History of Architecture

    The Difficult Return to Normality
    In this context, after 1989, reconnecting Romanian architecture to the European architectural culture has proven to be very difficult, and this is obvious in the evolution of the last decade of the 20th century. The return to the liberal practice of the profession, the representation and protection of the profession in these new conditions, the development of urban planning (and of the related construction regulations), the renewal of the list of historical monuments, of the structures and the creation of a modern legislation for their protection, rebuilding a professional culture, connection to contemporary ideas, critical assimilation of new technologies, etc. are long term actions, therefore ongoing. Moreover, public investment is almost absent, and the private one is still low. Besides housing (individual and small buildings), "minor" architecture, focusing on the interior design of various types of commercial premises, although it is a program of "ephemeral architecture", has gained increasing importance as an area of genuine research and experiment. Also, given the lack of office space and still low investment (however, there have been some constructions, mostly bank subsidiaries, but in general, of poor expressive quality), converting old buildings into offices for new companies is a beneficial concern for the preservation of cities. After fifty years of interruption, the construction of churches has been resumed, bringing a new issue with which the architects were no longer familiar. The issue of the design of the orthodox sacred space remains open, and architects, who have just got in touch with this field, need to negotiate it with the clergy, still excessively conservative.
    In addition, new clients mirror the profile of the communist investor - for whom the architect had become an obedient servant - which makes dialogue difficult. Given the circumstances, most projects and constructions do not have enough substance yet or continue the inertial decorativeness of the preceding period; therefore, interesting buildings are scarce (many of them remaining in the design stage), and, most often, small-scale. We should mention the achievements of Prodid workshop (Şerban Sturdza, Radu Mihăilescu, Mihai Zegrea, Doina Sturdza, Ivănescu and their collaborators): the orphanage in Timișoara, the Reformed Church in Vucova, the church of martyrs in Timişoara, various conversions, etc.) which, along with other workshops, such as Ioan Andreescu & Vlad Gaivoronschi (Badea Cârțan market, villas in Timișoara, various conversions etc.), Radu Radoslav (Faculty of Lugoj), Mihai Botescu and others formed around the School of Architecture in Timișoara (reopend in 1990), a regional movement that attempts to reconnect with the discontinued evolution. In Bucharest, the works of Dorin Ștefan’s workshop (BCR subsidiaries in Ghencea, countless projects of villas and conversions), the new Westford workshop, run by Vlad Arsene, who returned from New York (Mindbank, Bucharest), of the team Radu Teacă şi Florian Stanciu, are other directions of mature, refined and original pursuits. They all promise a new development of Romanian architecture into the 21st century.
    But the most important architectural events, which should have a significant impact on architecture and the city, are the two great competitions initiated by the Union of Romanian Architects (reactivated after its decline during Ceaușescu), namely: the systematization of the Revolution Square in Bucharest - 1987 (1st prize: arch. Franz and Marina Echeriu, Innsbruck/Austria), and especially the international competition „Bucharest 2000”, organized with the International Union of Architects in 1986 (1st prize: the workshop run by arch. Meinhart von GerKan in Hamburg, one of the largest and most successful architecture and urbanism workshops in Europe and the world). They open a new path in Bucharest’s development and are the token of the progress of Romanian architecture based on a powerful professional framework.

Ana-Maria Zahariade