MA | Architecture and Urbanism | Redo.Undo.Shift.Paste.Cut | MSA

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MA Master of Arts in Architecture and Urbanism

Laura Minca | 2014




abstract The main aim of the dissertation is to study the variations in visual and programmatic sequencing derived from the adaptation of deconstructivist and film montage theories to Bucharest’s urban scenario. For the purposes of this dissertation, vestiges of an unfinished operation initiated during the communist era in Romania, both the screening flanks of the Union Boulevard, piercing through the heart of the city, and the House of People as the volumetric climax of this axial progression are going to be dismantled and reassembled in the context of current Bucharest. Geographically, the dissertation zooms in on the Union Boulevard as a strategic approach meant to enhance and control the vista towards the ‘House of People’, Ceausescu’s most invasive architectural gesture. The second largest building in the world after the Pentagon in the U.S.A, the House of People in Bucharest is an embodiment of power, opulence and ostentation that overwhelms the surrounding. How does one gaze at this fortress then? For locals, it is a daily reminder of the emotional scars the communist regime deeply embedded into their subconscious. For tourists, the House of People is a curiously large edifice which cannot be captured with one switch of the camera shutter. The extensive scheme of demolitions initiated by the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu echoed the regime’s paranoia of sovereignty and control. One of the primary concepts advanced by the communist ideology was the uniformization dictum which promoted the abolition of locality in the name of social equality. Nevertheless, the concept only functioned on a superficial level: the tall flanks of concrete blocks veiled the lives of the city’s residents behind, triggering high levels of social deprivation, segregation and exclusion. I am interested in developing a series of techniques that would project the real pulse of the city and redefine spatial experience through the development of an elevational dialectic along the main circulation axes based on the study of deconstructivist and montage theories. Envisioning the long overdue elaboration of an official master plan for the central area of the city, this thesis seeks to explore five different possibilities in reinterpreting the Union Boulevard and the House of People area: integral restoration, re-sacralization, endless recombination (montage city), transference and complete erasure. An overview of the local history, of the international approaches in tackling the phenomenon of urban fragmentation and similar case studies are to be analyzed in order to define the actual grounds on which change can occur. Taking into account Bucharest’s profoundly disjointed urban fabric, all these aspects are to be explored by formulating a series of five answers to the following research question: How could the Union Boulevard and House of People area be addressed through the application of contemporary deconstructivist theories and cinematic montage techniques? Keywords: fragmentation, post-communism








DECLARATION No portion of the work referred to in the dissertation has been submitted in support of an application for another degree or qualification of this or any other university or other institute of learning.

COPYRIGHT STATEMENT Notes on copyright and the ownership of intellectual property rights: i. Copyright in text of this dissertation rests with the author. Copies (by any process) either in full, or of extracts, may be made only in accordance with instructions given by the author. Details may be obtained from the appropriate Graduate Office. This page must form part of any such copies made. Further copies (by any process) of copies made in accordance with such instructions may not be made without the permission (in writing) of the author. ii. The ownership of any intellectual property rights which may be described in this dissertation is vested in Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester, subject to any prior agreement to the contrary, and may not be made available for use by third parties without the written permission of the University, which will prescribe the terms and conditions of any such agreement. iii. Further information on the conditions under which disclosures and exploitation may take place is available from the Head of the School.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I am greatly indebted to my advisor Eamonn Canniffe who has supervised this thesis from the very beginning with amazing and inspiring insights and comments. I would also like to express my special thanks to Ray Lucas, who has always been a motivated critic. This thesis could not have been finished without the encouragement, financial support and fortitude of my mother Eugenia Minca and my partner Adam Allan, who endured this long process with me, always offering their support and love. For many gestures of kindness and words of encouragement offered throughout the process, I would like to express a strong sense of gratitude to my always supportive friend, Cristina Popescu.


table of contents Abstract Dedication Acknowledgments Declaration and Copyright Statement Table of Contents INTRODUCTION

i ii iii iv v 1


Chapter Objectives



Bucharest as Palimpsest



A Historical Overview


1.2.2 From Village to Metropolis


1.2.3 Communism and Revolution


1.2.4 1.3

A. The House of People


B. The Union Boulevard


Adaptation: The Post-Communist Period


Deconstructivist Theories 1.3.1

From Post-Socialist to Post-Modern City



City of Disjunctions: Bernard Tschumi



Generic City: Rem Koolhaas



City of Scars: Lebbeus Woods



City of Memory: Daniel Libeskind



Chapter Conclusion



Chapter References




Chapter Objectives



Introduction to Montage Theory




Fabricated Landscapes: Lev Kuleshov

2.2.2 Montage of Attractions: Sergei Eisenstein



Sculpting in Time: Andrei Tarkovsky



Framing Time and Movement: Gilles Deleuze



Montage and Architecture



Architecture and Narrative



Travelling Urbanism



Chapter Conclusion



Chapter References



Chapter Objectives



Historical Connections



Berlin and Bucharest



Havana and Bucharest



Chapter Conclusion



Chapter References




Chapter Objectives



Scenario 1: REDO



Scenario 2: UNDO



Scenario 3: SHIFT



Scenario 4: PASTE



Scenario 5 : CUT



Chapter References




Additional Reading Filmography Illustrations

169 170 172

APPENDICES Appendix A: Interview Transcripts


Appendix B: Research Methodologies


Appendix C: Cities and Urban Ideologies



INTRODUCTION The events of 1989 represented a year that changed the face of Europe. They reshaped the political world and prompted the collapse of the Communist governments alongside the dismantling of the Iron Curtain. The movements that unleashed these political upheavals were mainly motivated by the desire for democracy and better living conditions, although lacking in a clear understanding of how these goals could be achieved. In the same year, Romania overcame its ‘moral frustration and political impotence, and regained a central role in the political sphere’ (Tismaneanu, 2009). After decades of oppressive regimes, the Romanian transition experience from communist to democratic rule was marked by a period of mass confusion and disillusionment, which also manifested across the urban and architectural urban practices: the absence of private property, the forced urbanization following Ceausescu’s megalomaniac aspirations and the large scale impromptu capitalist investments that jolted the numbed urban fabric of the newly decolonized country, gave rise to a series of new challenges marked by poverty and social isolation. In addition, while some domains found it easier to make the transition towards a democratic rule, the gaping wounds (Ivan, 2006) left by the uncompleted socialist urban and architectural project were far more difficult to address by the newly-emergent leadership. This study focuses on a particular area of central Bucharest where we encounter the most radical and extensive communist intervention project in Romania’s history: the Union Boulevard and the House of People. Nevertheless, in order to able to articulate responses as to how the complexities of the urban tissue can be addressed, I begin by analyzing the dual condition underlining the phenomenon of urban fragmentation – as malady and cure. Henceforth, the first chapter will provide a historical overview of the local context which formed the basis for the project’s implementation with an emphasis on the political grounds fuelling the communist systematization strategies. Since architecture is closely attuned to the cultural, social and particularly political factors prevalent for each historical era, I aim to highlight the interdependent relationship between metropolis and power, culminating with the city’s entering in the Soviet orbit. An analysis which closely examines the House of People and the Union boulevard will be helpful towards our understanding of the dictator’s aim to carve a new reality, by fervidly forging the plans for a painful rupture from the past, from an identity that Bucharest had tried so hard to formulate across centuries of history. Arguing that the phenomenon of fragmentation can be regarded as an opportunity for urban revival, I will initially concentrate my analysis on radical contemporary deconstructivist theories reconsidering the fate of cities in the perspective of concepts such as globalization, deterritorialization and permanent versus temporary (Bernard Tschumi, Rem Koolhaas). They militate for a system of fissures, of contradictions which break the monotonous, predictable urban sequence through the infiltration of uncertainty as main event. Although at a first glance these approaches can be categorized as far too radical, they bring to the fore a series of alternative ways in dealing with the processes of homogenization and heterogenization the postsocialist city is inevitably prone to as part of the ongoing economic globalization . As architecture does not materialize independent of politics, at the other end of the spectrum lays the work of Lebbeus Woods and Daniel Libeskind, meant to provide insights into how to approach urban traumas while carefully considering their implications upon the collective subconscious.

‘COMRADES, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? CALM DOWN!...’ Nicolae Ceausescu’s last speech, 21st December 1989

(1) Revolution: Bucharest, a building in flames in the town centre


These authors’ ideologies seem to have identified the common ground between the abandonment of past relics and their complete erasure by making a series of proposals dealing with aspects of memory, trace and place as opportunities for achieving closure while preparing the scenario for future urban initiatives. The analysis of these approaches is meant to provide a contemporary understanding of how other nations and theorists have approached similar problems to the ones posed by the unfinished project. If the first chapter focused on theories of fragmentation, the second one investigates the means of recomposing these fragments in a coherent manner by appealing to Soviet montage theories. Through the analysis of montage techniques developed by prolific film-maker such as Lev Kuleshov, Sergei Eisenstein and Andrei Tarkovsky, I am preparing the ground for the main recombinant gestures in terms of elevational and programmatic alchemy (Koolhaas, 1998). Also of use here shall be Gilles Deleuze’s elaboration of these theories whose concepts of time and movement image are essentially outlined through constant references to montage. Arguing that the exploration of montage offers architects strategies for encounter and juxtaposition, I discuss the connections between architecture and narrative, bringing to the fore ‘dérive’ and ‘détournement’ as key practices in spatial exploration and meaning subversion (Wark, 2011). Claiming that movement and motion underlie not only the intellectual subtleties of montage, but most importantly the increasingly transient condition of the metropolis, I am militating for the elaboration of a montage city. This approach, particularly relevant to the case of Bucharest whose fragments require a cohesive organization will devise the theoretical stance supporting the proposals developed during the final chapter of the thesis. The third chapter emphasizes the importance of considering contemporary urban models, dealing with situations of memory and decay within former or current communist enclaves. In this sense, I have decided to turn my attention to the case of Berlin and Havana. While the former urban model teaches Bucharest that the reintegration of the communist relics is an essential gesture in reconciling the past and future, the latter is going to be explored in terms of the emergent plan-elevation dialectic and metabolized as an option to tackle the phenomenon of urban screening controlling the vista towards the House of People. Finally, the fourth chapter will bring together all the fragmentation and montage theories, while exploring five different options in tackling the currently disjointed urban fabric of Bucharest. Ranging from complete restoration to re-sacralization (concerned with the dislocation of religious centers), the utopian formulation of a montage city, transference (analyzing the implementation of international urban models), and radical erasure, the study urges for a reassessment of the diseased heritage, offering the city an opportunity to choose its destiny. Although a challenging task indeed, and also one “long overdue” (Ioan, 2005, in Ivan, 2006:13), the study emphasizes the imminence of breaking away from the current lethargic state and look into future opportunities for urban renewal.


REFERENCES Ivan, M., (2006). Rethinking the Axis: Approaches in the Development of Communist Initiated/uncompleted Architecture in Bucharest After 1989. Ohio Link ETD Centre. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 June 2012]. Koolhaas, R., Mau, B., Sigler, J., & Werlemann, H. (1998). Small, medium, large, extra-large: Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rem Koolhaas, and Bruce Mau. New York , N.Y. , Monacelli Press. Tismaneanu, V., (2009). The end and the beginning: lessons of 1989. Open Democracy, [online]2 November. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 June 2012]. Wark, M. (2011). The beach beneath the street: the everyday life and glorious times of the Situationist International. London, Verso.


1.1 chapter objectives By studying general facts about the phenomenon of fragmentation in the context of the post-socialist and post-modern city, the first chapter proposes to familiarize the reader with the dual, paradoxical condition underlying the phenomenon of fragmentation: as malady on the one hand– noted in the case of Bucharest and its current schizophrenic urban condition, resulting from the brutal eradication of its past layers, and as cure on the other hand – fervidly debated by prolific architectural theorists who propose an anti-nostalgic treatment, favoring the notion of rupture as an opportunity for developing unprecedented formal and programmatic gestures. Firstly, by analyzing the general facts regarding the urban and architectural context of Bucharest, I aim to present the objectives of research and a selection of critical historical observations which are relevant to the development of my project from several standpoints. I shall begin my argument by exploring fragmentation in its pejorative understanding while studying the case of Bucharest as a metropolis without a determined identity. The urban fabric of Bucharest witnessed nowadays is a profoundly disjointed one, telling the story of a series of failed attempts and contrasting desires. The city itself is the expression of what the written dialectic would refer to as a palimpsest: ‘a manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing’ (Oxford Online Dictionary). This definition is key in understanding the city’s evolution through time as a canvas for continuous experimentation through the negation of the past, through the rejection and abolition of its previous layers and brutal superimposition of new urban formulas. Nevertheless, it is the failure of past despotic eras in thoroughly implementing their aims that reveals vestiges of these unfinished operations scattered across the city’s fabric, contributing to its current condition as an ‘unfinished project’ (Ioan, 2006). What is truly striking is the city’s self-ingestion mechanism, uncovering confusing mutation patterns and a myriad of urban fragments, individually coherent but unintelligible when combined: starting with the picturesque aura of the medieval period, moving on to a turbulent period of architectural stylistic boom, followed by the vicious infringement of the cityscape with the uprise of the communist regime and finally, the post-modern general state of confusion. Debating the issue of the city’s identity Lascu (in Cinà 2010:9) states: ‘each urban-planning project left fractures and traces and they are now asking to be re-composed.’ Secondly, in exploring the way modern ways cities interpreted urban fragmentation as part of their future development strategies, I look at the contemporary concepts related to urban evolution which are currently addressing more and more the exploration of radical ways . If we were to agree on Bucharest’s infested condition, can we find an answer in the theories of fragmentation elaborated by acclaimed architects and theorists? If Tschumi’s manifestoes embrace the percept that it is at the clash of mutually exclusive or contradictory terms where meaning is born, then how come Bucharest with the endless contradictions that make up its body is not pioneering this approach? Alternatively, could Lebbeus Woods’ visionary technique of urban reconstruction as a cartography of cosmeticized scars heal the gaping wounds in the city’s fabric?


In addition to formulating answers to these questions, this chapter will explore the theories of Rem Koolhaas which become relevant to the thesis through his exploration of the generic city along with its arbitrary evolution, ultra-high densities and standardization of image as prevalent conditions of future urban settlements. Daniel Liebeskind’s concepts on the reconsideration of the past and the ideologically contaminated spaces could bring a new dimension to the study of Bucharest in terms of the creation of new landscapes which reconcile the collective memory with the existing relics of a tumultuous past. This chapter reveals that the physical constraints and the political pressures over the area should not be the only determinants of its evolution: the idea of (re)building a (future) city should be based upon a general openness to external sources, following the rhythms of societal change. Since the local lifestyles and economics are changing according to the newly emerged Western values of consumerism, these ideas need to penetrate the concepts related to urban renewal. In order to shed more light and understanding upon the subject of fragmentation, I analyze these two conditions separately.


