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The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Center: A Cultural Experiment in Transformation

New into Old as a Cultural Experiment

Reimagining Architectural Competitions and School Assignments for Cultural Revitalization

In an upcoming unique cultural experiment, the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Center in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, is set to explore how architectural competitions and school assignments can be combined to breathe new life into old spaces. This initiative is set to be unveiled during a panel discussion at the 18th International Venice Architecture Biennale on July 1, 2023.

The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Center, named after the renowned artist duo, is planned to be housed in a former textile school spanning 12,000 square meters. The center is the realization of a 32-year-old dream by a group of Gabrovo locals, the birthplace of Christo. The building, which once trained students for the town’s main industry, is now the subject of numerous conversations aimed at decoding and recoding the diverse functions of an exhibition and production site.

The upcoming panel discussion will explore whether an architectural competition could transform the building into a vibrant cultural hub. The conversation will also examine how the culture of competitions could be advanced through a process of gradual learning and invention, rather than one-off events. The aim is to create a balance between what experienced architectural studios can do and what architectural schools can offer, allowing for a broad community’s informed, expert, and intuitive contributions.

The center is currently planning to prototype many of its future functions within the building in its current state, prior to refurbishment. Some functions and their spatial requirements will be confirmed before the competition this autumn, while others will remain open-ended and could become school assignments for architecture students in the following years.

The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Center’s organizational development and architectural competition planning are set to receive technical support from Ramboll Management Consulting through the “Support to New European Bauhaus Local Initiatives” Programme of the European Commission.

Sala Tiziano
Fondamenta Zattere Ai Gesuati, 919
30123 Venice
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