History of Architecture

    Architecture after World War Two
    The Second World War interrupted the evolutionary meaning of Romanian architecture not only by the economic and social consequences of a conflagration of such magnitude (interruption of construction, destruction of what had been built, poverty etc.), but - above all - through the major political changes that followed, which produced considerable mutations in architectural production. The proof lies in the fact that the breaking point in the evolution of architecture did not occur immediately after the war, but after the regime change. At first glance, for the vast majority of buildings constructed after the war, it appears that, as it happened almost throughout Europe, the postwar architectural development is roughly circumscribed to the large scale application of modernism in its radical formula and the "consumption of the new language" (or, according to other authors, to the "transformation of the Modern Movement in a style"). However, a closer look reveals a curious development, and its connection with earlier architectural evolution seems lost, just as the idea of synchronization with the evolution of architecture in​​the free world seems to have disappeared as well. Deciphering the logic of the new direction is no longer easy and key moments are unexpected, as they subordinate completely to the changes of local communism, which deprives them of the internal inconsistency that the prewar evolution had undoubtedly proven to possess.
    The fundamental political changes trigger both specific economic and social phenomena, and a radical shift in the way the profession is carried out, which gives characteristic features to postwar evolution. Thus, the establishment of "state socialism", subordinated to Moscow, forced industrialization, central planning, including construction activities (in 1952, the State Committee for architecture, construction and urban planning was established), the general climate of repression, etc. determine the total replacement of private investment by state investment (which results in the disappearance of the order-based regulatory mechanism characteristic of a market economy), abolition of the liberal practice of the profession (which was to be carried out only in large specialized design institutes), replacement of natural professional competition with promotion based on political criteria, forbidding cultural access to the West, etc. All these not only weaken the architectural community (that was rather young anyway) and subordinates professional decisions to a very large extent to political decisions, but also introduce a great deal of arbitrariness, which remains an underlying dimension of architecture in the communist era, still difficult to assess. At the same time, all these are also reflected on a formal level in multiple ways: from changes caused by the economic planning in the types of constructions and scale of investments (some types of programs disappear - for example, the rental property - others are built on a large scale - such as large industrial constructions, economical multi-storey housing, cultural houses, etc.) to political intrusion in the effective way of approaching architecture and the city (political "dictate" on plastic, architectural and urban expression is present throughout the period, in various intensities and shades). Thus, the postwar development of Romanian architecture proves to be more sensitive to political fluctuations than to the development of architectural ideas in the world, becoming - in a way - the history of a professional drama, still insufficiently researched.
    That is why it is difficult to assess "geometrically" the architectural development in this period, strictly form a formal perspective. Of course, in a cautious approach and assessing architectural production in parallel with the evolution of the political context, we can highlight several periods of time during which the evolution of architectural forms follows a certain internal logic: (1) the period of "reconstruction", until the late 1940s; (2) the interlude of socialist-realism, until after the mid-1950s; (3) the period of openness and relative resynchronization, until the first half of the 8th decade; (4) the closure and decline period, until the revolution of 1989; (5) the period of "reconstruction", from 1990 until today. Despite any similarities, the logic of these periods remains distinct from the development of architecture in the free world.

Ana-Maria Zahariade