Private residential neighbourhoods encircled by a wall or fence and cut off from the public by a remote-controlled or guarded gate are not entirely new in Bulgaria. Both ‘dacha’ and leisure settlements of the communist rulers existed in such enclosed developments on the outskirts of Sofia, in mountain resorts, and on the coast of the Black Sea until the end of the 1980s. After the political change in 1989, new types of walled settlements, similar to gated communities in the U.S., began to spring up in Bulgaria, a result of the dramatic and decisive changes in Bulgarian society that are still very much underway today. Seven gated communities, comprising 78 housing units and six projects that are not yet fully completed create an entirely new social context and a residential landscape in the Sofia metropolitan area, which may indicate future residential desires. Ivanyane, situated on the western periphery of Sofia, and Mountain View Village to the southeast, exemplify the two main types of gated communities which are either self-organized by residents or developer-organized. The reasons why these gated communities were built appear to be very similar to those in other places. It can be expected that the demand for this new type of residential living will continue to increase in Sofia’s urban periphery, but it would be unwise to assume that these developments will necessarily provide a positive context for building a new society.
BulgariaGated communitiesSocial polarizationUrban development