CONSTRUCTOR:eng. Ilya Alashki
GENERAL CONTRACTOR:Walltopia AD
ARCHITECT:arch. Vasil Sharlanov
The story behind
Walltopia is the Bulgarian example of the “American dream” coming true, founded in 1998 today Walltopia is the world leader in the design, engineering, production and installation of climbing walls and adventure attractions. Now, almost 20 years later, the company’s portfolio now consists of around 2000 projects in more than 50 countries on 6 continents.
The fast company development in the last few years along with the revenue increase with about 30% on a yearly basis demanded that we move into “a new home”. So in the fall of 2012 we initiated an international architectural contest who ended up being the biggest architectural contest that had ever taken place in Bulgaria and probably the most impressive one on the international scene for 2012-2013. 566 teams from 79 countries took part in the contest and we received entries from 369 of them from 63 different countries.
The jury with members: arch. Райнард Йокс (Foster + Partners), arch. Georges Heintz (Heintz Kehr et associes), arch. Paul de Vroom (DKV Architecten), arch. Helle Juul (Juul | Frost Arkitekter), arch. Andrew Yeoman (Tower 151 Architects), arch. Andrey Chernikhov (Chenikhov Studio), arch. George Stanishev (Projects GS), arch. Atanas Panov (LP Group), arch. Aneta Vasileva ( WhAT Association), arch. Vasil Sharlanov (Walltopia) and Mr. Ivaylo Penchev (CEO Walltopia) had the challenging task to sift out the best entries.
After one-on-one meetings with all five finalists, the winning entry was the one by arch. Nevile Mars who then proceeded to work along with the Walltopia team and develop the concept.
Sofia Tech Park is a project that has the ambitious aim to gather the most innovative companies in Bulgaria into one place where they would be able to create and develop new products, exchange experience and share high-tech labs and technology. In the beginning of 2014, Walltopia invested in the park and began a part of the concept.
The name of the building - Collider Activity Center - the place that “collides” many activities and active people, with a reference to the Large Hadron Collider (the particle accelerator in Cern) is not a coincidence - the CEO and co-founder of Walltopia, Ivaylo Penchev studied theoretical physics.
One of the things that impresses, considering the whole architectural look is the building’s point-driven shape. That is why it was important to highlight the building’s silhouette, which fits with the company's determination to conquer new peaks. Another important component of the project is, of course, the climbing center, which is the "heart" of the entire building. It is housed in three large atriums, which divide the building’s southwest and northeast facades, and clearly indicate the building’s main entrances. The three atriums have glass roofs, which allow natural light into the innermost parts of the building.
Another desired outcome is the incorporation between the climbing area and the offices so they have a direct view to the climbing atriums and each office area is connected to the other by a bridges passing through the atriums. In this way climbing becomes the unifying and connecting unit of the entire building.
Last but not least, it is worth mentioning the rooftop garden, which is a natural extension of the green crowns of the trees in the park.
In regards to the façade it was chosen a solution made entirely of structural glazing, which gives maximum space and visibility to the offices by placing a three-layer glass package with high selective glass which protects from overheating during the summer. In addition, the slope of the building itself from the south helps to the office floors being shadowed by the high summer sun.
In order to keep the idea of triangular fragmentation of the façade that resembles Walltopia's climbing walls, we have left a visible metal structure over the glass layer of the facade.
In addition to the sports and entertainment center, Walltopia's office space and R&D center coexist with other companies working in the field of technology and IT industries.
The functional distribution of the building is divided into an underground parking garage, ground floor, mainly with public functions and offices on the floors above. Besides the climbing gym on the ground floor there are also a restaurant Raffy, coffee shop Morro and a bank office of CiBank, which are all a great and useful addition to the building, supporting the offices.
As a longterm partner of Teach for All, an NGO working for improvement of the quality of Bulgarian education, Walltopia has granted for free a part of the ground floor for their central office.
The next two floors feature the offices of the two largest German IT companies: Software AG and SAP, while third and fourth levels houses the main office areas of Walltopia.
Due to the slope and the shape of the building, the upper floors are gradually decreasing and the fifth floor only houses the office of the CEO of Walltopia, and the last sixth level is a panoramic roof top with an infinity pool.
To this date, there are over 700 people working in Walltopia’s new home and at the end of the day the pleasure of working in a building that we have imagined, designed, and built ourseleves, as well as seeing it evolve and improve every day is worth it.