Houses without faces and faces without houses. Or how to destroy a heritage and keep people happy

Text: Ștefan Ghenciulescu
Photo: Tudor Prisăcariu, Ștefan Tuchilă, Ștefan Ghenciulescu

It all looks like a movie set gone crazy. You walk down the streets and alien constructions emerge behind some walls with cherubs and capitals. Or, conversely, familiar buildings seem to have undergone very bad plastic surgery, that shaved off layers of their skin and have irretrievably damaged their faces.

Switch House vs Schaudepot | Tate vs Vitra. Looking at two recent Herzog & de Meuron works

Text & Photo: Laurian Ghiniţoiu

The beginning of June 2016 was marked by the opening to the public of two buildings by Herzog & de Meuron: Switch House—an extension of The Tate Modern, and the Schaudepot at Vitra Campus, a new exhibition space for the Vitra furniture collection.
The opportunity to document the New Tate was a good reason for me to be revived by the noisy London, and Very shortly after, more by chance than for a precise purpose, I happened to visit Vitra, 2 years since my last time there.

Stories from Bucharest-South #2 Vitan

Text: Mihai Duțescu
Photo: Andrei Mărgulescu

Unlike Rahova or Berceni, or other neighborhoods with clearly defined boundaries, Vitan – at least the way I see it – is a large nebula. Rather than a delimited territory, it’s a neighborhood where mythology beats materiality by far, where abstractions are more consistent than the actual physical features of the place. Perhaps because, after Ceaușescu’s bundle of demolitions of the old historical fabric developed along the commercial Vitan/Dudești roads, there was almost nothing left, the new chunk of the city which has been placed in its stead has nothing special.

The sea in one drop. International competition awards at the 2016 Timişoara Architecture Biennial BETA

Text: Levente Szabó

The Romanian Order of Architects, Timiș County Branch started an exciting venture in 2016 by organizing a series of regional events, which – not only for actors shaping the architectural public life in the narrow region – provided an example of what openness, curiosity of each other’s best practices and the willingness to cooperate might mean, particularly when these efforts are strengthened by a professional program organizing.

Continuing a traditional architecture. Church of the Psychiatry Hospital in the village of Voila, Romania

The project for Church of the Psychiatry Hospital in the village of Voila does not copy images, interpreting instead a spatial and structural logic

Project & text: Ana-Maria Goilav Guran
Photo: Costin Gheorghe, Emil Cosma

Building a new town (amidst the old one). New Oberhausen: a positive and subversive project

Text: Stefan Ghenciulescu
Foto: Rainer Schlautmann, Sebastian Asiedu

Which things make a city? But what about a good city? In September, a dragon, a chewing gum museum, a storyteller with love letters, a garden in the middle of the street and several other invaders slipped into a city of the Ruhr and questioned its identity and future. I was visiting the new city proposed by curators and artists and this is my story about it.  

Edito: Anno 1947

Text: Ştefan Ghenciulescu
Photo: Dan Purice

What caught my eye from a distance was a small modernist building in Timişoara – simple, elegant, dainty and thus highly representative of our nice and moderate interbel¬lum. It was only when I came within a few feet of the building that I was able to notice the Art Deco monogram indicating the construction date—a typical feature of those times. That’s when I froze—the year did not belong to the 1930s, as I had expected. It was 1947. The inter-war building had not in fact been built during the inter-war period. Its owners finalized its construction and flaunted it in front of the whole world the very same year their own universe fell apart.

Abruptarhitectura: A wooden church and its bell tower.

A small community, in a recent district belonging to a provincial romanian town, Mizil, gets its wooden church.

Project, text, photo: Abruptarhitectura – Cristina Constantin, Cosmin Pavel

Caught between the highway and the railway, plans for the new district appeared immediately after the revolution. Thus the authorities tried to regulate the people’s reawakened need for building a house. The place was called either “Han” (“Inn”), based on the name given to a nearby manor house, or “Dallas”, based on the fantasies of the era.

Public places on a shelf. Low-cost flexible university building on the Paris-Saclay University campus

At the 2014 Awards Ceremony for projects in Europe at the Holcim Awards (now LafargeHolcim Awards), this was one of the works that impressed me most. Although, at the time, all you could see were plans and renders, the architectural and urban idea was clear and strong: an elementary frame, coherent, flexible and cheap, designed o shleter, bring together and celebrate public activities. No parametric fireworks or populist collage here, just a no-nonsense and robust construction, whose beauty lies in proprtion and light; a good example of a sustainable concept that does not rely  on gadgets , but on strategy and a capacity to endure and evolve. (Ștefan Ghenciulescu)

Open Border. Warming Hut on the Red River Mutual Skate Trail

In a time when we only hear about walls, this is a very different kind of wall. One that shows that you can talk in a nice way about very serious things and merge utility and art installation. Atelier ARI’s wall is accessible and shelters instead of repelling, it’s a barrier that becomes a place (Z.)

A roof to live under. House in Molco

The roof breaks away from the house; ther house rises above the ground; windows, doors and shutters slide in all directions; the construction is light, transparent and sets ina most delicate way in a spendid landscape. The house in Molco is an almost didatic example of how to work today with modernist principles. (Z.)

If we architects really want to change the city, we have to….

… accept that there is no recipe, but there might well be some sensible principles. The situation is dire, our profession is in crisis and attacked from all parts. We are forced to redefine it, says Oana Bogdan, but that may be a blessing in disguise. A sharp and well-documented essay about work, the market, responsibility, identity and 7 steps for change.