1.2 bucharest as palimPsest With the fall of the communist regimes at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s a series of Eastern European capitals were scarred irreversibly and the shift in the role they are now expected to play within the global social and political scene should be carefully considered. Within this context, Bucharest’s urban fluctuations reveal an anxious city that is eager to recover through a sort of self-induced amnesiac behavior. The wounds are still open and the policies of Ceausescu as well as those of the post-communist period slow down the city’s metamorphosis into the dynamic civic centre it is aspiring to become. As Cinà (2010:19) remarks, Bucharest’s architecture and urban layout is the proscribed meeting place of two great utopias that nurtured the city’s leap towards Modernity beginning with the mid-1800s: the liberal, middle class city and the Socialist egalitarian working class one. What is essential however is the fact that these two great ideologies emerged from an irregular, discontinuous, low-density urban fabric that defined the character of pre-modern Bucharest. In time, Bucharest had to allow itself to be tamed by the social, political and cultural initiatives of each era in order for its urban structure to be eventually carried to a higher level of synthesis within the global order. Visiting Bucharest proves to be a challenging task, especially when distinguishing between the architectures of the late 1800s, the inter-war period and the past socialist regime as a hotpot of modernism and eclecticism spiced with Ottoman and Byzantine fragments as glimpses of a distant past. When immersing into the central area of Bucharest the sight is confusing as the archipelago of competing fragments leading a placated battle to overpower one another do not only reveal a mixture of architectural styles but also interrupted, syncopated layers and disappearing or missing fragments. In addition, its multi-faceted condition is remarkable and the complexity of its layers should not set us back from attempting to provide an ultrasound of its evolution through space and time. In fact, it is such analysis that will enable us to achieve a deeper understanding of the plurality underlying its current condition which in my opinion should be metabolized as panoply of values as opposed to a set of imperfections which would inevitably inhibit any future attempts to tackle the city’s physical and conceptual coordinates. In order to cast the appropriate actors that will later on participate in the urban performance planned for the Union Boulevard axis, it is essential to identify and observe the stages in Bucharest’s slide from the original village-type settlement model towards the current urban formula.

(2) Overleaf: diagram of Bucharest as a mosaic of fragments following its turbulent urban evolution. The main communist intervention area is marked in Red while the Dambovita River, a constant through history is marked in Yellow.


1.2.1 history lessons In order to achieve a deeper understanding regarding why the issue of communist architectural and urban design requires a high degree of attention in contemporary Romania, the impact of the extensive demolition scheme upon the city’s compact texture, the urban and architectural residues of the unfinished socialist operation and the emerging patterns in the context of contemporary Bucharest following the fall of the regime are going to be carefully considered. With the aim of sketching a concise overview of the historical evolution of Romania’s architecture and urbanism, I will refer to three essential stages: 1. The pre-communist period and Bucharest’s evolution from village-city, to eclecticism, and modernity. 2. The communist period and the variation in the regime cast from 1947 to 1989. 3. The post 1989 period characterized by the country’s shift to an embryonic and fragile democratic condition. Each evoked period retains a specific set of traits which impacted the city in a different way. A gradual understanding of each of these stages will provide conclusive insights into the main aspects of the local and national background as well as their configurative development which eventually provide the backdrop for the enforcement of the communist doctrine. Additionally, it is essential to understand the rationale behind the post-communist development strategies prior to the advancement of a new proposal.


1.2.2 from village to metropolis Bucharest’s evolution has been frequently related to its strategic, favorable location at the confluence point of global trade routes and regional civilizations. Considered a ‘bridge’ between the Roman West and the Orthodox East, the city developed into the most significant urban centre in South-Eastern Europe, ever since its first appearance in an 1459 document approved by Vlad Tepes and its subsequent appointment in 1862 as the capital of Romania (Giurescu, 1966). What is interesting about the incipient territorial division is its irregular allocation according to the properties of the boyars, ultimately turning it into a mosaic of parishes (Cinà, 2010:52). This arrangement outlines an embryonic Bucharest as a decentralized and amorphous urban framework, lacking in a cohesive unification of the economic, social and cultural frameworks. In order to achieve a more sophisticated, matured level of integration within the wider urban structure, the city had to be patient and drift along the currents of transition. Referred to as a ‘village - city’ (Cinà, 2010:54), its status was elevated with the second half of the 1800s, following the release from the Ottoman constraints and the assimilation of French influences which became a prevalent model in its future urban and architectural evolution. At the end of the 19th century the city seemed to have attained a certain hierarchical coherence through the introduction of the east-west (1860) and north-south (1880) axes which were rapidly absorbed into the urban texture when applied to its unconsolidated, loose patterns (Lascu in Cinà, 2010:12). As the system grew in complexity, the new infrastructure of road networks feeding into these main axes was increasingly defined by the regulation of the pedestrian-traffic spaces with street widths and fronts (Lascu, 2011:9). Additionally, the strategic implementation of squares designed to soften the juxtaposition of old and new networks while creating nodes of articulation improving the pedestrian and vehicular flows transpired a remarkable Parisian influence. In its courageous, yet hazardous evolution, the explosion of urban innovation processes determined Bucharest to achieve its liberal utopia while savoring its new-found status as a metropolitan city. Bucharest’s urban planning history unravels a matrix of radical gestures meant to echo the hubris of the political regimes throughout different eras. The systems of boulevards, cutting through the city’s organic structure is a phenomenon that can be traced back to the 1900s. In this sense, Calea Victoriei is the first in a series of invasive gestures, having been designed for the use of one man: Prince Brancoveanu who built it in order to connect his urban residence with his summer one at Mogosoaia (Lascu in Cinà, 2010:12). Although over time it hosted the most representative civic and public functions, its current appearance is the result of a complex process of substitutions and densification of the existing buildings, most of which used to be places of worship. Such stratification reveals both the first signs of fragmentation as well as the city’s generative properties to mold new realities, and carve itself a new social and cultural identity while ‘enhancing the complexity of the spatial and temporal layers it is defined by’ (Cinà, 2010:19).


(3) The ‘Petit Paris’ in Postcards

All these urban planning gestures defined the framework which would support Bucharest’s exponential growth during the interwar period. Nevertheless, as Cinà (2010:82) remarks, a certain discontinuity could be observed between the city’s appropriation of the fragments of Western architectural and urban gestures, and the actual spatial doctrines that defined the spaces which they were extracted from: ‘In fact, contrary to the European city’s tradition, urban space in pre-modern Bucharest could not be defined in reference to a logic linear perspective – or geometric associations – linking each building to its surrounding space according to pre-defined relationships. Squares were not the city’s focal points; Romanians did not meet traditionally in a square but on a street. As a result, nearly all of the end-of-the- 19th century’s great buildings was linked to a boulevard rather than a square.’ The changes that the city underwent in its metamorphosis from a village settlement into a European capital are remarkable. Its evolution continued following World War I when Bucharest entered the ‘new modernity’ as an era of self invention and definition of its own stylistic values, trying to distance itself from the foreign influences. The development of a non-subordinate stance while aspiring to the European integration through less-dependant strategies is evoked by a period of experimentation with the interweaving of traditional canons and innovation as proposed by the modernist dialectic. As a result, the Neo-Romanian style emerged, triggered by the acute need to incorporate the traditional repertoire of architectural elements as a reflection of the rise of the Romanian national state. This was an eclectic expression of the variety of influences the territory had absorbed ever since its discovery. Most importantly, it was born out of rejection of the European traditions while attempting to synthesize two apparently incompatible elements: the local architecture and the Beaux Arts eclecticism (Gavris and Zahariade, 2002).


Bucharest was in search of a particular cultural identity and the period between the two World Wars surfaced a fervent twenty-years competition between the supporters of Neo-Romanian aesthetic aiming at reinforcing the national cultural values and the pragmatism advanced by the Modern Movement striving for functionality through its ‘form follows function’ dictum. However, the traditional aesthetic of the 19th century thriving on sentiments of national rebirth was repudiated by the modernist utopia which had finally subjugated the city as the future testing-ground for the implementation of its own urban and architectural initiatives. The infiltration of the Modernist dialectic in the Romanian architectural scene is closely connected to the influence of a group of Romanian artists in the Dadaist avant-garde Parisian context whose ideology was mainly centered around mocking materialistic and nationalistic attitudes while rebelling against what they perceived as ‘cultural snobbery, bourgeois convention, and political support for the war’ (Sandqvist, 2006:42). As architects started incorporating the building technologies of iron, steel and glass into their projects, a new style emerged which translated into a vertical/horizontal rhythm of the facades and chromatic purification. The revolutionary accents surfacing throughout the work of prolific architects such as Marcel Iancu, Horia Creanga, Duiliu Marcu and Octav Doicescu, evoke the restless contradiction between continuity and evolution. Yet, the brilliance of their approach resides the development of a non-traumatic stylistic manner that assisted the city’s gradual transition from the traditional to modern. What makes the city’s metamorphosis process even more remarkable is the implementation of the modernization dialectic on an urbanistic level through the 1921 and 1935 systematization plans (Panoiu, 2011). Essentially, these replaced the city’s previous organization with a completely new layout catalyzing the shift from sporadic to oriented growth. Overlooking Bucharest’s trajectory from eclecticism at the end of the 19th century towards modernism we can conclude that its new connective fabric revolutionized the approach in building the city while unravelling a fully matured European capital. Remaining fragments of Eclectic, Neo-Romanian and Modern architecture:

(4) The CEC Palace

(5) Villa nearby the Patriarchal Palace

(6) Minculescu villa by Horia Creanga


(7) Plan of the Brancovean period, early 18th century


(8) Existing urban grid in 1906

(9) Proposals for the development of traffic, railroads and green areas, 1906

(10) Systematization Plan, 1935

(11) Master Plan, 1962

(12) Existing situation in 1980


1.2.3 COMMUNISM AND REVOLUTION Communist urban and architectural implementation stages, had a vehemently negative impact upon the city. Discussing the political evolution alongside the architectural one can be particularly challenging, especially for those who are not familiarized with Romania’s tumultuous past. Henceforth, I begin by outlining the sequence of events that lead Romania abandon its pre-communist modernist policies, culminating with sentencing to death its dictator and his wife. With the beginning of the World War II, Bucharest’s ascension was dramatically slowed down and as the communist regime took over the political arena in 1947, the city’s evolution came to a halt. Under the pressures of the Communist Party, devoted to Stalin, the King was forced to abdicate and was eventually exiled as the country embarked on its journey towards becoming a republic. As the notion of freedom of expression nurtured by the Modernist era acquired new meanings, Romania entered its ‘dark history’ era (Ivan, 2006:20) represented by five decades of complete isolation which led to a corrosion of the social and cultural values: ethnic identity was suppressed, censorship introduced, locality abolished in favor of uniformization, leading to increased levels of poverty, squalor and deprivation. The 42 years under socialist domination represented a complete rupture from all the previously achieved values as Bucharest helplessly witnessed the repudiation of its earlier accomplishments and relations with the Western world in favor of the dogmas of a new governing order that bowed its head in total obedience to the Russian socialist regimes. The megalomaniac urban systematization race the dictator embarked the country on followed a visit in North Korea which nurtured his vision of a model completely built around the control of the masses, while attempting to mimic Kim II Sung’s personality cult to carve out his own. Unsurprisingly, his strategy was doomed to fail as by 1981 food rationing was reinstated and energy was in short supply. As opposed to North Korea which was still receiving cash injection from the Soviet Union to mask its imminent bankruptcy, Ceausescu’s hybrid leadership policy distanced the Soviet Union which was unwilling to play the part of the financial sponsor for a country that refused to join the Soviet line of action. If thirty years ago, the North Korean served as an enviable model which Ceausescu was eager to replicate in Romania, the situation was rapidly deteriorated for both the people and the dictator, reaching its apex in 1989. The characteristics of the communist ideology revolve around a key-word: subordination. Not only does this approach evoke the deviant strategies fueling the high levels of control of the social strata but it also manifested in a radical way regarding the manipulation of the urban and architectural dialectic. The communist doctrine aimed towards the creation of a new, superior society that would transcend its past orders while striving for progress through the abolition of individuality. And what better way to broadcast the socialist utopia if not through the direct alteration of the urban aesthetic? After all, the city embodied the ideal canvas for the implementation of a new doctrine that would appeal to the masses, and architecture represented the ideal tool in promoting these principles, ‘as an art with public visibility’ (Popescu cited in Ivan, 2006:31).


Nevertheless, an essential aspect when discussing Bucharest’s mutation into a socialist enclave is the high political dependence on the USSR which functioned as the supreme model, as the furnace of communist ideologies which Romania fastidiously abided by. For a clearer understanding of the impact the communist era upon the Romanian architecture, urbanism and society, Ivan (2006) divides the period 1947-1989 period into three critical stages of development: - The period immediately after 1947 - characterized by an aspiration to the total control over society, and a strong commitment to the Stalinist ideology. The Western principles were completely discarded in favor of the humanist egalitarianism principles. - The era following 1957 represented by the transition from the Stalin’s Empire Style - standing for grandeur and rich embellishments under a collection of styles - to Minimalism as initiated by Nikita Khrushchev – promoting a reinterpretation of the Modernist principles. - The post-1977 period climaxing with the 1989 revolution, marked by the schism from the USSR’s protection and the advancement of an isolation policy postulated by Ceausescu. It is important to mention that this third stage will provide the social and urban backdrop set against the principles of montage theory applied to architecture. The Stalinist period was characterized by a form of controlled choreography of the urban structure that nurtured the need for spectacle, for ostentation through the introduction of ‘ceremonial locations, broad squares, straight avenues and lavishly decorated palaces’ (Zinovieva, 2009). Similarly to other capital cities of Eastern Europe, Bucharest rehearsed the urban model promoted by the USSR through the rebuilding of some of the main axes and the introduction of iconic edifices as evidences of the regime’s success in spreading its tentacles across Bucharest’s territory. Some examples include the Press House, a small-size replica of Moscow’s State University and the extensive network of socialist neighborhoods as a premeditated violation of the city’s programmatic coherence ‘in order to render omnipresent the Marxist concept of equality between individuals’ (Ivan, 2006:32). In addition, the regime believed that in order to gain a certain level of adherence to the masses, it had to fabricate a legible type of architecture that would appeal to the uneducated stratum, flooding the city with the beginning of the industrialization era during the first half of the 1930s. Under these circumstances, the revisiting of a very distant past seemed to be most appropriate. The reinterpretation of the Greek and Roman classical vocabulary was intended to asphyxiate the modernist initiatives while reviving through techniques of pastiche and collage ‘the supposedly democratic nature of these regimes’ (Marginean, 2008:26). However, its formalist stance deeply rooted in ideals of egalitarianism started fading away following Stalin’s death and the precarious economic resources following the radical reconstruction strategies.


The day Khrushchev gave his famous ‘secret speech’ in 1954 as an ample critique to Stalin’s personality cult (opposing to the Marxist-Leninins ideology), represented a turning point not only on the political scene but also in the way his message propagated a reappraisal of the architectural context which he deemed as ‘over-decorated, monumental, out of scale’ (Ivan, 2006: 34). If Stalin had positioned himself as ‘an heir of the classical traditions’ (Choate, 2010:iii), Khrushchev was a fervid supporter of the lack of ornamentations, dismissing any architectural details that would not fulfill a practical function. His approach facilitated a revival of the abandoned Modernist credo and although his buildings lacked in architectural quality they were by far more focused on issues of functionality and economical consideration. With immediate effect, large extents of Bucharest’s urban area were readapted to the new policy of construction rationalization. As a result, following the Convention of Soviet Architects in 1995, the themes of pre-fabrication along with a controlled use of materials, techniques and aesthetic solutions forged the structure that was to be the leitmotif of an era: the grey, heavy block as ‘the icon of the Socialist urban stereotype’ (Cinà, 2012:230). If by this point Bucharest’s architecture lacked in identity and formal value as a result of the subordination to the Moskovian government, the situation took a different turn with the appointment of Nicolae Ceausescu in 1965 as Romania’s president. The initial years under his government were not marked by any particular deviation from the preceding tendencies imposed by the Soviet Bloc and it continued to focus on tackling the residential and production shortages following the dramatic increase in the capital’s population which from 992.536 in 1941 to 1.336.794 in 1963 and to 1.475.050 in 1970 (Gerogescu in Cinà:251).

