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Cristina Popescu Portfolio +41 (0) 762513262

Accademia di Architettura Mendrisio, Switzerland (Atelier Charbonnet) present "Ion Mincu" University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest 2009 - 2014

Project assignments In Between


Home for the Elderly


Verandas in a Square


The Square of Lost Objects


House for an artist


Extracurriculary Tree House School of Bunesti

2012 2012, 2013

Models and drawings The Plot


Project Assignments

street view of the site


location: Bucharest function: collective housing type: school assignment year: 2013 semester: 8th coordinator: Prof. Dr. Arch. Dorin Stefan

In the journey from “A big village” to “Little Paris” and continuing with modernism and communism, Bucharest developed a variety of dwelling types that explain its present variegated image. Under a closer look, we can discover patterns of living that used to be very characteristic in the city, but seem to have been lost along the way the use for intermediary spaces. The lack of gradual transitions from the public street to the individual dwelling culminated in the communist era and also affected social behavior. People soon became introverted and lost the notion of “public/common space”. The small events inside the rigid apartment building became the only reason binding the people together. A new food recipe could gather enthusiast neighbors around the kitchen, or a hair salon opened in a bathroom could show that the most unexpected places in a house can become the center for social expression.

For the assignment, we had to choose from sixteen sites along Calea Mosilor Street. Located near the center of Bucharest, in a protected historical area, the region contains buildings from different times that marked the evolution of the city. Understanding the use of intermediary spaces, as well as the consequences of their absence, help developing a new typology of dwellings that adapts to new needs for living. Everyday activities are pushed out of the apartment opening them to social interaction. Only the bedroom, bathroom and a small area for cooking remain private, while the kitchen and dining room, living room and office etc. are all part of an open saloon, occupying most of the floor area. The public ground floor unifies the street with the construction and the back yard, which allows direct access in the neighboring existing buildings.

house with garden

Bucharest dwelling typologies

commercial house with verandas

modernist apartment building

communist apartment block

new typology

garden, entrance veranda

intermediary spaces

covered entries, courtyard, veranda, gangways

corridors, interior s courtyard


staircase, elevator

site plan

ground floor coffee shop, art gallery

third floor apartments

second floor

fourth floor

fifth floor

sixth floor

seventh floor

eighth floor

longitudinal section

view from Calea Mosilor Street


location: Calimanesti function: elderly care center type: school assignment year: 2013 semester: 7th coordinator: Prof. Dr. Arch. Dorin Stefan

The site is located on the field of Cozia monastery, a defensive monastic complex built in the XIVth century, with byzantine influences. Calimanesti has been for centuries a health resort known for its mineral and sulphurous springs. It lays in the Carpathian Mountains, along an important national road, the first one to connect the capital with Transylvania. Observing the evolution and the structure of the place I discovered the existence of “enclosures� that were not necessarily boarded by a physical limit. They were sometimes determined by a surface covered with the same crop or in yards with particular characteristics (old relics of rooms, now inhabited by trees). All of these enclosures together capture the place’s personality and contain its essence. Using the same pattern and including different daily activities, the project focuses on creating a productive and active environment for the elderly. Using the local resources they learn to make bread and

how to use a water mill, they harvest their crops and make their own pottery, while constantly interacting with the outside space. The brick building, inspired by the monastic cloisters, has five open courtyards and four greenhouses, which provide short covered connections to the center area of the assembly. Thus the closed space is always in relation with the outside. All floor area is divided in smaller parts by different floor tiles, and each holds a different function. The rooms for the elderly are arranged towards the exterior, and have direct access from the outside, through a small garden. The workshop and the library are placed in the center, opening to the main courtyard. The assembly contains a water mill that is placed on the Olt River. The alternation of halls and courtyards lead to different choices of traversing the facility.


evolution of the site



1800 - 1900


site plan with "enclosures"


OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY flour and bread production tailoring pottery workshop painting carpentry

