Mark Byrnes is a former senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
One photographer's "alternative photo guide" to the city of Sofia.
History, thousands of years worth of it, can be found in Sofia. Surrounded by examples of architecture that represent the Bulgarian capital's past, Nikolay Nikolov is fixated on the buildings that might seem to say the least.
In a project the photographer calls "Minimalistic Sofia," Nikolov documents his long walks around the city. The project, he says, is "provoked by the loneliness and the monotonous lifestyles in the city."
On his site, Nikolov describes his work as "an alternative photo guide of the city." Looking for scenes where geometric urban design elements dominate the frame as a stray person or dog walks by, his photographs capture the ways everyday Sofians interact with their surroundings.
Some photos on Minimalistic Sofia show the city's post-Communist rebuilding efforts. But Nikolov often ends up in Sofia's suburbs on his walks, many of which were built under Communist rule. In these communities, you can still find plenty of panelki (what Bulgarians call their concrete-paneled apartment towers), built as the city grew outward and its population more than doubled between 1944 and 1989.
These buildings appear plain on the surface, but Nikolov's photos coax out the important stories they tell about Sofia's past.