Sea of Sameness: the prefabricated communist block as an infinitely repetitive module:

(13) Moskow

(14) St. Petersburg

(15) Bucharest

(16) Diagram indicting the typical socialist neighborhood arrangement in East Bucharest


Nevertheless, a shift in Ceausescu’s ideology and his further actions would be a significant step in consolidating Romanian nationalism and national communism as a ‘critical reaction to the soviet imperialism, to their hegemony plans and to the rigid orthodox ideology’ (Tismaneanu, 2005:223). It is critical at this point to make a differentiation between national communism and national Stalinism: if the former was perceived as a more relaxed, flexible and tolerant reaction to Soviet Imperialism, the latter stood against any form of liberalization. As mutually exclusive ideologies, it would seem that the coexistence of the two terms would be irrational, if not impossible. And yet, this is this ideological paradox that fueled Ceausescu’s new regime, a reflection of his dual personality, oscillating between pride and paranoia. As the shift in ideology produced, Romania’s notoriety upsoared and it became the first nation in Eastern Europe to reject Khruschev’s public condemnation of Stalin’s cult (Tismaneanu, 2004). Ceausescu’s revelation determined him to reconsider the past Stalinist model promoting the image of a utopian society guided towards excellence by a perennial regime. We can assert that, the reintroduction of personality cult, the reconsideration of grandiose structures suggested a regression in policy rather than a nostalgic evocation of an old socialist model. During the first era of Ceausescu’s rule the focus lied on territorial expansion through the construction of large areas of social housing. Evoking the nationalist communism’s toleration, the old was left untouched and even carefully considered in the design of new urban interventions. However, it was the second dictatorial phase that was going to traumatize the city’s texture irreversibly. As the pre-existing fabric started to be regarded as a hindrance, ‘as a bearer of conflicting ideas, an unwanted an unwanted example of historical values or religious references’ (Ivan, 2006:36), the era of the erasure and displacement had started.

‘Ceaushima‘: the vast demolition plan (1970- 1980) involved the eradication of both social and religious landmarks

(17) Kretulescu Inn

(18) Ienei Church

(19) Alba-Postavari Church


Soon, the infamous dictator, similarly to the megalomaniac aspirations of other totalitarian leaders, developed a real obsession for the object of architecture as a reflection of his political power. As Cinà (2010:233) explains in his book, ‘the “conducator” suffered from building fever’. Ceausescu’s fixation for creating the supreme socialist model reached hyperbolic proportions: not only did he send the Romanian architects to study the North Korean model closely but he also ordered the building of the Union Boulevard one meter wider than the Parisian Champs Elysees, making it the widest avenue in Europe (92 meters in width and 3.5 km in length) for reasons of prestige. Nevertheless, as Ivan (2006:37) remarks, Ceausescu’s schizophrenic aspirations can be contextualized by taking into consideration the global utopias of the time: Chandigarh during the Nehuru regime in India, Braśilia in Brazil, the Tiananmen Square and the Red Square in Moscow, and most importantly, the construction of Abuja, Nigeria, a city for Three Million Inhabitants in the second part of the 20th century (Lang, 2010). All these interventions inspired the leader’s fantasies about the erection of a memorable building, one that would secure his place in history – The House of

(20) Tinanmen Square, Beijing, China

(21) Abuja National Mosque, Nigeria

(22) Red Square, Moscow

(23) Metropolitan Cathedral, Braśilia

(24) Legislative Assembly, Chandigarh

(25) Pyongyang, North Korea

(26) Major street network inside the main circulation ring, before 1980

(27) Extent of 1980 - 1989 interventions (dark tone indicates demolished areas)


A. THE HOUSE OF PEOPLE The 1977 earthquake which ravaged the central area of Bucharest represented the ideal pretext for the demolition of large surfaces of the city, exposing the dictator to the city’s frailty while providing ‘a helpful alibi for the deconstruction programme that followed’ (Pandele,2009:8). Although the historical centre was left almost intact as a result of its natural anti-seismic properties, Ceausescu ‘seized upon the stable soils as merely one justification for using this region for the construction of a new civic center’ (Barris, 2001). The idea of creating a new political-administrative enclave fueled a series of studies meant to identify the most suitable area that would support such a colossal vision. It was soon decided that the Spirii Hill represented the ideal location due to its earth-quake resistance qualities and elevated topography, forming the ideal vantage point his most delirious project to date: The House of People - a hybrid of neo-Romanian, neo-classical and ‘Stalinist’ architecture. Ceausescu himself proclaimed: ‘I am looking for a symbolic representation of the two decades of enlightenment we have lived through; I need something grand, something very grand, which reflects what we have already achieved.’ (Ceausescu cited in Cavalcanti, 1997) In 1983 he laid the foundations for the project, along with the adjacent architectural complex including the The Union Boulevard (formerly referred to as The Victory of Socialism Boulevard), a two mile long linear incision piercing the heart of the city. In an attempt to persuade over the choice of location, Ceausescu tuned to historical justifications, exploiting the sacred meaning of the area as the location for the first church to have been built in Bucharest - Mihai Voda Church. The physical data revealing the maniac dimensions of Ceausescu’s reconstruction project are nothing short of bewildering. The House of People measures 270 m (890 ft) by 240 m (790 ft), 86 m (282 ft) high, and 92 m (302 ft) underground. It has 1,100 rooms, 2 underground parking garages, with four underground levels currently available for the general public and in use, and another four in different stages of completion. The total floor space area, spreading on 12 floors, measures 340,000 m2 (Muntean, 2005). As Bogdan Ghiu explains, it almost seems like the dictator’s distorted perception of scale resided in his aspirations for Bucharest as a world capital rather than focusing on balancing it to the internal urban coordinates (10 April 2012, see appendix A for full interview transcript). In a ‘tabula rasa’ gesture, one sixth of the city’s central area was demolished along with fourteen churches, two monasteries with uniquely indigenous expressions, and numerous modernist and ‘fin de siècle’ masterpieces (Ivan, 2006: 38). The demolition process started in 1978 and to initiate construction, more than 40.000 people were dislocated. In her description of the architectural and urban characteristics that defined the aura of the old city, Barris (2001) summarizes: ‘serpentine streets full of greenery, houses with spacious courts, and varied architectural styles reflecting the dual influences of East and West-Ottoman or Turkish-inspired courtyard housing and German-influenced mercantile structures, both united with a French Neoclassical influence in the nineteenth century and assimilated into a form of national romanticism by the end of that century.’


The People’s House was a revenge gesture upon the city’s old urban fabric, a fortress which the dictator could use as a point of refuge from an urban texture which in essence, he considered to be hostile, overwhelming and which he failed to understand. Doina Petrescu (1999) explores the edifice’s dual, yet paradoxical nature: although it had been constructed following the logics of the ‘wonder’ - aimed to astonish through grandeur and purpose - it inevitably mutated into a ’monster’ that inscribed a whole nation in the tyrant’s mad ambition to succumb the existing urban realm to his own cathartic canons. Ceausescu’s architecture is a formulation of defiance and excess, stemming from his inner frustrations and insecurities, terrified by the possible threats the existing urban realm could pose on his newly formulated political structure. Attacking the previous layers, ‘raping’ the city in the most savage sense seemed to be the only way he could inflict his psychotic ideologies upon the city and the masses.

(28) Overleaf: The House of People, Bucharest. Stills from the documentary ‘Architecture and Power‘ (1993)


film stills


B. THE UNION BOULEVARD The frantic need for absolute control stems from paranoiac tendencies and in the case of political tyrants, it is architecture that becomes the drug that feeds their obsession to the point of self-destruction. This is what Sudjic (2005) refers to as the ‘Edifice Complex’ according to whom it is building that offers the direct means ‘by which the individual’s egotism is expressed in its most naked form’. By extension, it is architecture that seduced Ceausescu’s ego and fueled his hubris the point where the power-scale relationship was distorted to such a degree that city’s texture was asphyxiated: small, single-storey residential buildings belonging to the old power and intellectual elite quarters lining the winding, narrow streets of the old grid (Florin Serbanescu, 9 April 2012, see appendix A for full interview transcript) were replaced by wide boulevards and tall concrete blocks as a form of ‘insulation of the spiritual, geographical and aesthetic aspects of the city’ (Duda, 12 April 2012, see appendix A for full interview transcript). Ceasusescu’s desire for immortality is further evoked through the performative violation of the rest of the city’s core and the introduction of a redefining network of boulevards in an attempt to annul any adherence to the prior urban context. In an extremely crude manner, the destruction of large swathes of Bucharest’s fabric was meant to evoke Georges-Eugène Hausmann’s restructuring of Paris. The House of People overlooks form its vantage point the Union Boulevard – 2 miles long and 300 ft wide, a bold baroque plan starting at its western extremity with the House of People, crossing the Union Plaza, and ending in Alba-Iulia Plaza towards its eastern end. The main aim of the grand boulevard was to emphasize the House of People as a focal point and accommodate military manifestations. Moreover, its two flanks of apartment buildings designed to lodge prominent members of the Party are evocative of the urban screening phenomenon that my study is aiming to focus on. In the final chapter this issue will be further explored as emphasis will be laid on the inconsistencies the implementation of this technique generated across the urban fabric: ‘residual intra-spaces, unused, denied or bracolated as a warning against the continuation of this attitude today’ (Duda, 2009:45). Analyzing the plan of the new civic centre, its new morphology and disregard to the adjacent old centre’s grid and scale traumatized the urban structure irreversibly. Localities were destroyed, streets were interrupted, acting like a shield between the fallacious appearance of a thriving communist enclave and the reality, concealing high levels of deprivation and squalor following the extensive demolition and relocation schemes. The new centre was completely extraneous to its surroundings, as shown by its street infrastructure which was disjointed from the existing road system. In addition, in order to keep the axis’ direction undisturbed the Dambovita River had to be redirected through an underground canal system. In addition, there was a major shift in terms of programmatic distribution: the specific functions of the historical area mainly dealing with commerce, manufacturing and artistic communities, were superseded by major public, political and administrative functions (Ivan, 2006: 39). (29) Overleaf: diagram of the ‘urban screening‘ phenomenon implemented across the city’s central area


urban screening


As the apotheosis of the new systematization reached its apex, both nature and history were brutally subjugated to the new aesthetic. The nationwide urban renewal process as well as the unsound use of resources aimed at remodeling the cities ‘downtown areas impacted lifestyles in a dramatic way, triggered by ‘the economic crisis, the national debts, the threat of famine, and last not least the isolation from the international community’ (Petrescu, 1999:191). The resentment towards the city centre as a rich, spiritual convergence point for social and commercial activity manifested through the immediate suppression of the religious architecture which was perceived as a threat to the communist ideology. The abolishment of private property (Dinu Giurescu, 12 April 2012, see appendix A for full interview transcript), meant to eradicate any trace of locality that would coagulate and favor social interaction, formulated the breeding of an inhibited mentality, exacerbated under the imperative of a fabricated, artificial environment. Unlike Hausmann’s Paris or the works of Mussolini in Rome, the only scope in the design of the Avenue of the Victory of Socialism was to celebrate its developer’s own aesthetic ideals and competitive spirit while demonstrating that Romania disposed of the financial force to reconstruct the entire country. The massive construction schemes represent the final stage in the psychotic Ceausescu regime, marking the emergence of ‘order as style’, ’a victory of space over place’ (Petcu, 1999:184) by turning the cityscape into a machinery of political control. Providing an objective account of the Romanian Civic Centre can become a particularly challenging task, especially since the mixed feelings and receptions of the Ceausescu projects come into opposition with the intellectual voices: books, studies, international publications. While for the masses the project embodies the idea of beauty, remarkable through size but also style, the more in-depth studies reveal the underlying implications and the enormous waste of energy and resources that were invested on the project seem to have been forgotten. One thing is certain: the House of People and the Union Boulevard do trigger a reaction centered on the ability to shock through formal anomaly, interrupting the continuity of the scenario they are inscribed in. For inhabitants of Bucharest, it has become part of the daily landscape and even if hated or admired it continues to dominate the central area of the city.

(30) Overleaf: The Union Boulevard, Bucharest. Stills from the documentary ‘Architecture and Power‘ (1993)


film stills


1.2.4 aDAPTATION: THE POST DECEMBRIST PERIOD As the influence of Western capitalist democracy takes hold of the Romanian post communist landscape (O’Neill, 2009), the city’s fragments are subdued to a new set of spatial tactics. Moreover, the real problem of the current development is the lack of a framework that would provide the basis for a controlled growth. Nevertheless, the Bucharest of today does not seem to have changed its practice. Self-mutilation is ingrained in its mnemonic strata and instead of taking the post-Decembrist period as an opportunity for reflection and re-assessment of its socialist coma, it embarked upon a frantic rally to catch up with the Westernized world. This anxiety resulted in the addition to a new urban and architectural layer as the country is forced to re-design its evolution without the presence of strong cultural models. The current evolution of the city is chaotic, undirected, characterized by uncertainty and formal disjunction. Many of the buildings have been exploring different identities, attempting to re-adapt to the new programmes introduced by the Westernized invasion. The apartment blocks along the Union Boulevard were transformed into luxury residences and commercial or office spaces, while the House of People accommodates the Parliament Chambers and the Museum of Modern Art. Additionally, a series of empty lots and unfinished projects are a constant reminder of the socialist epoch’s failure: the foundations of the National Opera House along with the Palace of Justice and the National Library. As Ivan (2006) remarks, the struggle between the people and the oppressive symbols continues as they attempt to control and reinterpret the vestiges of the painful socialist memory. With the fall of communism, the problem of building ‘unity in diversity’ (Cinà, 2010:23), an approach that had been frozen during the communist era, revived the set of dilemmas attempted to be resolved prior to the regime instauration. Romania has always been subjected to the European influence and the current liberation from the Socialist regime sets the country against a new set of responsibilities. Bucharest particularly faces new challenges in terms of carving its own urban identity as opposed to being absorbed in the social and economic periphery of Europe that tends to exterminate locality and difference within a globalized context. Although the temptation is great in the light of the restrictions imposed by the postDecembrist period, Bucharest should learn how to shed the skin of capitalist iconography and work towards the outlining of unique evolution patterns through the introspection of its own local cultural archetypes. Criticizing the post-modernist glass tower, an architectural phenomenon ever more present in Bucharest, piercing the city’s skyline, Dinu Giurescu (2012) states: ‘The current regime is infinitely worse than the communist one because the communist regime had an ideology that revolved around the idea of protecting the working class: ‘I will do something for them!’ These tower blocks are like cancerous cells which spread around them even more architectonic dissolution.’ (12th April 2012, see Appendix A for full interview transcript).

urban acupuncture

(31) Master Plan of existing and proposed high-rise buildings, 2002


To summarize, the lack of control over perspectives, the disquieting scale of the socialist architecture, the current state of decay and the insensitive reaction to the city’s fragile body continuously attacked by destructive interventions, are all elements that support the argument that Bucharest has been is the victim of a traumatic fragmentation process. The degeneration of the communist utopia banished any aspirations of urban continuity: ‘We lost the identity of the city; we lost trust in the enduring value of its cultural goods, we have no true urban perception left. We lost historical, urban, atmospheric landmarks. We thus lost the scale of the city. We lost a certain kind of dwelling and its historical specificity. We lost our civic sense and our sentimental connections to the city’ (Bogdan Bogoescu, in Pandele, 2009:75). Having established the boundaries within which fragmentation develops its negative connotations, I continue the analysis of this phenomenon in its positive, constructive sense as a process of distribution, explosion and re-composition in a novel, unexpected manner. Further, this study will provide a basis in exploring the panacean properties the implementation of these techniques would have on Bucharest’s ruptured tissue. (32) Fom horizontal to vertical: diagram illustrating the evolution of the architectural landmark in Bucharest following the shift towards the post-modernist era


1.3 deconstructivist theories 1.3.1 from post-socialist to post-modern The wish to further explore the way the post-socialist city’s transition to modernity channels the study to analyze the contemporary concepts related to urban evolution. The aim of this section is to identify the various interpretations of fragmentation theory as debated by internationally-acclaimed theoreticians, philosophers and architects. By using the case of Bucharest as a recurrent reference point, I am aiming to look deeper into the restructuring opportunities the implementation of such ideological stances would promulgate. Fragmentation theory feeds itself on the heterogeneous condition of today’s metropolis, as a loose agglomeration of quasi-autonomous socio-spatial entities, each evolving independently of the others (Farah, Teller, 2012:93). This is the prevalent mutation pattern governing the post – modern city that, under the pressures of the fluctuating global dynamics, urban sprawl and increasing social diversity is losing its traditional formal, social and economical structure in favour of a rhizomic configuration (Deleuze, Guattari, 1987). The city becomes a non-closed system, a machine whose aim is to provide endless permutations and configurations that give rise to an emergent series of readings and interpretations, embodying ‘deterritorialization’ as an experiential process. If the post-modern city undergoes a shift from unity to ‘pastiche’, the post-socialist city is aiming towards a certain level of urban coherence through a minimization of the communist development. According to Harvey (2009:66), postmodernism nurtures ‘a conception of the urban fabric as necessarily fragmented, a ‘palimpsest’ of past forms superimposed upon each other, and a ‘collage’ of current uses, many of which may be ephemeral.’ The fall of the Soviet Union can be undisputedly regarded as a major turning point which resulted in the case of Bucharest and other former communist countries in a period of mass confusion, urging for a reconsideration of the urban model. The shifts in attitude as the newly born democracies found themselves struggling in yet inexperienced capitalist spheres, brought along even more disillusionment and disorder. The post-modern utopia was a trap. Market-obsessed investors and investment-hungry developers traded urban consistency to accommodate the market’s ambitions, allowing for any type of urban or programmatic structures to be absorbed within the city’s structure (Marozas, 2009). Unsurprisingly, this generated even higher levels of fragmentation, enhancing the burdensome task of architects and urban planners to introduce strategies of coherence and consistency that would respond to the public needs of the city.


