guide to Sofia. The guide was created by students from Sofia University St Kliment Ohridski. Initiated by associate professor Alexander Kiossev, it was supported by the Sofia University’s Academic Research Fund. The texts, published in Bulgarian by the student magazine Piron, were edited by Lyuboslava Ruseva, and translated into English by




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