Krasimira Zheliazkova Choneva was born on September 23, 1935 in Varna, Bulgaria. Her father, Zheliaazko Maldjiev (b.1901) was an insurance agent and her mother Elena Ivanova Maldjieva (b.1898) was a middle school teacher who moved with her family to Varna from Macedonia after the Llinden uprising in 1903.
Choneva's family emphasized hard work and education, as a result Choneva's brothers attained university diplomas in electronics and technology and her cousins studied architecture. At the encouragement of her family Choneva enrolled in a Construction and Technological High School where she began her study of architecture. In addition to academia, Krasimira participated in sports, specifically swimming, eventually taking second place at a national competition in Bulgaria.
Choneva's professional architectural experience began in 1958 when she started working in the construction office of Varna's ship building industrial complex. The experience cemented her "love and commitment for architecture." In 1959, Choneva's won a draftsman competition in the design organization for the town of Varna.
Choneva worked for this state organization until her mandatory retirement in 1990, calling this period her "university training." The work experience provided Choneva with the opportunity to work with several architects including, Marin Marinov; Simeon Dimitrov; Kosio Khristov; Julia Angelova; Daniel Ognianov; and Philio Ginev on multiple design projects.
In 1961 Choneva married Marin Choveve (b.1932) a conductor of the leading Bulgarian choir "Morski Zvutzu" (The Sounds of the Sea). The choir performed abroad giving her the opportunity to visit multiple countries and familiarize herself with their architecture. "During the years of the 'Iron Curtain' such knowledge gave me considerable advantage," Choneva recalls.
In 1971 Choneva became involved with construction of mass-housing utilizing prefabricated panels. The system developed after WWII in Western Europe and was later imported by the Soviet Union. "Regardless of the persistent endless criticism of prefabricated multi-family apartment housing," Krasmiria insists, "it was justified by the large migration of people from the agricultural sector (small towns and villages) to cities with large industrial developments. The prefabricated system gave to almost all urban dwellers the option to reside in their own apartment with adequate space and sanitary facilities. The modular panels (5.10 meters x 3.60 meters) allowed for functional arrangement of the required spaces. Speedy construction, however, allowed for sloppy finishes and shoddy appearance of the apartment buildings. I am glad to have responded to the societies demand for improved quality and to my personal desire to give the ugly panels a more attractive façade appearance."
In the latter part of the 1980's the Union of Bulgarian Architects (SAB) invited Choneva to join their organization. This was a distinct honor giving Choneva the right to open a private practice after the change in Bulgarian government between 1989 and 1990. Choneva opened a private office where she designed residential houses and apartment buildings for twelve years from 1990-2002.
Choneva had three children, two daughters and one son. Her daughter, Liuliana Marinova Chonevea (b. Oct. 14, 1962) joined her at the practice when she graduated Sofia Polytechnic in 1990. Upon her retirement Choneva transferred the practice to her daughter. Her son Kalin Tchonev (b.1971), also a choral conductor and piano performer, resides in North Carolina.
Found in 1 Collection or Record:
The Krasimira Choneva Architectural Collection includes conceptual and working drawings as well as supporting documents for six projects. The projects range in date from 1958-1994 and were all designed and completed in Bulgaria by Krasimina Choneva. The collection also includes one biographical sketch written by Choneva herself as well as an additional biography written by Milka Bliznakov in 2007.