Countless small scale interventions, incompatible adaptations and chaotic spatial appropriations are all elements difficult to control, integrate and manage. The post-socialist city, as in the case of Bucharest ‘succeeded’ in destroying even the last-standing remnants of its pre-communist exponential growth patterns. There was no turning back. The city has been irreversibly scarred. In order to create the theoretical base that supports my final interpretations, I will bring to the fore elements belonging to the deconstructivist school of thought whose formal inspirations are closely attuned to the 1920s Russian Constructivist movement. In essence, deconstructivism questions the conventional ways of perceiving form and space (Rago, 2004). It is circumspect of the entire architectural rhetoric promulgating harmony and cohesion, arguing that a rupture from the mundane episteme which wares, devours, exhausts us would eventually infuse our world with unpredicted, startling situations. Considering its recent adherence to the Western lifestyle and economics-based models, this section is meant to reveal that Bucharest should develop a more open, receptive approach towards the available external interpretations revolving around the idea of urban renewal. Embracing and allowing these ideas to manifest could unravel unprecedented insights into how to tackle the city’s current disjointed fabric and how to interpret the latency and the potential behind these interstitial, contested spaces.


1.3.2 CITY OF DISJUNCTIONS: BERNARD TSCHUMI ‘The Architect designs the set, writes the script and directs the actors’ (Tschumi, 1994:129) Tschumi’s writings (1994) are an expression of the architectural condition at the dusk of the twentieth century. Influenced by the events of May 1968, Tschumi was part of the avant-garde generation concerned with developing ideologies that would change society (see appendix B for further details on this event’s influence upon Tschumi’s work). The revelatory aspect of his extensive research stemmed from the idea that architecture was about much more than the translation of the social and political scenarios of an era: it was about the quality of the urban framework to constantly generate unpredicted situations by looking at how the expansion of this invisible archipelago of social and cultural manifestations can be further encouraged. His stance is particularly relevant to my dissertation as it manages to move away from the pejorative, derogatory discourse typically associated with the notion of disjunction and reinterprets these ruptures as an opportunity for architectural revival and liberation, acknowledging their purgative potential. The violent changes emerging in the contemporary city generate situations which cannot be attributed to the traditional program-architecture synergy. Instead, Tschumi proposes a reversal of the classical oppositions, a subversion of the conventional canons, favouring a general displacement of the system (Papadakis, 1998). Since a dislocation of the landscape dematerializes its composition, ruptures its inner order, desacralizes its aura, it eventually becomes an expansive neutral space. This leads to the formation of a conceptual framework which allows endless programmatic permutations and inter-changes. The disjunction between event and architecture is a topic that fascinated Tschumi as a direct reaction to de-emphasise built composition in favour of mobility. In an attempt to disrupt the dogmatic purity of the architectural form, Tschumi developed a series of programmatic extensions including cross-programming (e.g. using a church building for bowling), trans-programming (e.g. combining a planetarium with a roller coaster) and disprogramming (combining two or more programs whereby one contaminates the other and vice-versa typological juxtaposition) as explorations of the content – container relationship. The intertwining of these operations allows for endless opportunities of combination and permutation that associate any given space with a series of alien activities, training architecture’s inhabitants in new ways of spatial praxis and ultimately, experience. Tschumi parallels the disjointed nature of architecture to the combinatory system of language where the fragments echo dialectical complexity rather than rupture. For Tschumi, it is the juxtaposition of these fragments that make up our projection upon the surrounding world, and it is the in-between spaces that compose his object of interest. ‘How such fragments are organized matters little: volume, height, surface, degree of closure, or whatever’ (Tschumi, 1994:95). Moreover, it is not the friction between these contradictory fragments that matters, but the movement between them, the inner choreography of the in-between spaces whose patterns will be explored through the study of montage techniques in the following chapter. Whether these elements are looked at as intruders or plain leftovers at the end of the production cycle, it is this network of randomized components

‘The Architect designs the set, writes the script and directs the actors.’ (Tschumi, 1994;129)

(33) Bernard Tschumi. Architectural Design 64


Bucharest’s socialist past reveals a layer which compact structure overpowers the city and its previous attempts to evolve in an organic, instinctive fashion. If we were to apply Tschumi’s theories, could a demystification of the deeply rooted communist stratum be achieved through its injection with events that contradict its original purpose? Could this mean that a scrambling of the soviet concrete screens would provide us with a neutralized base ready to be dispersed along the layers of the past? And finally, could death, decomposition, lead in this case to rebirth, reinvention? Transgression is rarely debated in architecture. This is the result of the puritanical approach of architectural theories that choose to ignore society’s ‘secretly delights in crime, excess and violated prohibitions of all sorts’ (Tschumi, 1994:65). Nevertheless, the transgression that Tschumi proposes looks beyond the traditional borders of what is usually observed when introducing new articulations taking it past the outlines society expected by the society. ‘Architecture seems to survive where it negates itself, […] where it transcends its paradoxical nature by negating the form that society expects it to be’ (Tschumi, 1994:64). The movement, or better said, the violation of the space through the moving bodies decomposes space and reassembles it in such a way that a new series of complex relations emerge. Architecture stands for Tschumi at the critical confrontation point between space and activity, stemming from the clash of mutually exclusive or contradictory terms. Architecture is the offspring of the paradox which can translate into pleasure and equally, into a violence that could shatter society’s conservative elements. These two premonitory statements lead Tschumi to the conclusion that architecture is inherently disjointed, fragmented and turns his analysis towards other disciplines including Eisenstein’s and Vertov’s film theories to support his argument (1994:17). The concept of montage is defined by the action of fragmenting reality and then reassembling it under the principle of a conflictive order. Without expanding on this principle of reconfiguration, the following chapter will provide an in-depth analysis in the theories of montage. Shall I consider Tshcumi’s understanding of transgression, it is inevitable not to parallel it to the megalomaniac communist intervention upon Bucharest. Doina Petrescu (1999) explores the paradoxical tandem wonder – monster, underlining the discordance between intention and representation. Constructed under the logics of the monument, and concealing its true purpose behind a deceiving/cynical title, ‘The House of People’ never actually belonged to the people. Instead, it was meant to be a gift from them to their dictator. (Pandele, 2009:14). . It was meant to astonish, to have its gazers observe it in complete awe and celebrate the magnificence of the Romanian communist regime. By definition, the monument is a rupture from reality, a structure that transports us through time; it is enduring evidence, a testament to a remarkable figure, in stark opposition with the complexities of the actual life and in this case with the atrocities and inhumane treatment the people were subjected to in order to for the monolith to take shape.


The House of People raped the city, and the large scale interventions diluted its identity to the point where it left Bucharest paralyzed. ‘Surrounded by a metaphorical moat of void space’ (Barris, 2001), the edifice was entrenched on the wounds of a city mourning its past. The lack of a fixed plan and the continuous addition of floors at the whimsical wave of the Conducator (Pandele, 2009), transfigured it into the monster currently crushing the city’s skyline. Transgression indeed, but not in the sense Tschumi is discussing. This leads us to our following question: Where does violation stop being abuse and where does it start acquiring its cathartic properties? The answer lies at the essence of Tschumi’s manifesto: it is the balance of powers that will enable architecture reach its condition as both ‘concept and experience, space and use, structure and superficial image’ (1994:253). If I attempted to apply these tenets of anti-hierarchy, I would be able to achieve liberation of Bucharest and reconcile its communist strata with the city’s history and future. Without further expanding on this aspect of Tschumi’s paradigm, this approach will provide a solid theoretical basis for the experiments developed in the final part of this study.

(34) Contrasting movements with spaces: The Manhattan Transcripts, Bernard Tschumi (1994).


(T.1) Displacement

(T.2) Urban ‘scrambling‘ as demystification

(T.3) Transgression

(T.4) Cross-programming

(T.5) Trans-programming

(T.6) Dis-programming

(T.7) Communist scheme as violation

(T.8) House of People: monster or ...



1.3.3 GENERIC CITY: REM KOOLHAAS ‘Convergence is only possible at the price of shedding identity. That is usually seen as a loss. But at the scale at which it occurs, it must mean something. What are the disadvantages of identity, and conversely, what are the advantages of blankness? What if this seemingly accidental – and usually regretted – homogenization were an international process, a conscious movement away from difference toward similarity?’ (Koolhaas and Mau: S, M, L, XL, 1995:1248). In his influential writings on urbanism, Koolhaas (1992, 1995) voices radical criticism in terms of the traditional dialectic of today’s metropolis whose fervent quest for identity consumes and imprisons any opportunities for transcendence, be it in terms of expansion, reinvention or contradiction. His stance becomes particularly relevant to the purpose of this study as it blatantly opposes the conventional attitude towards the past: he militates for a rejection of the perennial, for liberation from the obsessive grasp to historical layers, while heralding the advent of a Generic City (Koolhaas, 1995) as an infinitely repetitive, uncontrollable, independent entity. Instead of mourning the gradual extinction of local practices, Koolhaas calls for a celebration of the unknown as the prevalent characteristic of the contemporary city, increasingly shaped by the unstoppable forces of globalization, cyber-space and mass-culture. For Koolhaas, cities are rapidly emergent entities that undergo endless mutation cycles, making their association with a sole, all-encompassing identity impossible. Furthermore, his thesis touches upon the issue of hierarchy as a destructive, inhibitive system of urban organization: under the megalomaniac pressures of identity conservation, not only does the ‘concentric obsession’ (Koolhaas, 1995:129) morph into a rotten core of the city, but it will inevitably lead to self-annihilation - ‘It is the city without history(…) If it gets old it just deconstructs and renews’(Koolhaas, 1994: 1249). As the urban texture expands, the ties between periphery and centre dissolve, exhausting the core’s condition as a mythical creature feeding on the fear and obedience of its vicinities by immersing it into the sea of sameness, of standardization. The comparison between Koolhaas’s stance and the case of Bucharest becomes an interesting endeavour, especially since the city is undergoing a continuous battle with its multiple identities while trying to meet its voracity for Western influences. Does Koolhaas’s vision announce Bucharest’s eventual release from its schizophrenic condition (considering it is entanglement into the web of ‘globalization’) through the cultivation of non-identity? Could an abandonment of its non-functional organs provide the city with the clean slate it is longing for? Finally, should we respond to the trauma of erasure with erasure, wouldn’t this qualify as a vindictive act against the past once again?

‘...What are the disadvantages of identity and conversely, what are the advantages of blankness?’ (Koolhaas and Mau: S, M, L, XL, 1995:1248)

image koolhaas + quote

(35) OMA, Seattle Central Library, 2004


As Koolhaas prophesizes the ideological outlines for a universal architecture, he does not provide a fixed recipe on the formal specificities such a place would acquire in time. Nevertheless, what is captivating about this ambiguity is the decentralization such a structure promotes, ensuring a chance to immortality. An immortality of the system, and not of the material components which are in essence ephemeral, enabling us to break away from the seducing ties of nostalgia. Additionally, since the plan is discussed as an indeterminate structure ready to be endlessly propagated across the entire city and support any desired programme, the correspondence between the container and the contained becomes irrelevant. As Tshcumi hinted at, the permutations and possibilities carve an indefinite number of scenarios and finally, uncertainties leading to a sort of programmatic alchemy. This is the beauty of Koolhaas’s Generic City: its regime of freedom generates a new state of urbanity as an unintelligible assemblage of past and new orders. This approach lends itself to a particular debate, especially when studying the case of Bucharest which could potentially become one of the floating signifiers (Gilbert, 2003) within the global matrix of sameness. By extension, the interpretation of the Union Boulevard – House of People tandem as a possible city centre becomes futile within the context of a ‘rhizomic assemblage’ (Shane, 2005), based on horizontal multiplicity and heterogeneity. Nevertheless, one can easily identify the clues within the current evolution of the city that indicate the beginning of its metamorphosis into a Generic City – the programmatic re-adaptation of the ex-communist blocks of flats along the main axis, unravel the consumerist ethos that has taken over the metropolis. Large banners draping the concrete facades, fervidly flickering screens, the oversized logos crowning the top of each building represent the new layer of ‘junk-space’ (Koolhaas, 1998) meant to distract from Bucharest’s fissured walls. What happens when the post-socialist city embracing the Western consumerist tendencies produces the disease of Junkspace? It almost seems like everything in Bucharest is carried out with a performative scope, with the need to satisfy some stringent need for a never-ending spectacle. This need for flamboyance can be traced back Ceausescu’s architectural exercise that seems to bear an uncanny resemblance to the idea of the American mall or even Disneyland in terms of the play between reality and fantasy (Salecl, 1999). If this follows the idea that any city will become in the future a bigger or a smaller spot as part of a worldwide economical and cultural network, then the concept needs to be further detailed. Koolhaas’ approach lacks any concern about the social issues raised by the city. A programmatic, data-driven solution would hardly be accepted by Romanian society as questions related to the memory of the place, history, tradition, and even traditional inter-human relations are still strong local characteristics.


