Lonely Planet Writer

Visit this charming street library in the Bulgarian city of Varna

A talented young team of architects and designers have come together to create ‘Rapana’, a street library in the Bulgarian city of Varna. Passing members of the public are invited to pop in and browse the library’s collection, momentarily removing the distraction of their mobile phones. “Nowadays, young people’s lives are almost entirely based around the digital era”, says Boyan Simeonov, one of the library’s creators. “This decreases the popularity of books among this generation. We decided to do what we can to partly solve this issue, by building a street library.”

Members of the public are invited to browse the library’s books. Image by Rapana

The team chose Varna, a charming coastal city on the east coast, as the setting for their project. “Varna is located on the seaside, and is often called the ‘marine capital of Bulgaria’. That’s the main reason why the chosen concept shape of the library resembles the shell of a sea snail; the design was inspired by nature and its organic shapes. The installation takes into consideration the most important aspects of the city’s identity – the sea and its value to Varna’s citizens. The abstract construction unravels from a single focal point and develops into a semi-circle, while creating a public space and shelves for placing books at the same time.”

The design resembles the shell of a sea snail. Image by Rapana

The team experimented with innovative technology when it came to building the library. “Rapana was designed using the parametric design tools Rhinoceros 3D and Grasshopper, which give architects the possibility of trying different shapes. Using the software, the team tested over 20 variations, changing the number of vertical and horizontal wooden pieces, as well as their width and height. We ended up with the final design, fitting the budget and the open library’s concept, providing easy access for the readers, sitting spaces, plus a tiny stage for street artists and lounge sessions. The street library was built using 240 wooden pieces and the full capacity of the library is 1500 books.”