The photographed building is on George Georgescu Street, at no. 30 now (in the old numbering it was at 72 A and B)
Is the Built Heritage Administrative or Ontological?
V l a d A l e x a n d r e s c u
Confronted to the, sometimes, irrecoverable degradations of entire buildings or parts of the built heritage, you can be overwhelmed by the feeling that they bring evidence of certain unknown regions of the being, of a precise ontological condition different to the one you know. The familiarity of the nowadays inhabitation is questioned by the landscape of other types of forms, which you understand while they’re deteriorating, by acknowledging their condemnation to decay and oblivion.
Ruin becomes visible when the type of inhabitation itself decays, when the human connections and the household organization that occur in such a building become outdated. And so, you are struck by the strangeness of relations that tilt forward from another age, by the plays of life and maybe of language that people who had lived in that house had experienced and put back into that building for a century or two, with consistency and sincerity, being confident that this is their part of reality and authenticity. The architectural style, the artistic components, the coherence of forms, all these speak of anchoring that condition into the history of the neighborhood, into an urbanism and administration of a city more or less functional; by all these you feel you are separated by habits and beliefs.
Of course, property is one of the conditions of restoration, rethinking and refunctionalisation of such buildings. But the law blocks the public administration to contribute to the restoration of a historic monument in private possession. Isn’t this a prejudice that needs to be broken? Beyond inhabiting in such inherited architectural forms, don’t these forms themselves belong to the entire collectivity? Re-appropriating and preserving them – isn’t a duty of the city? The law that stops the city halls to invest in historic monuments in private possession appears to me as petty prejudice that limits the community in its attempt to intervene in the pronounced process of decay. To re-urbanize a monument means to have the strength to break this prejudice and to familiarize people to the idea that those forms , which they see for two hundred years, rightfully belong to them; that that ontological condition, sometimes uncanny, is a part of the leaven they too had been made of.
Vlad Alexandrescu (b. 1965) is an intellectual historian, Professor at the French Department of the University of Bucharest; PhD in Philosophy, École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris, 1995); Dr. habil. (2013). Between November 2015 and May 2016 he had been the Minister of Culture in Romania. Between 2006 and 2011 he had been Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Romania to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Among others: Founder and director of the Research Center “Foundations of Modern Thought” (founded in 2001); Co-founder and co-editor of the Journal of Early Modern Studies (founded in 2012, indexed in ISI Web of Knowledge Emerging Sources Citation Index). Mellon Fellow of the Warburg Institute (London, 2005); Project director at the “New Europe College” Institute for Advanced Study (Bucharest, 2012-2016). “P.G. Castex” prize of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (Paris, 2013) and “N. Bălcescu” prize of the Romanian Academy (Bucharest, 2014).