(K.1) Eradication of the centre

(K.2) Decentralization

(K.3) Self-propagating City

(K.4) Rejection of history

(K.5) Programmatic diffusion

(K.6) Programmatic strips (Parc de la Vilette competition entry)

(K.7) Post-socialist Bucharest: capitalist invasion

(K.8) The Union Boulevard as Junkspace

(K.9) The Society of Spectacle


1.3.4 CITY OF SCARS: LEBBEUS WOODS ‘The revolution never created an architecture. Now it is architecture’s turn…to create a revolution’ (Woods in Architecture Again and Noever, 1996: 35). Woods’ (1996) approach is particularly interesting in the reinterpretation of the wounds within the city’s organism as an opportunity to expose the aesthetics of decay and encourage the acceptance of a violent past through reflection. According to Woods (1996?), the superficial improvement of these incisions is a cowardice act attempting to cosmeticize the ‘unpredictable violent effects of war, political regimes, or natural calamities’ (Ivan, 2006:117) as opposed to confronting history. The aim should be to treat the source of the trauma, and not only its brutal, aesthetic effects upon the urban texture. Although radical, this method is remarkable through its psychological implications upon the residents inhabiting the mutilated city: by digging into the collective subconscious, people would be given the opportunity to face the past as opposed to denying it and thus they would eventually reach closure and relief. As a result, the relationship of the individual with the city is reinforced and an undeniable emotional connection takes shape. Operating on a mental level becomes essential as opposed to erasing memories through radical gestures of ‘tabula rasa’ as proposed by Koolhaas earlier in the chapter. Indeed, the city should evolve and regenerate, but the drama of the violent destruction acts should also be absorbed within the city’s walls as ‘we should continue, on a necessarily masochistic note, to learn and assume the truth’ (Ioan, 2006). By engaging in this cathartic journey of painful reminiscence, people need to accept the presence of the scars as part of their daily life, embrace the agony of losses with dignity and build their hopes for the future on what has been gained. For Woods (1996), the city is a pulsating organism, bleeding stories of destructive political regimes and wars which contaminated its structure. Why this shame of decay when it can become the fuel for future approaches in healing the city? On a similar level lies Tschumi’s (1994:65) stance on the notion of transgression underlying the subconscious qualms of the current architectural dialectic: the dread of death and most importantly the repulsion of decomposing, decaying organisms and the passing of time: ‘putrefying buildings were seen as unacceptable but white, dry ruins afforded decency and respectability’. Tschumi’s ‘Architectural Paradox’(1994:27) finds its resolution in the exploration of the concept of tanathos (in translation from Greek – ‘death’), as architecture springs at the ‘rotting point’ between life and death: it is at this proscribed meeting place where the contradiction between concept and experience that taboos and culture have previously rejected resolves itself. Woods’ formal approach to the reconstruction of the residual spaces echoes Tschumi’s manifesto, celebrating decomposition through the pivotal role it is assigned throughout his designs. Not only is the wound given the opportunity to heal at its own pace, but should the virus persist in contaminating the inner and external structure, it expands and acquires its place within the collective memory.

‘The revolution never created an architecture. Now it is architecture’s turn to create a revolution’ (Woods in Architecture Again and Noever, 1996: 35)

(36) Lebbeus Woods, La Habana Vieja, Spontaneous Building Model, 1997


Particularly relevant to this study are Wood’s projects in Sarajevo and Havana selected as the ideal ‘patients’ for radical implementations. Although at a first glance his experimental propositions might come across as irrational landscapes, they are nevertheless ‘extensions of reason’, ‘nomads of the body, refugees of the mind’ (Woods, 1997:13) that reconcile the relationship between people and the environment they inhabit. Havana does not only transpire decay but also a level of vitality, of energy that fascinates Woods – ‘So, how to accelerate both at the same time?’(Woods, 1996:73). Similarly to Bucharest, Sarajevo has been subjected to an embellishment process following its painful losses during the prolonged siege (1992-1994). Inspired by the remnants of the bombarded city, Woods (1992) started exploring critical edges of urban life through the reinterpretation of the post-impact ‘normality’. Since many of the buildings cannot return to their previous bureaucratic functions and therefore, they need to be infused with a new programme. Similarly to Koolhaas and Tschumi (see Appendix B for an in depth analysis of their applied theories), ‘heterarchy’ (1992: 36) as opposed to ‘hierarchy’ seems to the principle Wood’s work is also governed by. The symbolic, parasitic structures clinging to the architectural corpses are mean to resuscitate meaning and challenge popular thought. Woods’ designs are like a vaccine, injecting the traumatized fabric with the very virus that contaminated it in the first place in order to contribute towards its immunisation through time. The gaping wound is allowed to fuse into an amorphous mutation referred to as a scab which will later reveal the scar as an urban metaphor. Where does Bucharest sit within this process? The city has been waiting for its restoration and all it receives is a fanciful wrapping of its untreated wounds in glittering banners and glamorous façades. The real problem is not that Bucharest is still undergoing its ‘scab phase’ (Ivan, 2006), but that the recovery process is painfully slowed down through the undermining of the effects its chronic disease would reveal over time.


(W.1) Berlin: virus as memory

(W.2) Havana: decay and regeneration

(W.3) Sarajevo: constructing the ‘scab’

(W.4) Bucharest: identifying the wound

(W.5) The House of People as climax

(W.6) ‘Scabs’ along the Union Boulevard


1.3.5 CITY OF MEMORY: DANIEL LIBESKIND ‘The city is the greatest spiritual creation of humanity; a collective work which develops the expression of culture, society and the individual in time and space. Its structure is intrinsically mysterious, developing more like a dream than a piece of equipment. Given this, alternatives are required to traditional urban planning ideas, which imply continuity based on projection. My own project in search of the contemporary city represents one possible alternative, an approach which understands and celebrates the city as an evolving, poetic and unpredictable event.’ (Libeskind in Leach, 1999:129). When evoking the issue of urban and architectural memory, few could be more entitled to join the debate than Daniel Libeskind. Born in Poland and of Jewish descent, Libeskind’s approach lies at the critical point between the temptation to ‘erase the traces’ of a violent past and that of ‘a nihilistic reconstruction of the past’ (Leach, 1999:6). Entirely committed to retaining the memory of the city, he distances his theories from the conventional reaction to the ex-communist enclaves oozing with resent and repulsion and proposes a heuristic exploration of the traumatized tissue. Trauma can lead to a temporary amnesiac behaviour or in Freudian terms a ‘repression of memory’ (Benjamin, 2010). Such ‘spaces of crisis’ are also identified by Lebbeus Woods (Read, 2000:199) as pregnant with opportunities for revelation rather than vindictive erasure - the collapse of a building for example can unravel us the mystic rhythms of inner workings and inform new uses and formal interpretations. Libeskind opposes the Cartesian dogmas of the master-plan branding it as a mechanism which does nothing but propagate the mistakes we are desperately trying to escape. Instead, we should aim to develop strategies which will allow a metamorphosis of the urban realities into unpredictable, flexible and hybrid architectures (Libeskind in Leach, 1999). Discontinuity becomes a generator of situations, liberating the city from the strains of contextualism and utopianism. The people need to understand the importance of preserving such artefacts of their past and find the balance between nostalgic historicism and the tabula rasa totalitarianism, between simulation and destruction. As a result, the past needs to become a part of the future - ‘When we remember we are not in the past. We are always remembering now.’ (Libeskind in Leach, 1999). With the preservation of icons, the city becomes a visceral theatre of experience, a machine for staging memories of tumultuous experiences that encourage a continuous confrontation between the people and the truth of their past. Examples such as the destructions during the Holocaust or the fall of the Berlin Wall echo Libeskind’s commendable stand. Since memory cannot be forcibly repressed, such places should reclaim their position within the city’s texture and operate as loci of reminiscence. Contrary to being treated as mishaps, as outcasts or handicapped off-springs of history they should be adopted by the collective memory.

image libeskind + quote

‘My own project in search of the contemporary city represents one possible alternative, an approach which understands and celebrates the city as an evolving, poetic and unpredictable event.’ (Libeskind in Leach, 1999:129)

(37) Daniel Libeskind, Jewish Museum atrium, 2001


Casting a view upon the case of Bucharest, the importance of Libeskind’s theories is undeniable. Both the House of People and the Union Boulevard have tried to be integrated within the urban whole under the principle of minimization, vehemently opposing Libeskind’s edification of ‘historical debris’, as a form of ‘interrogating history’ (Ioan, 2001) and introspection. The Bucharest 2000 International Competition represented an attempt to catalyze the ‘healing of the wound’, embedding the language of social and political trauma before the competition had even started (Barris, 2008). Although it generated a wide range of responses, it resulted in the selection of a project by the German architect Meinhard von Gerkan. The proposal gave Bucharest what it asked for: a conventional master-plan which allowed for a gradual implementation and eventual alterations, being ‘the least likely to evoke or challenge the experience of trauma which the competition had been designed to heal’ (Barris, 2008). Although the project never came into being, it revealed the conceptual framework at the time: the idea of trauma was completely dismissed in favor of the reinforcing the centrality of the area within the urban matrix, all wrapped under the post-modernist aura of beautification - the symbolic destruction of the communist project was thus achieved, acting the conceptual guidance for future interventions. In 1988, Libeskind won the competition for the Jewish Museum in Berlin. It was the perfect opportunity to express a complex history of oppression while challenging historical and spatial narratives. Absence became the leitmotif in Libeskind’s design with the architectural void as the central metaphor around which the building is staged. Although the building took essentially ten years to complete, this was finally achieved. Although different in size and scope, both the Jewish Museum and the Bucharest project were conceptualized as part of a healing ritual the exploration of which was essential following a trauma of indescribable proportions. Nevertheless, how come such projects achieved completion in Berlin and not in Bucharest? Could it be because the Romanian capital underestimated the importance of achieving closure of the wounds across the collective subconscious before moving on to the actual regeneration schemes? These aspects will be further debated in the third chapters of the thesis when we will undertake a deeper analysis of Berlin as a city that managed to absorb its past and retrieve it under the form symbols belonging to the people, ‘a histogram of invisible realities and their relations, a graph in time and space describing the equation of a city’s soul’ (Libeskind in Leach, 1999:129).


(L.1) Bucharest: fragments of the past

(L.2) Flexible urbanism

(L.3) Facing memories

(L.4) Celebration of the past as opposed to... minimization.

Bucharest 2000: Meinhard von Gerkan

(L.5) Bucharest 2000: juxtaposing

Model of a Layered City



1.4 CHAPTER CONCLUSION The theories presented above demonstrate that the palette of possibilities is much broader than expected. Ranging from Bernard Tschumi’s theories of disjunction, to Rem Koolhaas’ visions free of intellectual prejudice to Libeskind’s and Wood’s circumspect attitude towards the past, the affected areas of Bucharest certainly have models to follow. The multitude of ideas comes to show one more time the complexity of the world we live in. Few realized that adopting a democracy shifted the complexity of daily situations to a much higher level than in the past. The same path is followed by the city’s evolution as well. Multiple functions, increasing traffic and population, and various social groups are factors that cannot be controlled with traditional approaches. In addition, as the society’s tendency is to adopt the multitude of characteristics of Western lifestyles, the broader theoretical views should follow the same trend.


1.5 REFERENCES Architecture Again, & Noever, P. (1996). The Havana project: Architecture Again : international conference on architecture, Havana , Cuba. Munich , Prestel. Barris, R. (2001). The Rape of Bucharest. ArtMarginsOnline, [online] 20 December. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 May 2012]. Barris, R. (2008). Architectures of Memory and Counter-Memory: Berlin and Bucharest. Radford University. Available at: < > [Accessed 21 April 2012]. Benjamin, A., (2010), Trauma Within the Walls: Notes Towards a Philosophy of the City, Architectural Design Magazine, Vol. 80, No. 5, pp. 24 -31. Cavalcanti, M. D. (1998). Urban reconstruction and autocratic regimes: Ceausescu’s Bucharest in its historic context. Sage Urban Studies Abstracts. 26. Chittenden, M., Rogers, L. and Smith, D., (2003). Focus: ‘Targetitis ails NHS. Times Online, [online]1 June. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 March 2012]. Cinà, G. (2010). Bucharest, from village to metropolis: urban identity and new trends. Bucureşti, Capitel. Choate, K. (2010). “From “Stalinkas” to “Khrushchevkas”: The Transition to Minimalism in Urban Residential Interiors in the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964” . All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. Paper 628. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 May 2012]. Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis , University of Minnesota Press. Duda, M., (2009). Bucharest and It’s Screening Devices, Anals of Spiru Haret University, Architecture Series, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 92 -109. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 March 2012]. Farah, J.,Teller, J. (2012). Bricolage Planning: Understanding Planning in a Fragmented City, Urban Development, Serafeim Polyzos (Ed.), InTech. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 July 2012].


Gavris, M. & Zahariade, A.M., (2002), The Neo-Romanian Style – Elements of Language, Genius Loci, ed. by. C. Popescu, I. Teodorescu, Simetria, Bucuresti, 2002. Gilbert, M. (2003), on beyond koolhaas: Identity, Sameness and the Crisis of City Planning. Giurescu, C. C. (1966). Istoria Bucureştilor din cele mai vechi timpuri pînă în zilele noastre. Bucureşti, Editura pentru Literaturǎ. Harvey, D. (1990). The condition of postmodernity: an enquiry into the origins of cultural change. Oxford [England], Blackwell. Ioan, A.(2006). The History of Nothing: Contemporary Architecture and Public Space in Romania. ArtMarginsOnline [online] 3 December. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2012]. Ioan, A. (2001), Bucharest - Memory Walled-In, Plural – Magazine. Available online at: < > [Accessed 04 July 2012]. Ivan, M. (2006), Rethinking the Axis: Approaches in the Development of Communist Initiated/uncompleted Architecture in Bucharest After 1989. OhioLink ETD Center. Available at: < cgi?acc_num=ucin1155584865> [Accessed 20 May 2012]. Koolhaas, R. (1995). Generic city. Sassenheim, Sikkens Foundation. Koolhaas, R. (2002), Junkspace, October, Vol. 100, Obsolescence, pp. 175-190. Lascu, N. (2011). Bulevardele Bucureştene: pânǎ la primul război mondial. Bucureşti, Simetria. Libeskind, D. (1999). Traces of the unborn, in Leach, N. (ed), Architecture and revolution: contemporary perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe, London , Routledge, pp. 127-129. Marginean, M. (2008). Aesthetic Mechanisms of Stalinization in Romanian Architecture: The Case of Hunedoara, 1947-1954, University of Saskatchewan Library Electronic Theses & Dissertations. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 July 2012]. Marozas, M. (2009), Post-Socialist City, Adaptation of USSR-made urban structures in Lithuania. Available online at: < [Accessed 04 July 2012]. Muntean, M. N. (2005). Inside the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest, [online] 25 May. Available at: < > [Accessed 18 January 2012].


The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. OED Online. Oxford University Press. Available at: < > [Accessed 14 June 2012]. Pandele, A. (2009). The House of the People - the end, in marble. Bucureşti, Compania. Papadakēs, A. (1988). Deconstruction in architecture. London , Architectural Design. Pănoiu, A., & Lascu. N. (2011). Evoluţia oraşului Bucureşti. Bucureşti, Editura Fundaţiei Arhitext Design. Petcu, C. (1999). Totalitarian city: Bucharest 1980–9, semio-clinical files, in Leach, N (ed), Architecture and revolution: contemporary perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe, London , Routledge, pp. 177-187. Petrescu, D. (1999). The People’s House, or the voluptuous violence of an architectural paradox, in Leach, N (ed), Architecture and revolution: contemporary perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe, London , Routledge, pp. 188-195. Rago, D. (2004). Deconstructive Architecture and Daniel Libeskind: A discourse on deconstruction, its relation to architecture, and its influence on Daniel Libeskind’s architecture, Leigh University Online Library. Available at: < > [Accessed 23 May 2012] Salecl, C. (1999). The state as a work of art: the trauma of Ceausescu’s Disneyland, in Leach, N. (ed), Architecture and revolution: contemporary perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe, London, Routledge, pp. 92-111. Sandqvist, T. (2006). Dada East: the Romanians of Cabaret Voltaire. Cambridge , MIT Press. Shane, D. G. (2005). Recombinant urbanism: conceptual modeling in architecture, urban design, and city theory. Chichester , Wiley-Academy. Sudjic, D. (2005). The edifice complex: how the rich and powerful shape the world. New York , Penguin Press. Tismăneanu, V. (2005). Stalinism pentru eternitate: o istorie politică a comunismului românesc. Iaşi, Ed. Polirom. Tschumi, B. (1994). Architecture and disjunction. Cambridge , Mass, MIT Press. Tismaneanu, V. (2004). “Understanding National Stalinism, Legacies of Ceausescu’s Socialism,” in Romania since 1989, ed. Henry F. Carey, Oxford, UK: Lexington Books, p. 33. Woods, L. (1992). Anarchitecture: architecture is a political act. London , Academy Editions.


