TAL Engineering had the pleasure to interview arch. Svetoslav Stanislavov, CEO of architectural bureau STARH
TAL Engineering: Arch. Stanislavov, your buildings have a distinctive and recognisable design. Do you consider the façade as an independent element of the design of a building?
Arch. Svetoslav Stanislavov: On the contrary. I believe that a building should be a holistic organism, a complete structure that works in sync. As a starting point in the creation of a harmonious and complete architecture, our creative search always starts from the function of the building and ends with the façade. Don’t get me wrong – we don’t follow any protocol or system, for us it’s a creative process of finding the best solution for a particular building. The façade is not an end in itself, it is part of the whole idea and is subordinated to the functional features of the building, not vice versa. Our buildings are recognizable because of the aesthetics and the attention we pay to their creation. Façades, as part of the whole architecture, are generally accessible to the observer and most strongly influence one’s emotions and perceptions.
TE: Can it be said that façades follow trends? If so, what are they in the different categories of buildings and how does your studio express these trends? Do you follow them at all or do you try to create your own?
SS: We live in a time of technological and informational progress, in which we can monitor the development of each area in which we work almost in real time. Architecture is no exception. The world’s major architectural platforms with audience of millions of people determine the quality of aesthetics and trends that inevitably affect, for better or worse, all of us. It is normal to be influenced by these processes and the big names, but as I said earlier, we perceive architecture as art, as a search process in which we leave a trace of our own aesthetics and individuality. Our own approach is to be bold, to dream and to create buildings that only few dare to make for fear of stepping out of their comfort zone. We are a studio that dares to work with innovative, not yet tested in Bulgaria materials and to impose them successfully.
TE: Building B73 is one of the most innovative buildings not only in Sofia but also in Bulgaria at the moment. TAL Engineering made a façade in a radius, which required bending of the façade profiles and glazing, as well as installation of complex shapes of solid surface material. In the price / quality / aesthetics equation, when deciding on façades, which part prevails when you want to achieve an extravagant façade?
SS: B73 is a bold and different building that does not need a beautiful story to be perceived. The beautiful story is the building itself. I am glad that such a building can be realized in Bulgaria. Of course, this is possible only because all participants in the process of creating this building are dreamers, great perfectionists and admirers of the beauty, innovation and aesthetics of free geometry, which bequeathed us the phenomenal Zaha Hadid. The façade of B73 is the most complex we have designed, because of the elegant and clean line we wanted to achieve. The façade is like a Picasso drawing with one line – you have no right to make a mistake, it must be perfect. I will not bore you with details of the physical execution process but will say that façade engineers and contractors are virtuosos, without whom architects like me cannot realize their ideas. TAL Engineering, Soliform, Bigla Detail, Bigla III, Reynaers Aluminium, Guardian. Let us not give the false impression that the architect, no matter how brave, can determine for himself how far he can go in his ideas. In this building, as in all others, it is the investor who determines the overall direction, the budget limit and the entire assignment. If we, as architects, manage to create from these frameworks a project that the client recognizes as his own, then the price-quality-aesthetics equation is solved with great ease. Such was the case with B73. Let there be more investors like Boris Shalev and Krassimir Shalev.
TE: If we accept that finances along with regulations are a major factor in the orientation in the design of a façade, what are the factors that give rise to the need in the architect to make the façade in a certain way? Which is more important for you – to create buildings that are clearly visible or that merge with the environment?
SS: A good architect is a combination of many universal skills and knowledge that accumulate over the years. This knowledge at some point turns the constraints in a project from a negative to a starting point for creating something different and unique. Someone had said that the hardest thing was to start with a white sheet of paper. And this is true until you realize that in fact this process of searching for the truth is the most beautiful thing in the work of an artist. Each project is different and the approach to it is individual. When there is a context that is interesting and meaningful, we comply with it, but in any case I would prefer the buildings we create to have their own character and to evoke positive emotions in the observer.
TE: We all spend our lives in and around architecture – at home, at work, in public places. Does society model architecture or does architecture model society?
SS: I really like Ayn Rand’s thoughts, in which he says that an artist is never inspired by the need to serve society – his driving force is his own truth. Creation, not its users and the benefits they derive, is above all. Again, she argues that there is no collective mind, that reason is inherent in the individual. The agreement reached by a group of people is a compromise, the arithmetic mean of individual thoughts. The thought and creative process is performed by the individual. If we accept this as true, it follows that the architecture created by an artist changes society.
Photography: Dian Stanchev