Looking to the future with architect Valeri Gyurov
Valeri Gyurov is one of those positive people who are always full of interesting and unusual ideas and whims of any type. An architect with extensive and diverse experience, who always strives to transform his environment into something more beautiful, more meaningful and more functional by showing everyone that the main thing we need in order to feel better at the place where we live, is just a little imagination. Success Stories Magazine invites you to join our conversation with him.
Architect Valeri Gyurov:
I was born in Sofia in 1982 and grew up in a family of primarily engineers (father, grandfather, uncle) which was the reason why I was touring building constructions and concrete plants since I was very young. Fortunately, I wasn`t good at mathematics and there wasn`t a real danger to follow this path. At the end of high school I decided to study architecture after I became also keen on graffiti, as I saw these two things as good options to change the environment that excites me as a typical city boy. I hadn`t any time to prepare myself for exams for University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Sofia. I managed to qualify for Engineering design at the Technical University as an insurance against military service at the age of 18, but in the same time I had been accepted at several German universities, so I went to Stuttgart to study architecture in 2001.
Until recently you were one of the main responsible persons in Transformers Association and CEO of Urbanik – a company for inspiring and sustainable urban design. What would you share with us about this stage of your proffesional path? What did it give you and what made you decide that it was time for the next step in your career?
Yes, right after my graduation I got back to Sofia and I worked in the office of architect Stanishev for nearly a year, where also the global financial crisis caught me in. I left voluntarily and at the end of 2009 I founded the association “Transformers” together with some associates. The seven active years in the association, including last year as a CEO of URBANIK gave me very valuable experience and many lessons learned, because we did everything ourselves and most often the hard way. We went through all sorts of projects and I don`t believe that there is another studio in our country that could boast with such a variety of topics, scales and challenges.
Anyway I needed a change and a reboot so as from April this year I am taking on the thorny path of freelance and we’ll see where it will take me:)
At the same time I hope the Association, Smart Fab Lab, URBANIK and the Laboratory for urban design, that we created, to continue their successful development without my active participation at this stage.
You have different participations in various initiatives – for example, at the end of the last year, you were one of the mentors in a competitive online platform for innovative ideas on various public topics, which would contribute to positive change in the country and recently you have participated as an expert for Bulgaria in the European Prize for Urban Public Space competition, in Barcelona, Spain. What impressions did you gather during your stay there?
The participations in side projects and activities have always been important to me because they diversify and enrich my everyday life, and I think also myself. The good news is that lately there are increasingly more active people and organizations, because when we were starting the stage was definitely much more lean out of ideas and activism. I hope that the teams from the “Ideynik” (AM: a place for ideas gathering) competition, organized by association “Tuk-Tam” (AM: “Here and There”,) will find strength and support to realize their ideas.
The invitation to nominate projects with Ljubo Georgiev from One architecture week was an honor and a pleasure for me. We were able to select 15 worthy projects from Bulgaria, and I hope that also others have joined spontaneously in the contest to represent our country nobly in this prestigious competition.
Meanwhile, I joined and helped also a very cool initiative for the improvement of Perlovska river named Rechno Storeno (AM: wordplay in Bulgarian – Recheno storeno = said&done; Rechno storeno= River done). So soon, I believe, positive things will be heard also about this great project.
What is the next step in your development as an architect?
I have decided to try the taste of the independent practice before looking for a work in a team or another studio because I felt that it was time for new challenges and responsibilities.
I somehow believe in the 7-year cycles in human life, so there was naturally a pressing need in me for change.
I want to see how far my strengths, powers and abilities will reach, perhaps a little typical architecture wouldn’t do me wrong. I love small tasks very much and I like putting them to quality detail.
What are your other passions besides the architecture?
I love to travel, especially to places and countries that are unknown to me. Besides that I still write and paint quite actively in urban and suburban environment, so I hope that from now on I can continue to spend more time and energy on these activities as well.
Would you share with me a little bit more about another project you participate in – the website SOCMUS?
SOCMUS is something like our social debt to society and history. We started this project together with Nikola Mihov and Martin Angelov in 2011, driven only by enthusiasm and the desire to preserve the treasures of the Bulgarian graphic design from the time of socialism, not because we are longing for that time, we haven’t even felt it consciously, but simply because this is a period in which there were made many valuable things and these by hand! We want to make a foundation and act seriously also on this front and we hope to find strength and more followers to be able to go also here to higher levels.
What other surprises are you preparing for us?
I am still thinking of the name that I will work under in the future. I am renovating my family garage into working place so there will be definitely surprises.
In June 2015 you participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program, which took place in the US, where you spent almost a month. Can you explain to our readers a little bit more about it and the experience that you gather from it?
That was certainly the experience of the year for me and an extremely valuable one. I’m deeply grateful to Richard Damstra who nominated me to participate in this program on behalf of the US Embassy in Bulgaria. Within three weeks I, together with a group of 16 other experts from various fields, toured four regional cities – Washington, Pittsburgh, Denver and San Francisco, meeting and discussing with representatives of various sectors like government, NGOs, business, etc. the subject sustainable urban development. We received many positive impulses and inside information from leaders in various fields. Separately, me and the rest of the group became really good friends and as a joke we called ourselves G-17 (due to our number and the different nationalities) and we actively maintain good relationships ever since.
In a world like this, what do you think it means to be successful?
I think it is to feel good about what you do, to leave something valuable and worthy behind yourself, but mostly to be a good person, to have a healthy family and good friends, whom you can count on.
How do you imagine the perfect development of your near and slightly far future?
I want to leave a quality trace behind me in all my projects, no matter what sphere they are in.
The important thing is when you look back not to regret anything. It is clear that it can always be better than the last time, but the important thing is to never knock off the bar, the level yourself.
What inspires you?
Trips, encounters, artifacts I jump into, the environment that surrounds me.
What kind of world do you dream of and what kind of change in people and not only do you think is needed for this to happen?
Specifically for Bulgaria I dream of people becoming more humane and better persons, everything else is a matter of schooling, education and hard work. Globally – to begin to overcome the drastic differences in standards between east, west, north, south.