Woods, L. (1997). Radical reconstruction. New York , Princeton Architectural Press. Woods, L. (2000). No Man’s Land, in Read, A. (ed), speaking practices of art, architecture, and the everyday. London, Routledge, pp. 199 -210. Woods, L., (2007). Without Walls: An Interview with Lebbeus Woods, Interview by BLDGBLOG, 3 October 2007. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2012] Zinovieva, O., (2009). A Journey into Stalinist Moscow of the 1930s – 1950s, Passport Magazine, [online] April. Available at: <> [Accessed 12 June 2012].


2.1 CHAPTER OBJECTIVES If Bucharest’s organic, unpredictable development was acknowledged as contributing towards its general charm and flavour (Ivan, 2006: 116), the current urban ‘pastiche’ unravels a profound crisis in the way the planning discipline has tackled past traumas. The destructive systematization plans may have temporarily numbed the city’s fabric, but they have certainly not tamed it. Its Procustean (from Greek myth of Procustes – ‘he who stretches’) mutilation by the strings of the totalitarian regime dismembered its frail body and scattered it across the city. Bucharest can never formulate dreams of urban continuity and coherence, given its profoundly contaminated texture and so we should attempt to develop a pattern by which the future layers can adhere to its body in a non-disruptive manner. We own fragments, pieces of different realities, telling stories of equally glorious and tormented times; we stumble across beginnings and ends, points of climax and of temporary resolution, crippled by the new high-rise, flamboyant protagonists. With that in mind, the following question is raised: Is there any way to reassemble these elements into a coherent plot structure? By extension, could a strategy meant to fill in these liminal spaces with new meanings and develop refreshing narrative patterns that could be absorbed into the city’s body be developed? The core of the research aggregates an analysis of the aesthetic and programmatic disjunctions resulted from the previously debated totalitarian systematization scheme and the possible re-assemblage techniques of the existing and future urban fragments through the application of film theories. These constitute the focus of the following section. Consequently, I have decided to turn my attention to the principles underlying the Soviet montage elaborated during the mid-twentieth century avant-garde Russian era. Since any radical physical interventions upon the city’s fabric would be fatal at this point, film theory seems to provide the structural grounds that would enable it to focus its frenzied expansion. Firstly, this chapter will specifically focus on the techniques developed by the major figures including Lev Kuleshov whose experimental approach to montage showed that structuring a film through the cutting, editing and juxtaposing of the images are essential techniques in the art of filmmaking. The unique role of montage was also explored by Sergei Eisenstein, who believed that film montage could create ideas or meanings beyond the individual shots. His approach to disjunction will be later on correlated to Tschumi’s theories as a radical means to reinterpret the ruptures within Bucharest’s tissue. An alternative model to that of Eisenstein is provided by Andrei Tarkovski (1987), whose means of conveying experience relied on an unadulterated temporal flow within individual shots, merging the poetic and the naturalistic (Anninski, 1991). Finally, bringing these theories together is Gilles Deleuze (1989, 1992) who casts a philosophical view upon the notions of temporality and the moving image as elements which can be extended beyond the filmic structure to the very rhythms of our every - day life. Additionally, Deleuze’s approach formulates the ideal transition to the second part of the chapter which explores the relationship between representation and motion within the context of the urban realm.


Secondly, I examine the existing urban narrative studies exploring the importance of establishing an emotional connection between the urban environment and human perception. Thus, a new dialectic emerges which interprets the corporeal movement through space and the unfolding images as the turning point where architecture itself becomes moving image, producing a new spatio-visuality (Bruno, 1997). Thirdly, the theme of urban re-appropriation is discussed through an analysis of the techniques employed by the Situationist Movement aiming to attack and destabilize order through the infiltration of dis-order and non-sense. In this respect, the elaborated strategies referred to as ‘dérive’ and ‘détournement’, offering new opportunities of spatial and ideological exploration through drifting and respectively, through a satirical subversion of the original meaning will form the central object of the study. Inspired by the work of a group of Romanian engineers and architects who managed to save a variety of heritage and religious buildings by mounting them on wheels and moving them along train track systems across the city (Speteanu, 2011), I plan to reinterpret the issue of architectural mobility while shifting the relationship between people – ‘gazers’ and buildings – ‘the gazees’ (Urry, 2002). Thus, it is the buildings who will become the flâneurs, the wanderers through the city while the perception upon the urban fabric will be challenged on various levels. By drawing parallels between the ideologies underlying the theories of cinematic montage and narrative on the one hand and architecture and urbanism on the other, the following chapter focuses on the relationship between spatial perception and corporeal movement, by constantly playing on the shift between static and mobile.


2.2 INTRODUCTION TO MONTAGE THEORY Before moving on to the analysis of the strategies underlining the Soviet montage theories, it is essential for us to achieve a deeper understanding of the overall political and social context which contributed to the development and evolution of montage as a form of ‘political rhetoric’ (Russell, 2009: iv). A key historical moment in Russia’s history, the 1917 Bolshevik revolution occurred due to a nationwide crisis afflicting social, economic and political relations. It consisted in the overthrowing of the Provisional Government. Following Russia’s disastrous participation in the World War I (1914-1918), the country entered an era of growing unrest as the people lost faith in the war effort. The intensification of disorders in industry and transport, paralleled by the shortages of provisions and the economical fatigue led to the staging of a riot in the Russian capital of Petrograd and the rise of the Bolshevik party which seized the control of the government and ushered the country into the Soviet era. The abrupt ending of centuries of imperial rule and the formation of the new, radical Bolshevik assembly led by Vladimir Lenin (1870 - 1924), set in motion various political and social changes which launched the birth of communism. Before and in the aftermath of the political revolution, the Russian avant-garde movement flourished as a period of intense experimentation and a conceptual cross-fertilization among all fields of art, including cinema. Although the Tsarist film industry was privately-owned and its topics were ‘overwhelmingly derived from literary texts, plays, novels, poems or myths’ (Stephen Hutchings, 29 May 2012, see appendix A for full interview transcript), it lead to the formation of a strong infrastructure which the remarkable avantgarde ferment of the 1920’s used as a means of propelling the regime’s own ideology through conscious opposition. If Tsarist cinema was largely directed to a semi-intellectual audience, the Soviet cinema aimed at developing a technique that would not only overshadow the past approach, but would most importantly fulfil the party’s utopian vision, largely based on the reconfiguration of art, everyday objects, and finally, of the human aspiration towards a new society. As Hutchings explains: ‘the early post-revolutionary avant-garde in Russia was all about a revolution in form that tended to mount to an equivalent to the revolution in the content of reality.(…) Every-day utensils – how should a teapot differ? What should it look like given that it is now part of a whole new reality?’ In order to obtain the necessary force to fuel the expectations of the radical ideology, appealing to the masses no matter their level of literacy became essential and the regime was aware that the easiest way to gain popular adherence was through meeting the need for spectacle and flamboyance. As a result, a new art form was promoted in an attempt to facilitate the translation of the communist message in a pure, straightforward manner while securing political power, popularizing political goals, and educating the masses: cinema.

‘Peace! Land! Bread!’.

image tsarist cinema

(38) Slogan of the Bolshevik Revolution, 25th October 1917


Nevertheless, if Tsarist cinema was initially used as a means of escapist entertainment from the squalor and routine of every-day life, Soviet montage cinema understood its potential as a ‘symbol of power and industrial modernity’ which the ‘new, radical, modernizing revolutionary government clearly wanted to be associated with’ (Russell, 2009:21). Lenin himself dubbed the moving picture as “the most important of all the arts for us” (Taylor and Christie 1988:57) in a conversation with Lunacharskii and as a result, in 1919, the Russian leader signed a decree by which the film-making industry was nationalized. Creative efforts from within the film school clashed with the avant-garde scene that was forced to readapt the experimental techniques to the dynamics of censorship and the propaganda purposes of the regime. Furthermore, as Socialist Realism was promulgated by Stalin to the status of state policy in 1932, the early Soviet avantgarde was liquidated or confined to obscurity until the fall of the communism in the USSR in 1992. The new purposes envisaged for cinema by the socialist utopia, contributed to the creation of an ideological and political foundation for the emergent theories of the montage directors, ‘who were united in a Marxist interpretation of reality and in their determination to create a consciously political and agitational cinema’(Russel, 2009:24). It was during this period that the pioneering figures in Soviet montage theory came forth as the new generation of film-makers among which Lev Kuleshov, Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov. With the right formulation of montage, they made powerful statements on behalf of the revolutionary change. The fall of communism in Russia prompted the emergence of a new-wave cinema and within this context, the new generation of film-makers perceived the ‘thaw’ in Khrushchev’s party politics (Grant, 2007) based on promises of cultural freedom and a more tolerant climate in terms of film production and diversity. However, it was Andrei Tarkovsky who distinguished himself through a radically different approach to the existing techniques of cinema, by vehemently opposing Eisenstein’s montage technique. Before moving on to explaining how the montage principles expanded their scope beyond the boundaries of film theory and into architecture, let us take a closer look at the creative act of montage in its pure, cinematic sense as interpreted through time by various film-makers. Russian avant-garde icons:

(39) Art: El Lissitzky lithograph, 1919

(40) Architecture: Tatlin’s Tower

(41) Photography: Alexander Rodchenko




In the 1920s, Kuleshov performed a series of tests which formed the subset for the development of montage techniques. One of these experiments, which Kuleshov referred to as ‘fabricated landscapes’ explored the potentials of imagery geography ‘as a demonstration of editing’s ability to create a purely cinematic space’ (Gomery, 1991:117). The innovative technique revealed montage’s true potential to abolish physical constraints: by bringing together fragments of film shot in separated locations across the world, a new, illusory realm emerged that belonged solely to the screen. Although an artificial landscape, the combinatory possibilities were infinite and so, a whole new level of sophistication was added to artistic panoply of film techniques. (42) Merging monumentality: applying Kuleshov’s technique to the Great Pyramid of Giza and The House of People



Moreover, Kuleshov demonstrates the inherent power of montage as a primary tool in the manipulation of the viewer’s perception through what has been famously coined to as ‘The Kuleshov Effect’. According to him, cinema consists of fragments and it is their combination rather than their content that is essential in evoking and triggering different emotions. Roland Levaco (1976) believes that, Kuleshov’s original experiment consisted in taking a single, long shot of actor Mozhukhin’s face, frozen in a neutral emotion while editing it next to different objects he appeared to be glancing at: a girl in a coffin, a bowl of soup, and a woman. As a result, the audience read different emotions of sadness, hunger or lust into the actor’s passive expression, acclaiming the versatility of his acting techniques (Gomery, 1991:117). The essence of Kuleshov’s effect lies in the ability to play with the spectator’s perception, with the mind’s ability to fill in the blanks and infer emotions in their very absence. We immerse into the experience our subconscious intuitively forges to the point where we overlook the actual condition of the independent fragments. We are tempted, provoked and finally, skillfully manoeuvred through self-persuasion. This is the reason why this cinematic effect represented a groundbreaking moment in montage theory and generated such a strong reaction.


Moreover, the correlation between Kuleshov’s effect and the build realm has been noted by prominent architectural theorists such as Bernard Tschumi who bridged the gap over to architecture through his spatial montages in ‘The Manhattan Transcripts’ (1994). Tschumi concludes that although both spaces and actions exist independently, their collision disturbs their internal coherences and produce new meanings, thus echoing the results of the Kuleshov’s experiment. At this stage, storing the fundaments of this principle for our future interpretations is essential: the event changes its substance according to the set it is placed within and vice-versa, every space alters under the motional vibrations of the event it accommodates.

(43) The Kuleshov Effect











2.2.2 MONTAGE OF OPPOSITIONS: SERGEI EISENSTEIN The brilliance of Eisenstein’s theories lies in the fact that he elevated the acknowledgment of film montage from its previous condition as a purely aesthetic device to a form of rhetoric, where the mental processes of the spectator take centre stage. The son of an affluent architect, Eisenstein enrolled in the Institute of Civil Engineering in Petrograd in 1915. In the wake of the 1917 revolution, he joined the Moscow Proletkult Theatre as a set designer under the guidance of Vsevolod Meyerhold, the Proletkult director himself, who introduced him to the concept of “biomechanics” or conditioned spontaneity. Expanding on Meyerhold’s theories (1913), Eisenstein developed his own ‘montage of attractions’ as a series of conflicting images which served to truncate time spans and interweave symbolic meanings in a manner that would place the audience in a premeditated spiritual or psychological state: ‘Any two sequences, when juxtaposed, inevitably combine into another concept which arises from that juxtaposition as something qualitatively new’ (Eisenstein, Taylor and Glenny, 1988:296). Rather surprisingly, perhaps some of the greatest influences upon Eisenstein’s pioneering technique was his undiminished admiration for the Far-East cultural icons. Most specifically, Japanese language because it is based upon a complex metaphorical system in which two words with completely different meanings were associated to produce a third meaning: knife + heart = sorrow, for example. Through his ingenious montage choices and understanding of the power of conflict in stimulating thought and implanting ideas into the mind of his audience, he aimed at constructing films from ideas, rejecting the conventional, dull arrangement of shots. This is why, in an attempt to describe the process leading to the cumulative emotional effect of the resulting scene, Eisenstein falls back on Pushkin’s poetry and his use of literary metaphors. As Hutchings (2012) explains: ‘What is a literary metaphor? A literary metaphor is when you take two existing elements of reality that don’t belong together, you put them together and from that you create something new, a new meaning’. If the basic montage dictum as defined by Kuleshov could be formulated as A + B = C, what Eisenstein was paradoxically achieving through his manipulation of the basic unit of film and the creation of meaning, was C>A+B. The frame itself is an extract, a cut-out from the filmic realm which ‘establishes a border between what is on-screen, within the frame and what is off-screen, beyond it’ (Rohdie, 2006:35). Consequently, Eisenstein stresses that in order to achieve a suture loaded with the intended level of drama, tension, moods and meanings, the colliding shots have to be carefully selected: ‘Depiction A and Depiction B must be so chosen from all the possible features inherent in the story that the juxtaposition of them – specifically the juxtaposition of them, not of any other elements – will evoke in the perception and emotions of the spectator the most exhaustive, total image of the film’s theme.’ (Eisenstein, Taylor and Glenny, 1988:299).

