Is the Supermarket distopic?

L u i g i   P i n t a c u d a

When I started to approach Bucharest almost 10 years ago I was overpowered from the city: a European capital tried to find its own way after a chaotic period.

But could I be sure this chaotic period was ended? Perhaps chaos is a peculiar feature of every cultures crossroads.

For me the very first move was to explore the whole city, without preconception and without any attempt to find a general rule could drive this city through its present to the future. I’ve been finding a lot of different fragments, every one of those useful to describe different aspects of the city. An unfinished city for which big scale project have always been a fail.

After years of study I understood the solution was to find small scale strategies to valorize every fragment and aspect of the city. But at the same time I needed a fil rouge useful to link all these fragments. Something was moving underground; in that chaotic situation a new city hierarchy was growing: which was the engine of this new order?

As every European capital, Bucharest attracts big company head quarters, international brands and money. Even if the city hasn’t a clear strategy all these big companies have got one: they can’t fail in settling inside the urban tissue.

Initially Bucharest could seem the attractor for these new developments, but more and more you go trough its clear how this Supermarket (fed by money) is the main attractor for the city development: roles are clearly inverted.

This phenomenon is equivalent to what in Mathematic is called “Strange attractor”: something can influence the evolution of a dynamic system without intersects it, when the attractor is not defined and ordered it’s called strange attractor.

Drawing the map with all these new settlements and match it with the city development it’s clear how creation of new flows and re-qualification of certain areas over others are its most evident effects. Areas on the borders and abandoned industrial sites become new centres from which the city might restart.

This strange attractor is a city link between the main Romanian infrastructures and part of the Pan-European Corridor IV. It doesn’t affect the centre of the city, which is currently more congested and bad connected with infrastructures.

The main problem is this process can’t build an organic city: only private areas are developed and their new configuration doesn’t affect public spaces, neither their neighborhoods. It risks creating a new layer on a city made of different layers never finished and detached each other.

The free market dream with its money flow becomes a golden jail where city feel itself free even if it’s not. Driving this massive development is hard and it should not be stopped but understood. The role of govern, politicians, designer and researchers will be to understanding how conceive in-between spaces to design an organic city in which every part will be developed in the right way and don’t loose the richness of a so complex city.

In the perspective of Pan-European Corridor VII/Danube we can suppose how it will influence more and more Bucharest. This massive development could be a flywheel for those parts of the city in which hardly new investment will made.

So what we can state is: yes, Supermarket is distopic. But we need to understand how this distopic process could drive a positive, utopic and organic development of the whole Bucharest.

 

Luigi Pintacuda have graduated at the Architecture School of Palermo and he achieved his PhD at Venice IUAV. He is RIBA Chartered Architect and member of the council of the Liverpool Architectural Society.
He has been involved in various workshops, classes and cultural events in different places, among which: Liverpool, Bucharest, Stuttgart, Venice, Palermo and Milan. He was the winner of the “Essay Contest - East Centric Triennale” (Bucarest, 2013) and finalist at “Concorso Giovani Critici - Architects meet in Fuoribiennale” (Venice 2014).
His design and research activity is focused on: architecture and art, conceptual architecture and urban design. He achieved prizes and invitation to expose his projects across Europe.