DZI Sofia Center – Sofia, Bulgaria - Atlas Obscura

The Sofia center office of DZI (State Insurance Institute) is a corner building that presents a clash of architectural styles.

The building was constructed around 1926 as the head office for one of the first insurance companies in Bulgaria. It was designed in the Secession style with delicate ornaments that conveyed an elegant beauty. The pinnacle of the building’s design is the corner dome that houses a clock. There is a sculpture of a mother with her two children and a beehive next to her feet. The composition evokes the values of prudence and protection, hard work, and care for the next generation. At the time, it was the highest building in Sofia and arguably the most splendid.

Eleven years later, the insurance company commissioned the construction of the “Bulgaria” Complex. This was another building constructed in the same plot, attached to the original building. Although both buildings shared the same owner, they were designed by different architects holding opposite views of aesthetics. Inevitably, both buildings became ideological enemies.

 The “Bulgaria” Complex was a new design rarely seen before. The building combined a hotel, restaurant, and a concert hall large enough for more than a 1,000 visitors under one roof. It’s a modernist masterpiece devoid of ornamental designs. The beauty of the adjoining building was achieved by regular mathematical proportions and the solemn repetition of elements.

A radical decision was later made to strip the old building along the main street of its ornaments. However, along the side street, the original façade was left untouched. Now, half the building shows an ample collection of ornaments while the other side is completely bare. A contrast of the festive and mundane. 

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May 4, 2020

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