‘if montage is to be compared with something, then a phalanx of montage pieces, of shots, should be compared to the series of explosions of an internal combustion engine.’ (Eisenstein, 1963:55)

(44) Still from Eisenstein’s ‘Battleship Potempkin’, 1925


Of particular interest for the purposes of this study, is the fact that the collisions of shots, jolting the spectator’s sensory apparatus were not only stemming from conflicts of scale, volume, internal motion, speed or direction of movement within the frame, but also the emerging conceptual values. Entranced by his new discovery, Eisenstein developed a series of formal montage categories that enabled him to control the action while enhancing the film’s agitational tone: metric, rhythmic, tonal, over-tonal (skilfully employed in the depiction of the massacre on the Odessa Steps in ‘Battleship Potemkin’, see fig. E.4) and most importantly, intellectual montage as the combination of shots which elicit the conscious creation of new idea (most eloquent in the sequence of ‘gods’ in ‘October’ where overtones of divinity are edited together to the point where the notion of God becomes assosciated with a block of wood, see fig. E.5). All these are perhaps best expressed in Eisenstein’s masterpiece, Battleship Potemkin (1925) where the dynamic clash of opposing elements is carefully forged as ‘some symbolical meanings could be read into almost every incident’ (Fawcett, 1927: 23): waves breaking violently foretell a revolution (fig. E.1), the maggot infested meat - the sailor’s dehumanization (fig. E.2 )and the lion statues showed consecutively - the awakening of the masses and their rising against the Tsar (fig. E.3). We must note however that the application of all these montage techniques compromises the films objectivity, becoming a highly subjective art form. Consequently, montage became for Eisenstein an active political device, meant to revive collective subconscious and awake the audience from a kind of political lethargy through the insertion of shock, of the unexpected as the primordial technique which can be identified throughout his films holding a revolutionary tempo. Strike (1924), Battleship Potemkin (1925) and October (1928) are perhaps the best known examples. For Eisenstein, the notion of conflict within the shot was essential in order to create these effects (see fig. E.7- E.12). As he explains: ‘conflict within the shot is potential montage, in the development of its intensity shattering the quadrilateral cage of the shot and exploding its conflict into montage impulses between the montage pieces’ (1949:37). The word “montage”, holds an industrial connotation as a reference to the French ‘chaine de montage’, which essentially means “assembly line”. Similar to the way a product is put together and completed on the assembly line, so is film compiled from smaller pieces to convey a certain meaning (Hood, 2008). This metaphorical connection between film and the automated production was closely attuned to the cult of the machine that the Soviets were makings use of in order to reach their lower class audiences. Nevertheless, although Eisenstein attempted to make films for the common man, he failed as a result of the intense use of symbolic references which would only confuse the masses. In addition, the revolutionary subliminal tone, led to the censorship of his montage technique by Stalin, fuelled by his authoritarian paranoia. As in the case of Romania, the myth of the dictator and his anxieties comes forth again, turning art into its victim by mutilating freedom of though and expression.






72 (E.6) Eisenstein’s diagram explaining the relationship between montage and conflict



(E.7) Graphic conflict

(E.8) Conflict of light

(E.9) Spatial conflict

(E.10) Conflict of scales

(E.11) Conflict of planes

(E.12) Conflict of volumes


2.2.3 Scultping in time:


‘I reject the principles of ‘montage cinema’ because they do not allow the film to continue beyond the edges of the screen: they do not allow the audience to bring personal experience to bear on what is in front of them on film. “Montage cinema” presents the audience with puzzles and riddles, makes them decipher symbols, take pleasure in allegories, appealing all the time to their intellectual experience. Each of these riddles, however, has its own exact, word for word solution; so I feel that Eisenstein prevents the audience from letting their feelings be influenced by their own reactions to what they see.’ (Tarkovsky, 1987: 118) For Tarkovski (1987), it was the lengthy, uninterrupted inner rhythm of the shot, its natural temporal flow that gained priority over Eisenstein’s fast - paced, intellectual montage techniques specific for his earlier films (see fig. T.1). He rejected premeditated scope of montage in implanting meanings, and militated for an exploration of the human spirituality as the most fertile ground for cinematic interpretation and poetic expression of the matter world. In his view, it is the generative properties of time that structure the scene, allowing for spontaneous unifications and transitions that bestow the narrative with self-organizational rhythms. According to Tarkovsky, Eisenstein’s ‘montage of attractions’ plays on the inherent qualities of the shot and only advances a superficial enhancement of the already existing meanings (Menard, 2003). A flamboyant technique indeed, but useless when faced with the challenge of seeing life in its essence and translating its inner rhythms in such a way that it steps beyond the realm of the screen. If for Eisenstein, it was the concept that informed the cut, inducing a temporary intellectual stimulation, Tarkovsky allows for its viewer to immerse into the scene and experience the echo of his own thoughts. Splicing is a brutal violent act that narrows understanding, while the trance-like state that Tarkovski’s films induce through a temporal dilatation have the ability to distance themselves from the temptation of imposing an artistic vision and drift towards a somewhat objective projection: “The distinctive time running through the shots makes the rhythm...rhythm is not determined by the length of the edited pieces, but by the pressure of the time that runs through them (1987:117). We are presented with a scene and it is down to the power of our perception to absorb or even create meanings across its original ones. Unlike Eisenstein, Tarkovsky gives his audience the power to decide. On the other hand, while I am not questioning Tarkovsky’s originality, it is interesting to note how his entire stance seems to be built upon a restless negation Eisenstein’s theory: ‘I am radically opposed to the way Eisenstein used the frame to codify intellectual formulae. My own method of conveying experience to the audience is quite different. Of course it has to be said that Eisenstein wasn’t trying to convey his own experience to anyone, he wanted to put across ideas, purely and simply; but for me that sort of cinema is utterly inimical. Moreover, Eisenstein’s montage dictum, as I see it, contradicts the very basis of the unique process whereby a film affects the audience.’ (Tarkovsky, 1987: 183).

‘We can express our feelings regarding the world around us either by poetic or by descriptive means. I prefer to express myself metaphorically.’ (Interview Le Noir Coloris de la Nostalgie with Hervé Guibert in “Le Monde”, 12 May 1983)

(45) Still from Tarkovsky’s ‘Nostalghia’, 1983

(T.1) Stills from Tarkovsky’s ‘Nostalghia’ illustrating the dreamily slow paced movements of the camera within the sequence


Trakovski’s theory represents a turning point in the evolution of the new-wave, radical cinema. The film now liberates itself from its creator and gains independence through spectatorial perception and, at the same time, a plurality of meanings. The multiple identities that it acquires do not confuse its structure, since they do not co-exist within the frame, but evolve and project differently in each person’s mind. Tarkovsky’s film shifts the target from the masses addressed as a unitary entity to the individual as a reflection of the relaxation Khrushchev political regime advanced. In sum, the most important aspect t in the world of film montage is that while Kuleshov reassembles fragments (see fig. K.1), and Eisenstein applies surgical cuts in the films body and reorganizes them to induce a certain meaning - transgression (see fig. E.13), Tarkovsky aims to keep the shot almost intact, allowing it to evolve in attunement with its inner temporal flows , i.e. preservation (see fig. T.2). (K.1) Kuleshov

(E.13) Eisenstein



(46) Diagrams created by using the ‘MovieBarcode’ technique (2011) involving the recording of film stills at a regular temporal interval which are then compressed into a line. This approach does not only reveal the collor palette employed for each film, but also the montage and temporal rhythms of the narrative. The compiled Movie Barcodes for Eisenstein’s ‘Battleship Potemkin’ and Tarkovsky’s ‘Nostalghia’ illustrate the fast versus slow-paced assemblage of sequences. MovieBarcode for Eisenstein’s ‘Battleship Potemkin’

MovieBarcode for Tarkovsky’s ‘Nostalghia’


2.2.4 THought as IMAGE:


Having discussed Tarkovsky’s stance towards cinema as an aesthetic activity preoccupied with time (Tarkovski: 83, SiT), it is the right moment to bring to the fore the work of Gilles Deleuze, whose typology of direct and indirect images of time are explored through cinema and montage. In his two – volumes work on the cinematic image (1989, 1992), Gilles Deleuze explains how montage is essentially an indirect image of time. For Deleuze, a time-image is an image infused with temporal dimensions, whether these are past or future projections, or we refer to them as memories or fantasies, they are the reference points that enable us define our position in the present. Our minds assemble the fragments as we undergo phenomenological processes of recognition, recollection or dream, synthesizing images which enable us navigate through our daily lives. In order to discuss these processes, Deleuze expands his cine-semiotic language through a philosophical approach on the perception, representation and recognition of reality (closely attuned to Bergson’s theories of duration) while taking into consideration the techniques and practices of the cinematic apparatus (Colman, 2011: 14). The narrative and temporal modularities converging within the shot – ellipsis, analepsis (flashback), prolepsis (flashforward), synchronous or asynchronous (Lucas, 2002) – are achieved through the application of montage techniques and their arrangement within an aggregated whole: ‘Not only is the image inseparable from a before and an after which belong to it, which are not to be confused with the preceding and subsequent images; but in addition it itself tips over into a past and a future of which the present is now only an extreme limit, which is never given’ (Deleuze, 1989:38). In addition, it is essential to understand that for Deleuze, the notion of movement – achieved through an incursion into Bergson’s text Matter and Memory - is equally important in both the philosophical, and practical sense. Although his explanations seem abstract and at many times inaccessible, Deleuze understands movement as the motor of the universe, as the force which stirs its inner atoms into endless configurations and patterns of cosmic evolution. As Vitale (2012) explains: ‘The entire universe is interconnected, but any individual aspect, any part of it, is an image. My body, a single atom, the planet Earth, the Sun, a dog, these are all images.’ In addition, Vitale explains that it is deceiving to refer to certain slices of matter as static – such as a book on table - and we should bear in mind that objects are also constantly exchanging inner energies on a quantum level. Nevertheless, some cuts in the flowing matter are conducted at a precise point in the universe’s inner shifts and reflect these transitional instants which Deleuze coined as the movement-images. By extension, Deleuze argues that the screen image is an inter-related whole, that constantly modifies through the movement or temporal coordinates of the event. Cinema is ‘motion picture’ by definition and refers not only to the camera’s mechanical, physical ability to capture the kinetics of an entity but also to

‘montage is composition, the assemblage of movement-images as constituting an indirect image of time.’ (Deleuze, 1992: 31)

(47) Chronophotographs from ‘A Passion for the Trace’, Etienne Jules Marey, 1914


the ability to produce movement on a mental, perceptional level. As a result, the different types of movement described by Deleuze (the perception, affection, impulse, action, reflection and reflection images) stimulate and model the human perception into an infinite array of configurations. An important aspect to mention at this point is that Deleuze, this time alongside Guattari, analyzes the construction of movement in terms of biomorphic and geomorphic diversities (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987). Their exploration of the botanical world, led to the formulation of the rhizome theory (briefly mentioned in the previous chapter) which opposes the tree organization system and allows for a horizontal, nonhierarchical expansion. We can remind here Koolhaas’s Generic City(1995) which on a similar note, advocated for the condition of the modern metropolis as an organic, self-sustaining structure which would shed the conventional understanding of space, boundaries, program and circulation for patterns reciprocal pollinization. For Koolhaas, deterritorialization is the answer, the generator of uncertainties which will strengthen the city’s immunity and allow it to evolve freely and Deleuze’s theory supports this argument. Deleuze continues his explanation on movement: ‘Movement is a translation space. Now each time there is a translation of parts in space, there is also a qualitative change in the whole.’(1992:8) What Deleuze is trying to say, is that through the insertion of a new entity, section into the existing situation, the whole has changed irreversibly, echoing Tschumi’s theory of transgression previously discussed. In Deleuzian terms, the ‘determination of the whole’ (1992: 30) is achieved through montage and the editing and narrative techniques it embodies. He develops his argument by identifying four different schools of montage: ‘it seems that four main trends can be distinguished; the organic trend of the American school; the dialectic trend of the Soviet school; the quantitative trend of the pre-war French school; and the intensive trend of the German Expressionist School’ (Deleuze, 1992:31). In an attempt to achieve a better understanding of the movement theories supporting the operational functions of montage, I narrow down the analysis to the divergent directions taken by the Soviet and French school, primarily concerned with montage dialectic and respectively, with montage as a power energy machine which produces movement. Breaking away from the principle of an organic composition, the dialectic of the Soviet montage school focuses on the clash occurring at the point of intersection and the evolution of the whole, while the French school is referred to by Deleuze as particularly Cartesian (1992: 42), focusing on the quantity of movement, and developing an approach centred on mechanical composition. We can state that the fundamental difference between the French and the Soviet school lies in the interpretation of the notion of the machine. The cult of the Soviet machine stems from a glorification of the automated production and an unbending faith in progress – ‘the machine of steam and fire’ (2002:67) as Lucas terms it.


By, contrast, the French school discloses a poetical approach to movement as the choreography of ‘single body’, which decomposes the space of the machine into an abstract whole– as the dancers are to dance (1992: 42). This recalls Tschumi’s (1994) theory of transgression. Nevertheless, if Tschumi is concerned with the deconstructed voids of the machine, montage seems to be concerned with the positive volume formed by the unity of movement. At the same time, movement is closely related to the issue of temporality. Be it fast or slow, each action evolves under its own pace and montage dictates this speed of these inner rhythms – ‘where the contrasting physics of something flowing is opposed to something being slowed down, diverted, striated or broken (as in thought, or life itself)’ (Colman, 2011:27). If for Deleuze, montage is an indirect image of time and duration, what is the relation between the movement and temporal concepts to architecture? (D.1) Temporal modularities

(D.2) Rhyzomic evolution system

(D.3) Soviet School (Eisenstein): dialectical montage as developmental and revolutionary

(D.4) French School (Gance): quantitative montage puts the emphasis on movement.

(D.5) German Expressionist School (Wien/ Lang): montage of contrasts emphasising colour and light

(D.6) American School: organic montage relies on oppositions, but attempts to give them the unity in a whole.


2.3 MONTAGE AND ARCHITECTURE With cinema’s invention during the later part of the nineteenth century, a new type of spatio-visuality emerged. At the same time, the architecture of modernity was flourishing under the auspice of mobility, and with it the space of transit was announcing a shift between spatial perception and motion: arcades, railways, exhibition and glass houses, pavilions and department stores (Bruno, 1997), all announced the eve of a new era of social and cultural emancipation. The idea of ‘scenic tourism’ started taking shape across Britain and then Europe and as a higher emphasis was laid on the idea of connoisseurship, of ‘the well-trained eye’ (Adler, 1989: 22), new forms of gazing were developed, as a way to take control of an unknown environment and possess it from afar. As Urry explains, it is ‘by distance that a proper ‘view’ is gained’ (2002: 147) it unfolds itself under the scrutinizing sight of the gazer and can be visually consumed. The notion of ‘Sightseeing’ is reinterpreted by Bruno (2007) as ‘Siteseeing’ - a shift in film theory, stepping away from the focus on sight, on the visual dimension and aspiring towards a theory of site and aiming towards a ‘cartography, that is, of film’s position in the terrain of spatial arts and practices.’ It is important at this stage to understand the dual nature of the film spectator as both voyageur and the voyeur, as a paradoxical condition of being simultaneously static and mobile, physically locked, but traversing space on a perceptual level. If mobility is the essence of cinematics, then ‘film is a modern cartography. It is a mobile map.’ (Bruno, 1997: 17). Primarily addressing urban audiences, the panorama film genre emerged, feeding the metropolitan subconscious with distant landscapes, vistas of city, rummaging its dark corners and streets. The city became the protagonist and in this sense, Vertov’s ‘Man with the movie camera’ (1929) is remarkable through its technique of documenting the full spectrum of Soviet urban, at work and at play, while making use of all the available cinematic means at his disposal: dissolves, split screen, slow motion and freeze frames. Most importantly, his film is a celebration of the fusion between man and machine, proclaiming the primacy of the camera – Kino-Eye - over human vision. For Vertov, the human eye could only record the information on a superficial level while the camera lens was able to offer an enhanced, objective vision of the world It was almost a scientific tool of analysis, an appendage to the human body which could organize the chaos of reality in a coherent manner. Nevertheless, the film depicts a somewhat a poetic flavour of the Soviet reality, a fusion of art and political rhetoric. As a result, the narration of urban space through film becomes a form of imaginary flanerie, appealing to the inner movements of the metropolitan mind.