ENTERTAINMENT theatre, dancing fishing library swimming, gym

ACCOMODATION 50 people 20 single rooms 10 double rooms 5 studios

OTHER FACILITIES dining hall medical rooms gardens, greenhouses

road faรงade

transversal section

pottery workshop

corner garden

path between the road and building

"plastic" socialist verandas

VERANDAS IN A SQUARE location: Bucharest function: collective housing type: school assignment year: 2012 semester: 6th coordinator: Prof. Dr. Arch. Emil Barbu Popescu Lect. Dr. Arch. Andrei Serbescu team: Cristina Popescu, Laura Cristea

The assignment questions the fundamental theme of architecture and human existence – dwelling collectively. The site lies in a triangular gap between socialist block of flats, brick industrial buildings and a rural-type of urban tissue, with low-rise individual houses, gardens with vine and hens. Romania has little history of quality collective dwelling. For us, it means the socialist housing. We realized we have no other referral. The first step was to analyze our imbedded experience. Based on studies, stories and personal memories, we drew a section of a typical socialist block of flats. This ironic on-going tale for several generations of adapting the standardized to one’s needs creates an unpredicted and infinite variety of living. We tried to sketch the comics of our collective memory.

How can we thus live urbanely and collectively better than this, in contemporary Bucharest? The fascinating space of closed veranda came as a possible conciliation between private dwelling, urban constraints, transparency and intimacy. It becomes the family livingroom; it gathers memories and things in its incorporated functional furniture; it allows watching the rain pouring on its delicate steel window frames, or hearing the children playing in the protected courtyard. In search of temperate light, the verandas stick together on a ground base. This street level is shaped learning from Bucharest’s old habits: the protected space of blind alleys, the street-corner piazza, commercial porticos and narrow passages, intimate and wild gardens.

The drawing represents a past-present-future section through a typical socialist block of flats. In order to define what “collective� dwelling meant for contemporary Bucharest, we zoomed into its recent history. The politically imposed standard structure transformed over years, acquiring an incredibly rich variety of uses: developing rooms in the tiny baths, watch making in the storage space, exotic gardens in the balconies, tailoring in the living rooms. It is a comics of our collective memory that helped us to further develop a better dwelling scenario, based on the critical reading of this still very real tale.

traditional veranda

study of dwellings in verandas

the street-corner market and the portico

ground floor plan

second floor plan and faรงade

THE SQUARE OF LOST OBJECTS location: Bucharest function: public space type: school assignment year: 2011 semester: 4th coordinator: Prof. Dr. Arch. Emil Barbu Popescu Lect. Dr. Arch. Andrei Serbescu team: Cristina Popescu, Laura Cristea

Saint Anton square has always been a very important location in the city of Bucharest. Part of a very intense everyday life, the place has always been very lively and colorful, throughout time taking the role of St. Anton Church grounds, (building subsequently burned), merchants' fairs, flower markets and fountain square. A monument was raised in memory of the burnt church. Its shape is still marked today on the pavement of the square. As access to the boulevard was restricted by the new socialist blocks of flats, the commercial halls were also tore down, announcing the decay of the square, which ultimately became a waste pile and an unauthorized parking space. Starting from the idea of restoring the square back to the people, we started studying the users of the area, as well as their habits related to

the place. We started imagining where would these people fit in the new square and what kind of spaces would they need to enhance their more intense use of the space: a place where children could play, with sand and spaces to draw with chalk, a space where elderly people could talk and play board games, shadow for wondering readers, venues for open air events, a drinking water fountain and shelters for the animals in the area. Saint Anton is the saint of lost objects, to whom people used to pray for the return of their belongings. Our project thus became a “square of lost objects�, composed of reused things, where what we imagined could take shape.


"lost objects"

The bench modules are made of concrete and old chairs. They also contain small sinks/fountains with drinkable water. On the bottom part, holes are created as shelters for the animals. Playgrounds for children use old pipes and wood. Poppies, St. Anton’s flowers, cover the shape of the old church’s plan, surrounding the monument. At night, the square is illuminated by light sources hidden inside a ring of long metal bars on which plants can climb, filtering the brightness.

