The contemporary city is a collection of fake stabilities. All architecture (and consequently each built place) is the embodiment of a set of conceptions. Fake stability describes the condition of colliding ideologies in their built form. Its result is a territory freed of ideological load. This is the urban land of possibilities. It is both strength and weakness. In the urban realm, the fake cohabits with authenticity just as the permanence is measured by the ephemeral.
Mazzocchio’s second issue focuses on the polemic brutal superposition of a new urban vision onto an existing urban tissue. As a result of the second half of the 20th century interventions, the structure of Bucharest has been profoundly affected. Almost 30 years after the Ceausescu regime has ended, #M2 brings into discussion the opportunities embedded into the urban situations where the so-called communist built heritage cohabits with the preceding city in a strange state of fake stability.
As a typical European city, the urban fabric of the center of Bucharest is the result of superposed historical built layers. The last large scale urban intervention was building the locally-named communist housing blocks during the 1970s and 1980s. Demolishing entire strips, totalizing about 10000 houses and 30 churches among other cultural edifices[i] of the previous city, allowed a continuous rhizome of new generic boulevards to enforce the image of the communist regime. The boulevard's other face was ignored, towards the historic city: urban wounds have appeared and the low rise continuity of the city has been obstructed by walls of 9-10 levels of apartments. The generic boulevard, intended as a mixture of modernization and ideological representation, became a Corridor fracturing the city. What remains today is a built heritage which acts as a fundamental structural part of the city, with problems and opportunities of its own. As a visible part of the urban landscape, the Corridors shape both the city's objective imagery and its mental map; as infrastructure they contain the main circulation arteries, concentrating here private and public transport, commerce and provoking functional mix.
As an XL urban form, today the Corridors represent the counterpart of a mosaic of individual owners each inhabiting his own apartment. During the Ceausescu regime, the state led a wide politics of building housing blocks; people were offered the single choice to move in as tenants. After the 1989 revolution, the state decided to allow people to buy for very low prices the apartments they were inhabiting[ii]. As an outcome, the present situation is that these collective housing blocks have a huge inertia when coming to decision making, such as rehabilitation. The fact remains that an enormous puzzle of private properties have an important say in the structuring of the collective environment. Dealing with the outdated state of these apartment blocks heritage is an imperative confrontation both from the urban point of view and from the residents perspective. The number of population living in such buildings[iii] is overwhelming.
The administrative structure of Bucharest into districts dividing the city into 6 slice circle districts does not encourage a profound, holistic approach of this visible urban problem. What appears as a fracture inside the urban tissue is receiving fragmented solutions both spatially and from the content point of view. The general perception is that the Corridors are outdated limits fragmenting the city into segregated parts. What needs to be done is seize the reservoir of opportunities embedded into the Corridors and act.
Accepting the existing situations as poetic reservoirs / rather than trying to solve – cure urban wounds.
Reality is defined as problematic when it lacks the instrumental ideals.
Utopia is problematic when it doesn’t aknowledge the set of values that fuel reality.
The ideals of the city have both a past and a future.
M 2: Utopia as instrument
“Fake Stability” was a 2015 one-semester student project[iv] that aimed to generate proposals of rehabilitation of this specific type of urban fracture, as a key tool in the sustainable urban and architectural redefinition of the city's center: in terms of urban identity, public space, residential comfort and production. By responding to a series of thematic utopian superpositions, the student teams researched by design the richness of the opportunities embedded into this site-specific situations.
M 2: C o n t r i b u t i o n s
The M2 contributions echo the above-mentioned academic research: a series of student projects will be alternated to the perspectives of the critique guests of our studio: Dan Dinoiu, Dragos Dordea, Irina Melita, Radu Ponta. The debate is also being shaped by stances offered by professors Adalberto del Bo from Politecnico di Milano, Ivan Kucina from Dessau International Architecture Graduate School and Emil Burbea and Stefan Simion, professors in our UAUIM studio and authors of the research thesis of this student project; with a special contribution from Yona Friedman – an excerpt from the interview granted to StudioBasar.[v]
[i] During the Ceausescu regime, a total surface of 450 hectares had been demolished; See more at: http://www.dela0.ro/Urmele-Ceausimei-Blocurile-destinate-sa-influenteze-modul-de-viata#sthash.c5bgV764.dpuf
[ii] according to the 'Homeowners Associations' survey led by The Institute of Social Economy, 98,2% of the so-called conventional houses are in private property; see: http://www.ies.org.ro/asociatiile-de-proprietari-de-locuinte
[iii] http://www.pmb.ro/orasul/date_istorice/epoca_contemporana/econt.php 'The 1992 census in Bucharest (three years after the fall of Communism) recorded a number of 109194 blocks with 760.751 flats and a total of 1.803.635 and rooms, adding up to an area of over 46.1 million square meters of housing (34.3 square meters per apartment)'
[iv] Studio of professor E.B.Popescu, Stefan Simion, Emil Burbea, Silviu Preda; 3rd year of study of the academic year 2015-2016 / Irina Meliță is co-author of the research thesis of this student project.