Article by Richard Morten. 26 February 2020.
A new architectural investigation gives the Buzludzha Memorial House a clean bill of health.
The first technical survey conducted on the Buzludzha Memorial House since it fell into disuse has returned promising results. From August 2019 onwards, an international team of experts conducted extensive studies on the building’s structure, utilities and surrounding area. Looking at everything from concrete core samples to the monument’s plumbing and central heating systems, the new report concludes that the building is structurally sound, at least partly due to a construction plan and building technologies that were “exceptionally advanced for their time.” The report also concludes that it will be possible to preserve a significant portion of the monument’s mosaic art.
Dr. Rad Stanev, with the Department of Electrical Power Engineering at the Technical University of Sofia, noted that in addition to those technologies available in Bulgaria and the Soviet Union at the time, the construction of the Buzludzha Memorial House “used technological solutions imported from the other side of the Iron Curtain—from countries such as Austria, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan, USA and others.” The monument’s audiovisual system in particular was “extremely innovative,” he says.
The monument’s structural survey was conducted by a team from Sofia’s University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy. By analysing core samples of concrete from Buzludzha, they found a compressive strength that exceeded even contemporary standard requirements for high-quality concrete construction. Professor Bogomil Petrov, head of the university’s Department of Building Materials and Insulations, commented: “the results obtained from the supporting elements of the Buzludzha monument set a record.”
In tandem to the structural investigation, land surveying and engineering company Zenit Geo conducted a complex 3D laser scan, which combined information from more than 7 billion spatial points to allow for the creation of accurate digital drawings and 3D models of the site.
An analysis of the building’s construction materials was completed by a team of conservationists and architects from three universities: the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, the Bern University of Applied Sciences, and the Munch Technical University. Studying the condition of surfaces inside the monument, and paying particular attention to Buzludzha’s mosaics, the team produced an extensive 200-page catalogue of materials.
It has been announced that the final results of this ongoing Conservation and Management Plan for the Buzludzha Memorial House will be made publicly available in autumn 2020. Europa Nostra’s Graham Bell, a member of the advisory committee for the Buzludzha project, commented: “the research done so far proves that the monument can be structurally and technically saved. Тhe next phase of the project will provide feasible parameters for its preservation, to make it not only possible, but realistic and desirable by society.”