Interview with architect Angel Zahariev – building NV Tower

TAL Engineering had the pleasure to interview arch. Angel Zahariev, from architectural bureau A&A Architects.

TAL Engineering: Arch. Zahariev, tell us about our latest joint project – building NV Tower, which won a number of awards and quickly became one of the most notable buildings in Sofia.

Arch. Angel Zahariev: NV Tower is a remarkable project. It embodies the latest world architectural and technological trends, making the building a benchmark for future projects of similar scale in the country and the region. The combination of a complex functional program and complex geometry posed a number of challenges for designers and contractors. I’m happy to say the impressive end result is a source of pride for all participants in the project.

We have proved that world-class buildings can be created in Bulgaria, and this is confirmed by the assessment of the specialists and the audience alike. Of course, the efforts to create such a project are enormous, however I believe that with this type of project we are obliged to create new landmarks for the city and the country.

I will try to concisely explain what makes the building remarkable.

NV Tower is the first real multifunctional high-rise building in Bulgaria. It includes: public service area with restaurants, sports facilities, including swimming pool and SPA, medical center, retail outlets, conference center; offices and homes.
The building is very well integrated on the ground floor with the surrounding urban environment; the ground floors are as open as possible, with public green space in front of the building.
NV Tower is the first tall building in Bulgaria with extensive landscaping on façades and roofs. Hundreds of trees and other plants are located along the entire height of the building.
From a technical point of view, this is one of the most complex projects implemented in Bulgaria. The construction of the building includes a huge number of inclined columns, planting a column bearing 16 floors, consoles of 9 meters, steel beams bridging over 30 meters at the top of the building and much more.

The architectural image of the building requires many innovative façade solutions, some of which are applied for the very first time in our country. The complex shape requires thousands of details, the aluminum cladding is composed of three-dimensionally shaped panels, the sloping façade has an integrated opening, on the ground floor there are curved double-glazed windows with massive dimensions.

TE: In the 21st century, the main discussions are around the energy resources of the planet and their optimal use. The façade is the skin of the building and is responsible for creating and maintaining a microclimate in the building, which is a major consumer of energy. Tell us more about this aspect of your design. Are compromises needed, is it difficult to combine energy efficiency and aesthetics, and in the end, which is more important?

AZ: Decisions to increase energy efficiency must be an integral part of the building’s architecture. Just as energy-efficient solutions should not be an excuse for bad architecture, so achieving a certain architectural vision should not be an excuse for poor energy efficiency.

We live in times of serious climate change caused by human activity and the role of the construction sector in overcoming the crisis is great. That is why we need to look for the right solutions for greater sustainability of buildings.

The façade is one of the most important elements when it comes to energy efficiency. It has been proven that investments in improving the energy efficiency of the façade are the most efficient and long-lasting in terms of energy consumption of buildings.

We need to choose systems and materials very carefully, monitor new products on the market and implement their use, make simulations and test real samples, look for the optimal balance between price and efficiency.

Building  NV Tower won the Special Award in the category BUILDINGS WITH ELEMENTS OF GREEN ARCHITECTURE AND INNOVATION in the “Building of the Year” 2021 competition.

TE: Does your initial idea for the Building correspond to the final result and to what extent this is thanks to the company, contractor for the façade – TAL Engineering?

AZ: I am very pleased with our joint work with TAL Engineering on this project. I believe that TAL Engineering is the only company in Bulgaria that can complete such a complex project as NV Tower. Without the precise working design and quality execution of the façade by TAL Engineering, the project would not have been possible.

A huge number of specialists were involved in the process. They all completed an incredible amount of work of very high quality in a very short period of time. We maintained wonderful communication during the design and construction process. We managed to find solutions to many complex cases.

The creation of this type of building is always done with close cooperation between architectural offices and façade companies, there is no other way.

TE: The variety of different details of sheet metal, in combination with the desired vision, made the task of cladding the most challenging for our team. What was the biggest challenge for you and how did you overcome it?

AZ: Absolutely, one of the most complex elements of the building was the design and manufacture of various details of sheet metal cladding. They are a major part of the building’s vision and without them it would not be the same. They emphasize the shape, create a rich level of detail, enhance the dynamic design, in some places have a functional purpose – to hide the technical installations. That is why it was very important to produce them as precisely and qualitatively as possible.

In buildings of this scale it is very important to have a rich detail in the dense parts of the façade, especially in areas close to the terrain, because they are perceived by visitors in the immediate vicinity. We wanted them to both shape the overall image of the building when perceived from afar, but also to give an extra level of detail when we are close to NV Tower. This, of course, complicated the task of designing and making them, but it was important to follow a unified approach to design at different scales.

Modern design tools provide almost unlimited modeling possibilities. At the same time there are still a number of technological limitations in production. The big challenge is to find solutions that are impressive from a design point of view, but at the same time can be produced with the available technologies.

TE: In many cases, the façade is a manifestation of the function of the building inside. Was the façade design a priority over what is happening inside the building and what did you want to provoke in the people who look at it from the outside?

AZ: Function and form are always connected. Perhaps in NV Tower the form stands out because it acts as a unifier of the various functions in the building. At the same time, the various functional areas are reflected and highlighted. For example, the first three levels, which have wider public access, differ from the others, and the residential floors in the upper part of the building are highlighted by the terraces on the façade.

For tall buildings, it is very important how their architecture contributes to the formation of the urban silhouette. Their visibility is much greater than that of a low-rise building and has a great influence on the identity of the city and its perception by residents. Therefore, one should carefully study the different points of view and different distances of perception, to explore different options for height, volume, color, slenderness, etc., and finally choose a solution that would enrich and complement the urban skyline.

In the case of NV Tower, we decided to create an attractive scene of the city against the backdrop of the mountain with the unusual and dynamic image of NV Tower in the foreground. The combination of the human work against the background of the mighty nature is most impressive in the perception of architecture. When the architecture of the building is related to nature, masterpieces beyond time can be obtained. Brilliant examples of this are the Fallingwater house by Frank Lloyd Wright or the two fallen World Trade Center towers against the backdrop of the Hudson River. This logic prompted us to look in the architecture of NV Tower for the connection with Vitosha Mountain and its peaks.

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