The ruins of the former warehouse for tobacco fermentation, Isaccea, July 2018
Is Oldness a value in itself?

C r i s t i    B ă d e s c u

There was only one last climb left until I would reach my first pit-stop of that day. I had embarked on a one-day bike trip roaming through a small, unassuming city sitting on the shores of the Danube. My father’s old bike seemed to crumble under the saddle as I was struggling to reach the top of the hill – it was not necessarily a good bike, but it had emotional value, or so I would always tell myself, as if expecting that to be enough of a quality to propel me past the tranquil scenery of the Dobrogea Mountains.

The city revealed itself in all its quasi-rural glory, mostly as I expected it to look like - and yet, one element was off. The carcass of an industrial building towered over the landscape, detracting from its surroundings through its sheer size. As I was approaching it for further examination, nostalgia kicked in. Its derelict state made me wonder about feasible life scenarios of its past inhabitants – a romance between a sailorman and a local girl, a ship bringing riches from far away, a soldier hiding from enemy fire. Enchanted by my discovery, I summoned up the courage to ask a local fisherman about the history of this building.

‘Excuse me, I was just wondering - how long has this building been sitting like this for?’ I asked, ’50 years or so, I presume?’

‘Oh, the building has been sitting here since 1886 but it’s been looking like a ruin for only a couple of years now. It had just received a fresh coat of paint when it caught fire - and then everything just got stolen afterwards.’

Hearing this suddenly broke the self-induced spell I had been under. It was not sailors or weepy lovers who last resided behind these walls. It was, in actual fact, young men swiping left on Tinder and drivers listening to the latest radio hits in their trucks. The building still had its age, and its crumbling walls, and its missing windows – and yet, it just was not the same anymore.

Disheartened, I resumed my bike trip. The chain dropped for the 15th time that day. Perhaps, just as it was the case with the run-down building, the stories I had saturated it with were just not enough.

 

 

Cristi Bădescu is a Year 6 architecture student at the “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest. He is currently undergoing research for his Diploma Project on the site of an abandoned warehouse formerly used for tobacco fermentation, located in the city of Isaccea, in Tulcea county