Beyond Borders Summer School heads to Bulgaria

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.

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.

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