Plovdiv 2019 European Capital of Culture winning Application project
River of Imagination (text from the official final application book)
While in most cities the river is usually the backbone on which the city’s development is based, in Plovdiv the Maritsa River is not really connected to the cityscape. It is one of the most important elements in Plovdiv’s ecosystem, but the citizens have lost their emotional connection to it. In recent years there have been several projects for infrastructural changes, but none of them has been implemented due to various obstacles – among them property issues. This is why we believe it is high time we started a process of revitalisation of the river and the Adata Island, using culture, art and green innovation. River of Imagination is concentrated on converting these areas into an urban oasis: attractive showcases of European re-cycled and green art, inspiring innovation in cutting-edge technologies, sustainable design, architectural strategies, a place for alternative tourism, educational and socialising tools for improving the relationship between nature and city. The Maritsa River (480 km) is the longest river in the Balkans. It starts from the Rila Mountains and flows through Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece.
The Adata Unlimited project will declare the 90,000 m2 Adata Island an autonomous state of unlimited art and green innovation. It will become a sovereign territory within the city, an open space for creativity, green and site-specific art and architecture with its own eco-policies and infrastructure, legislation, currency (barter of ideas, services, goods, and artworks) and a financial system, as well as its own art and eco police authorities (protecting the clean environment, artistic freedom and independence). ADATA’s citizens will leave no waste and find sustainable, nature-inspired ways to create.Implementation phases of the project:
In 2015 our partners from Wasteland Twinning will start researching and archiving Adata wasteland narratives, focusing on the island’s historical past when it used to be a recreational space for Plovdiv’s citizens;
From 2015-2017 the accessibility of the island will be given through boats, rafts, and the construction of eco bridges, all of which will be based on respect for eco-system diversity. Launched in cooperation with the local architecture studio 8 ½ and the Association for Building with Natural Materials a process for restoration/creation of cycling and jogging paths, active/residential zones will begin. The ecological footprints will be monitored by nature-conservation NGOs such as Za Zemiata (Friends of the Earth, Bulgaria) and Green Balkans.
From 2017 to 2019 a team of European ecologists, botanists, landscape architects and designers will work on the creation of permanent eco-settlements on the island’s territory. Residential spaces, activity and workshop zones (e.g. an eco-library, organic farm, recycle workshop) will be constructed using innovative and sustainable natural building practices, re-using existing wood and waste material and the existing buildings. An open call will be launched for co-creation projects between designers, architects, scientists and environmentalists, focused on developing self-sustaining power and water generators and a zero-waste management system.
In 2018-2019 in cooperation with various partnering residency, contemporary-art, and architecture platforms (Nosadella.due Independent Residency for Public Art, < rotor >, reSITE) European artists from all disciplines will be invited to become citizens of the Adata Island Nation. They will be able to apply for temporary citizenship and their innovative projects will be assessed by an expert jury. A one-week visa will be issued to all guests and visitors on the island. From April to September 2019 the Adata Island Nation will offer a vibrant artistic programme, attracting Plovdiv’s locals and also visitors to (re)discover the island and the river.
After 2019 the island will provide recreational spaces and activities for people from all ages and backgrounds (alternative eco-tourism, water sports, island activities: farming, open-air exhibitions, cinema and theatre) actively engaging the citizens to maintain and develop the island’s programme.