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Beyond Borders Summer School in Bulgaria

Beyond Borders Summer School heads to Bulgaria

29 November 2017

The course was co-led by RIBA Council student member Simeon Shtebunaev, who was inspired to share the knowledge and expertise of the RIBA with young people in Bulgaria.

With support from the RIBA’s Learning team and curator Anna Holsgrove, Shtebunaev structured the summer school around the Beyond Borders brief that formed the subject of this summer’s Architecture Open competition. Young people explored and responded to the physical and social boundaries defining their lives in 1:1 pavilions erected in a public square.

Exhibition gallery pavilion, Beyond Borders Summer School , Bulgaria

Shtebunaev shares his experience:

In 2017, for the second year, an architecture and design summer camp took place at the base of the Foundation Minu Balkanski near Stara Zagora. Seventeen children took part, with ages varying between 10 and 17. The children were tasked with the RIBA 'Beyond Borders' brief, leading them to discover the visible and invisible thresholds defining their daily lives in the summer school.

The clear topic of 'Beyond Borders' focused the children’s ideas and generated many long debates. Some of the borders that were identified varied between literal ones, such as the fenestration of a building or floor joints delineating materials.

Others were more philosophical – the boundary between life and death in a late summer leaf. Undertaking several design exercises, such as drawing their identified borders, the children developed models of proposed pavilions aimed at bridging or emphasising those boundaries.

The culmination was the construction of three different pavilions, each working to connect different users together – a studio, an exhibition gallery and a tourist centre. Recycled materials were used for the pavilions prompting the children to be creative in their construction methods. The result was three pavilions that worked together to push beyond the borders of the school and engage further audiences.

Pavilion, Beyond Borders Summer School, Bulgaria

The children were new to the topic of architecture, and the first day we dove straight into tasks of drawing boundaries and experimenting with materials. The final pavilions were presented on Friday to the whole camp and a reflective discussion and drawing exercise closed the school. The children’s understanding of architecture was rapidly advanced and a particular emphasis was put on working in groups.

Group exercise, Beyond Borders Summer School, Bulgaria

For some of the children this summer camp was their first introduction to architecture - or architects, as was the case for 12-year-old Nikol: 'This was an exciting week for me because it was the first time I met real architects. They helped me take a step further towards my dream of studying architecture'.

Each of the children learned new skills which are essential to the role of an architect: 'I am happy that I can work in a team now and understood some of the secrets of architecture,' said 14-year-old Konstantina.

After the summer camp, 12-year-old Teofania is clear about what she wants to do in the future: 'I would gladly come again next year as my dream is to become a famous architect.'

The school took place between 28 September and 2 October 2017 in the village of Oryahovitza, Bulgaria. Tutors were Manuela Belova, Simeon Shtebunaev and Georgi Mandazhiev.

Find out more about the Balkanski Foundation.

Model, Beyond Borders Summer School, Bulgaria


'This week was an exciting one for me because it was the first time I met real architects. They helped me to take a step further towards my dream of studying architecture. There were a lot of enjoyable tasks such as the models which then became a reality. I learned how to work in a team and met new people that were wonderful. This week we worked on the theme of ‘borders’. We needed to define them and then I realised that boundaries exist everywhere. I spend a lovely time and will come back.'

Nikol Ilucheva, 6th grade, 12 years old

'This week I learned a lot and very interesting things about architecture. With the help of our tutors we worked around the topic of ‘borders’. The most interesting bit was when we started to build our pavilions. There were a lot of challenges but it was very exciting. I am happy that I can work in a team now and understood some of the secrets of architecture.'

Konstantina Hinova, 8th grade, 14 years old

'I spent a wonderful time at the summer camp, I did many different and entertaining things. We drew drawings of borders, collages, models and we built pavilions. I met a lot of new people and we had a lot of fun. I would gladly come again next year as my dream is to become a famous architect.'

Teofania Kozareva, 5th grade, 12 years old

Pavilion detail, Beyond Borders Summer School, Bulgaria

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