case study 85 -1

Dimitar Yablanski's house was built in 1906-1907 under the project of the Austrian architect Friedrich Gruenager.

The House of Dimitar Yablanski was built in 1906 – 1907. The owner was a wealthy man – financier who graduated in Paris, mayor of Sofia and later a minister of Building, Roads and Public Works. Moreover, as his social status requires, he commissioned the project of his house to one of the most famous architects in Sofia in the beginning of 20th century – the Austro-Hungarian architect Friedrich Grünanger. The architect was also the artist of the King’s Palace in Sofia, the Ecclesiastical Seminary, Jewish Synagogue, private houses and mansions. His task was to design for Yablanski a small palace and he did it brilliantly. The house has a very rational plan and a facade in the spirit of the Baroque style. The Austrian sculptor Andreas Greis richly decorated the balconies, windows and oriels. The building is one of the best creations of Grünanger. A proof for this is that after his return to Austria he made a copy of it for himself and lived there until the end of his life. In 1944 the house was nationalized and used as the embassy of the People's Republic of China until 1991. Today the house is in the heart of the city – right next to the building of the Parliament, Sofia University and Alexander Nevski Cathedral. From 1991 until 2009, after its restitution and after several changes of owners, the building is practically self-demolishing.

The first time I went to see the house, workers were already pouring strengthening concrete walls. The signs of the found decay were still visible – slabs with large openings in danger of collapsing, cracked walls, crushed wooden paneling and wood-carving railings, missing marble fireplaces and crystal mirrors, richly decorated gypsum ceilings in bad condition. Nevertheless, behind all destruction one could still see the spirit of the building and the beauty of the spaces.

After renovation – the house in its full brilliance