Networks of De-institutional Architecture: Bulgaria

Work-in-progress exhibition by arch. Ivan Bonev

16 March – 13 April 2023

16 March, 18:00–21:00

Opening hours:
Mondays and Thursdays
and by appointment

free entry

With the support of "Creative Initiatives" and "One-Year Grant" Programs of the National Culture Fund

In partnership with Swimming Pool and Center for Social Vision.

With the support of Filmuniversität Babelsberg, Transformatori Association, Association for City Reading Rooms, Sofia Mountaineering Club, Urban Gardens Sofia, and Sketches of Sofia.

"Networks of De-institutional Architecure" is a research of the non-institutional phenomenon of the common spaces in the city. It tells the story of the places that host people's everyday shared activities and describes little-known aspects of the cities we live in, presenting architecture, behaviour and governance of individual examples and networks of de-institutional spaces.

The concept of de-institutionalizing shared activities and common spaces has been developed by philosophers, sociologists, and critics such as Ivan Illich, Henri Lefebvre, and Elinor Ostrom. Today, de-institutional spaces in the cities are a practical realization of theoretical ideas from the early twentieth century. They are both spontaneous and purposefully sought. They stand out more clearly when cohesive collectives engage in political, economic and social agendas woven into their usual activities. Such projects include shared kitchens, libraries, farm gardens, alternative cinemas, experimental schools, independent cultural centres, interest clubs, workshops, community spaces that are platforms for direct communication and sharing of knowledge and resources between people. Thus, the independence or de-institutionalization of collective spaces is proving to be a sustainable model for bringing together people with common interests.

The study of Bulgarian de-institutional spaces is a follow-up to "Networks of De-institutional Architecture: Tokyo". It applies the same approach and methodology to select and analyse the spaces. In addition to a complex analysis of the spaces themselves, it allows for a comparison between two contexts – the big cities of Bulgaria and the megalopolis of Tokyo, Japan. The exhibition is a platform to complement and refine the research that is shown in progress in order to evaluate the approach and the collected case studies.

Further events, discussions and conversations within the exhibition will be announced here and on Swimming Pool's social media.
Author: Ivan Bonev
Exhibition design: Ivan Bonev, Victoria Paeva
Graphic design: Victoria Paeva
Editing: Galabina Zaharieva


Ivan Bonev is an architect and architectural researcher currently based in Sofia (Bulgaria). He has acquired his architectural training in the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Sofia (2007-2014), KU Leuven – Sint Lucas School of Architecture in Brussels (2012-2013), and Tokyo Institute of Technology (TIT) in Tokyo (2017-2019). He is a member of Transformatori Association which is engaged with urban research and community building projects. He has worked in Europe and Southeast Asia in collaboration with Atelier Bow-Wow (JP) and Zoom Studio (BG) amongst others. He is the author of “Networks of De-institutional Architecture: Tokyo” and has contributed to publications of TIT, MIT, academic journals and independent issues.

In 2021–2022 Bonev was a mentor in the first edition of the Center for Social Vision and subsequently a participant in its public program “Negotiation”.