The old windows form a more intimate area in the space of the square. Cast iron bath tubs are cut and distributed throughout the square as benches and tables. They are equipped with wheels so the people can move them around. An old newspaper stand, formerly very typical for Bucharest, is now used as an information point. The meeting point of the square’s slopes is marked by a reused fountain with an oversized grill that can help gather most of the rain water.

Henri Matisse - "Open Window"


function: dwelling type: school assignment year: 2010 semester: 2nd coordinator: Prof. Dr. Arch. Florian Stanciu

The window, a medium between two worlds, has been an inspiration for many artists throughout time. What lies beyond it is either a representation of reality, a character, or an imaginary landscape. What happens if the window can be opened anywhere around you and capture a different image each time? How do these worlds coexist and what ties them together? For this assignment, each student had a three dimensional grid in which a house for an artist had to take form. The rigorous concrete grid imposed a sincere display of material; it was our first encounter with the expression of textures. This project explores the ideas of limit between interior and exterior

spaces and how they can be united with light. The outside world is not only the garden, in the middle of which the house is placed, but the sky as well. The relationship between the interior and the two exteriors is treated differently. The perimeter of the house is covered by shutters on each floor, filtering the light and offering new views each time they are rearranged. The roof is made of concrete domes penetrated with small circles that let the light pass. The second and third floor are always lit during daytime, even when the shutters are closed. The stairs that connect the three floors are located at the heart of the house. They are isolated from the rest of the dwelling in a “vertical room�, whose only link to the outside is the light coming from the upper dome.



type: competition year: 2012 outcome: shortlisted organizer: INSPIRED |

The competition brief asked for designing a nowadays tree house, one that challenges the image created by American movies and culture. In a world of rapid progress and always in search of new, old values are easily forgotten and abandoned. There are certain places scattered around every modern city that are filled with history, but are now left in ruin, helpless. Trees are their only inhabitants, looking like they watch over the decayed places. My project introduces another character in this story. He is the

personification of the trees, a guardian of the forgotten places. He lives in a house placed in a tree, on one of the abandoned areas of Bucharest. The tree house is like a burrow, carved in a wooden block, providing shelter and space for ordinary everyday activities. It is a small object, almost invisible, hidden behind the tree branches. Old places are like old people, they need someone to care for them. The project is merely an idea, a pleasant thought that someone would be so attached to a place that his purpose is to watch over it when the world turns its back with ignorance.


location: Zarnesti, Arges type: workshop year: 2012, 2013 coordinator: Prof. Dr. Arch. Ana Maria Goilav |

The School of Bunesti is a project whose main purpose is to bring a new alternative to the crisis of the traditional educational system. Because of the need of a quiet place and of the particular nature of this school, the idea from the beginning was to build an unusual campus, away from the restless city. The school’s building site was found near a little village, between Curtea de Arges and Pitesti, Romania, in a large meadow surrounded by woods and close to the Vâlsan River.

exploring each year a different natural material along with its own constructing laws lead to the establishing of the three different structural forms, based on the three primary materials: wood, clay and stone. Just like the way vernacular building sites were managed, the School’s intentions are pre-established in the form of a theoretical project, but more building details are studied and deliberately left up to the personal on-site interactions between architect, craftsmen and students.

Every summer since 2008, groups of 20 people change every 10 days, learning the traditional ways of construction with natural materials by building 1:1 scale models. The Schools ambition of

Currently, The School has three buildings, a cellar and a bower for the kitchen and the communal table. In the following years, the School’s aim is to function all year round, not just during summer.

Models and Drawings


type: drawing year: 2012 team: Cristina Popescu, Laura Cristea

The drawing, now permanently exhibited in the “Ion Mincu� University of Architecture and Urbanism, tells its every-day plot through a 2D section. It is an affective story, both real and imaginary. It shows moments from the past, present, and future of our life in the university, as we see it, feel it or sometimes dream of it. A bit ironic, a bit nostalgic, it is a proof that the university becomes our home, whether we realize it or not.

Cristina Popescu Portfolio  
Cristina Popescu Portfolio