Bucharest – A City of Contrasts
In 1991 a competition was launched for the building at no. 5 D. Dobrescu Street, severely damaged during the 1989 revolution that led to the fall of the communist regime.
Once an inconspicuous villa of late 19th century, the building housed an annex of the neighboring headquarters of the communist party.
However, it acquired special symbols during the December events: the revolutionaries took over the headquarters of the communist party, Ceausescu fled, the armed clash broke out, and the square buildings were set on fire.
This is how the traces of fire and bullets turned the building into a symbolic witness of the historical events.
The ruined building, a property of the Union of the Architects of Romania since 1990, is located on a 206 sq m lot, yet benefiting of advantageous views and the vicinity of a wide vacant ground, the parking lot of the Senate, the former headquarters of the communist party.
Although the competition aimed to convert the ruined building into the headquarters of the Union of Architects, the theme specified also a possible extension on the adjacent ground.
The analysis of the zone evinced some elements:
1. heterogeneous architectural and urban characteristics;
2. lack of any attractive functions;
3. poor quality of the public space.
The above mentioned features imposed rather an approach of the urban situation than of the object itself, both architecturally and urbanistically.
The project that lasted for more than 10 years lay on these conceptual principles and developed essentially in 3 major stages, somewhat genetically connected.
The last version (2001) focuses on the priorities and necessity to set certain stages in the operation whose completion dragged on.
So, something had to be done about the ruin first, and then about the adjoining ground, if possible.
Hence the major problem of the rephrased project: how could one build a relatively compact volume and preserve the ruin?
Or, how could one avoid the image of the new building overlapping the extant one?
The answer involved two terms:
1. First, one should not think it in 2 terms, the ruin and the new building, but in 3, the ruin, the new building, and the existing built front. Thus, the new building will connect the ruin and the front in D. Dobrescu Street.
2. The new volume has to be visually disengaged from the ruin. If its interior walls are cleaned, the ruin will be a screen presenting the traces of bullets and fire from December 1989; it will function, thus, together with the new volume without touching it.