(48) Framing Soviet life: stills from Dziga Vertov’s ‘Man with a Movie Camera’, 1929


On a similar note, Siegfried Kracauer, one of the twentieth century most illustrious cultural critics and himself a former architect, discusses the urban scape and specifically the Berlin street as a space of endless performance, an inexhaustible subject of exploration, attempting through his writings to ‘redeem city life for its inhabitants, to recover the obvious and the familiar’ (John, 2007:20): ‘The street in the extended sense of the word is not only the arena of fleeting impressions and chance encounters but a place where the flow of life is bound to assert itself. Again one will have to think mainly of the city street with its ever-moving anonymous crowds. The kaleidoscopic sights mingle with unidentified shapes and fragmentary visual complexes and cancel each other out, thereby preventing the onlooker from following up any of the innumerable suggestions they offer. (…) Each has a story, yet the story is not given. Instead, an incessant flow of possibilities and near-intangible meanings appears. This flow casts its spell over the flâneur or even creates him. The flâneur is intoxicated with life in the street—life eternally dissolving the patterns which it is about to form.’ (Siegfried Kracauer, 1960:72) In this sense, both Kracauer and Walter Banjamin understood the potential of flanerie to provide rich panoply of situations for the modern film-maker which could then achieve a sort of a mirroring effect. The urban audiences would wonder at the marvels of their own world. This is nevertheless a paradoxical conjecture since, if considering Kraucer’s and Benjamin’s joint view on film as a form of escapism, of distraction, as expression of the inherent anarchy of nature, the spectator seeks release from his world by delving in it even deeper. In his essay, ‘Montage and Architecture’ (written in the late 1930s), Eisenstein himself attempts to offer a perceptual model of the connection between architectural and cinematic composition: ‘Film’s undoubted -- architecture’ (Eisenstein and Bois, 1989:111). Guiding the reader along the ‘siteseeing’ route (Bruno, 1997), Eisenstein designs an itinerary which meanders effortlessly through time and space (see fig. 50). We confide our gaze to his words and drift through the architectural promenade which he has prepared, absorbing the variations is scale and volume, the angles and perspectives that flow into each-other, converging into an ideal whole. Our sight brushes along the edges of the ancient skeletons of the Acropolis, and then lingers in contemplation, only to be jolted into action once again by an unexpected turn in the path of exploration. We consume the space, but most importantly, we consume architecture in movement which is deciphered as it is traversed. For this is the brilliance in Eisenstein’s effort. He chooses a site which is deceivingly locked in time, its footprint has cleaved its ground for centuries and still, under Eisenstein’s surrogate gaze, we perceive it as incredibly dynamic. At the same time, as the ‘shots’ zoom in and out and as our thoughts collide into each other, we move through the space and essentially, space moves us (Bruno, 1997).


(49) Flaneur in the post-socialist city

(50) Eisenstein: Montage and Architecture

Architectural clashes:

(51) Bucharest: National Architects Union

(52) Berlin: The Jewish Museum

(53) Havana: old building in front of Fochsa building

86 Movement becomes ritual, and as our body shifts its spatial coordinates, the cinematic grounds are confirmed. The idea of the ‘promenade architecturale’ was also echoed by Le Corbusier who encouraged the roaming through space as a practice that resurrects the architectural machine whose fuel is movement itself. As the observer gradually advances through the structure, a sequence of fluid spaces reveal themselves in a montage of travelling shots with different rhythms and viewpoints. Eisenstein’s fascination for dialectical coherence and his approach to montage as a series of conflictive arrangements which stimulate intellectually become epicentres of attention. In ‘Nonindifferent Nature’ (1987: 122), Eisenstein seems to refute its previous stance and argues in favour of ecstasy and pathos as the ultimate goal to be achieved by cinema. For the first time it is about emotion, rather than controlled intellectual persuasion. Literally speaking, ecstasy (ex-stasis) means “being beside oneself” or “going out of a normal state”, indicating the imminence of a transitional state to a new level of transcendence: “To be beside oneself is unavoidably also a transition to something else, to something different in quality. . . . To be out of the usual balance and state, to move to a new state. . . “ (Eisenstein, 1987:27) . For Eisenstein ‘ecstatic’ represents the common denominator between architecture and film. He concludes that the same way film can forge ‘explosion’ through the fusion of powerful opposing forces, so can architecture through the orchestration of stylistic clashes ‘exploded into each other by a kind of historical process’ (Vidler, 117:122): ‘principles of the Gothic . . . seem to explode the balance of the Romanesque style. And, within the Gothic itself, we could trace the stirring picture of movement of its lancet world from the first almost indistinct steps toward the ardent model of the mature and postmature, ‘flamboyant’ late Gothic. We could, like Wolfflin, contrast the Renaissance and Baroque and interpret the excited spirit of the second, winding like a spiral, as an ecstatically bursting temperament of a new epoch, exploding preceding forms of art in the enthusiasms for a new quality, responding to a new phase of a single historical process.’(Eisenstein, 1987:122) Eisenstein proposes decomposing and recomposing architectural space through explosion as for him architecture is montage. If in the previous chapter we focused our discussion on the post-socialist city’s condition as a palimpsest which generates a series of internal contradictions, it is impossible to remain indifferent to Eisenstein’s vision. Bucharest is a city of fragments, wounds and regrets. Additionally, it already is a canvas of violent stylistic contrast. Can Eisenstein’s montage theories recompose its ruptured tissue and help it achieve the dialectical coherence Soviet film-directors embodied in their narratives? If so, what are the equivalents of these montage theories to architecture? It is interesting to note how, moving through history, cinema started identifying itself with the architectural and even urban practice, becoming in essence a laboratory, a test bed for the formal exploration of the built world. Ever since its creation, film’s ability to synthesize space and time enabled it to function as an anticipation tool for architecture and the city itself. In this sense, we only have to recall emblematic expressionist utopias such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Metropolis or Hans Poelzig’s Golem where the ineffable mastering of light and darkness, of psychological suspense and haunting perspectives, ‘succeeded where architecture failed, to build the future in the present’ (Vidler, 2000: 99).


2.4 ARCHITECTURE AND NARRATIVE In the section above I discussed the role of passage through the architectural and cinematic ensemble and how a spectator activates the intertwining of these two paths, be it on an actual or imaginary level. Movement is therefore crucial in both stances, and so I would like to dwell a bit longer on its psychogeographical importance. By taking a closer look at the Situationist cartography, I would like to reinforce the importance of randomness and the unexpected as elements that challenge our perception of the city, compelling us to ‘rethink cultural expression itself as a site of travel and of dwelling’ (Bruno, 1997). Additionally, understanding the social and political context that underlined the emergence of the Situationist movement and the 1968 Paris rebellions is particularly important as it influenced the ideological stances as young intellectuals including Tschumi and Koolhaas (see Appendix B for more details). The Situationist movement has its origins in Lettrism, an artistic and literary movement founded in the late forties by Romanian immigrant poet Isidore Isou as a reaction against Dada and Surrealism through the creation of a new science of language and signs. Isou believed that the word in poetry had been exhausted of meaning and that it was the sound and appearance of letters that could be reinterpreted as primary motifs in getting back poetry into people’s lives (Walker, 2011). In 1956, following the fusion of the Lettrist International (founded by Guy Debord) with several different art groups, the Situationist International was established. The newly-formed, revolutionary group militated for a proletarian revolution against the commodification and banalization of everyday life as result of the capitalist contamination. Taking inspiration from the arts, they developed a series of experimental fields of study including psychogeography and unitary urbanism. The term ‘psychogeography’ refers to the study of the emotional and psychological effects of the environment we inhabit or traverse with the aim to cultivate awareness to the way every-day life is managed and controlled (Wark, 2011). Nevertheless, it is Andre Breton who first draws an approximation of the psychogeographic forces impacting the drifter’s subconscious the Situationists would later coin as the practice of ‘dérive’ (Woods, Fels and Krygier, 2010). He famously notes how the map and effectively, the street, can present a sufficient variety along the way, unravelling alternating spaces of unrest or tranquillity: ‘A map that would probably be quite revealing should be drawn for every individual: the places he haunts could be shown in white, the ones he avoids in black, and the rest in various shades of grey according to the degree of attraction or repulsion.’ (Breton, 1995: 299) Debord (1955) too is drawn into the space of the street and acknowledges the significance of walking as part of a radical approach to developing a critical stance towards the surrounding world: “The sudden change of ambiance in a street within the space of a few meters; the evident division of a city into zones of distinct psychic atmospheres; the path of least resistance which is automatically followed in aimless strolls (and which has no relation to the physical contour of the ground); the appealing or repelling character of certain places - all this seems to be neglected” (Debord, 1955:2).


‘Soyez réalistes, demandez l’impossible!’

(54) Slogan of the May 1968 revolt in Paris. In translation from French: ‘Be realistic, demand the impossible!’


Opposing the safe, idealized promenades created by planners and designers, the Situationist believed that by creating a state of indeterminacy one would be confronted with the ‘real’ face of the city. The spontaneous, undetermined meandering across the city’s map would result in unexpected encounters with the anaesthetic. And so, a far more accurate image of the city’s condition can be achieved. It is these impurities that offer the potential for innovation as they represent the city’s pulse in its raw form. Again, we learn that even the unpleasant should be embraced in order to prevent it from eventually haunting us. The reclamation of discarded urban spaces is also the central theme of Lebbeus Wood’s radical approach (discussed in the previous chapter).Similarly, he claims that their reintegration as self-organizing interfaces, would offer a ‘dense matrix of new conditions as an armature for living as fully as possible in the present, for living experimentally’ (Woods, 1994:21). Another Situationist tactic is ‘détournement’ as the juxtaposition of pre-existing unassociated elements in a new ensemble, aiming to challenge the observer’s perception of reality. In his essay, Detourned Painting (May 1959), Asger Jorn asserts: ‘Détournement is a game based upon the capacity for devalorization’. What Jorn is pointing towards is the two fundamental principles of détournement: de-valorization and deviation of meaning. During the first stage, each element is undergoing a process of identity loss and meaning subversion while the second phase involves the organization of the elements in a new ensemble, where each element acquires a different meaning to its original one. The coexistence of old and new meanings generate an immediate intellectual impact largely aimed at criticizing the rise of spectacle politics. Considering its widespread use, perhaps the most notable consequence of détournement is its intrinsic propagandistic powers. It is impossible by this point not to be intrigued by the similarities détournement - as “the use of old material for new ends” through collage (Puchner, 2006:224) – and the technique of Soviet montage discussed previously. While both techniques involve the assemblage of fragmented elements, a clear distinction should be made at this point between the notion of montage as film and collage. Cinematic montage is defined by dynamism and is structured along a particular movement which unfolds gradually turning the spectator into a witness of the action’s becoming. Collage on the other hand presents the viewer with the assembled whole which he then delves into exploring. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that montage in its cinematic form encompasses collage. Analyzing the techniques employed by Dziga Vertov in ‘The Man with A Movie Camera’, Henderson remarks that overall, the clips are examples of collage rather than montage: “The difference between montage and collage is a complex question… Montage fragments reality in order to reconstitute it in highly organized, synthetic emotional and intellectual patterns. Collage does not do this; it collects or sticks its fragments together in a way that does not entirely overcome their fragmentation. It seeks to recover its fragments as fragments; … to bring out the internal relations of its pieces” (Henderson, 1999: 61). Consequently, the differentiation can be reduced at dynamic versus static. Recalling Rowe’s and Koetter’s ‘Collage City’ (1978), it can be argued that, as Lucas (2005) also notes, their proposed urban model could be too static.


Combining Rowe’s historical knowledge and Koetter’s multiscalar urban expertise, they present the disjunction between the modern and historical dialectic, arguing for the medium scale as the missing link in connecting the disparate urban actors and elements. As a result, the city becomes an amalgamation of fragments, ambiguously interlinked, while in implementation “the promise of a multivocal, dialogic, interactive collage tended to be trumped by the eclectic, symbolic choices of a single, Enlightenment authority” (Shane, 2005:134). In his book, ‘Recombinant Urbanism’, Shane explains: “Collage City initiated a discourse on the logic of relationships between elements and fragments in the postmodern city, even if it did not provide a satisfactory resolution of the question” (Shane, 2005:134). Could a ‘montage city’ then formulate a more appropriate answer then to the issue of urban fragmentation? In this optic, perhaps the closest attempt to a dynamized reorganization of fragments is provided by Peter Cook’s ‘Addhox’ - ‘Metamorphosis of an English Town’ (1970) in Archigram. Cook pictorially describes the metamorphosis of a city through time while recording its mutation and cannibalization stages. While the later evolution phases have a somewhat hyperbolic aura, the earlier stages show modifications which are now identifiable across a variety of urban textures. Most importantly, what Cook presents us with is a narrative structure and a series of colliding fragments evolving independently, while activating the whole strip of events.

(55) ‘Metamorphosis of an English Town’, Peter Cook, 1970


(56) DĂŠrive in Bucharest, Romania: stills from recorded footage


(57) DĂŠrive in Havana, Cuba: stills from recorded footage




So far, architecture was assumed to have a somewhat static role. Indeed, the complexities generated as evolution takes its course are endless. Nevertheless, in order for us to be able to consider the possibility of a ‘montage city’ with its emergent urban narratives, the idea of movement of the disparate fragments in its actual sense needs to be taken into account. At this point, I remind the basic strategy underlying the notion of montage is the cutting of the film strip, the process of selection sieving through the desired shots, and finally, the pasting of these fragments together into a cohesive whole following the line of action. As new generations of architects use the same urban filmstrip, overriding their own stories, pieces of the city are erased. For it is the architect who ‘is responsible for the transitions and means of crossing; the participant or user is responsible for the narrative’ (Lucas, 2005). As explained before, there is movement not only within the storyline, but also in the mechanics of the reassemblage process. What if we could develop an urbanism ‘in transito’ that shifts and reconfigures itself periodically, continually encouraging spatial and programmatic contamination? This kind of thinking would form the framework for a sort of architectural nomadism (Deleuze, 1987) or driftwork (Lyotard, 1984) that can be related to the psychogeographical practices of mapping affinities and reinscription of nodes, sites and tracks (Wilkinson, 2003). The idea of a mobile urbanism is perhaps most vividly expressed in Ron Herron’s 1964 Archigram project – A Walking City. The creation of city encompassing mammoth ‘pods’, capable of roaming through the world and organize into ad-hoc ensembles wherever their resources were needed, celebrating technology in its most utopian form. Herron’s cartoon drawings of the Walking City illustrating the mobile robotic structures gliding across the landscape evoked the belief that social change and the technological progress could forge a dynamic, adaptive, open-ended architecture that would reach an unparallel condition of freedom and mobility. As Sorkin (1993:145) explains, “Bewitched by nomadic fantasies, Archigram argued that architecture based on mobility and malleability could set people free”. (58) ‘Walking City’, Ron Herron, 1964

(59) Drifting urbanism

(60) Potential organisation of movement using the plot narrative


Although all these ideas could not escape the utopian sphere, there is, however, a a remarkable reference point when discussing the possibility of activating a network of ‘travelling’ architecture. The ‘Translation Technique’ (see fig. 61), developed by Eugeniu Iordachescu (1982) the technical director for Project Bucharest, in an attempt to rescue the remaining fragments of religious and historical heritage following the communist urban systematization was indeed groundbreaking (see Appendix A for further details). It is widely known that the communist regime took a hostile and aggressive stance towards spirituality, exerting its obtuse ideology over Romania’s largest religious community – the Romanian Orthodox Church. Driven by its atheist Marxist-Leninist view, the regime considered religion ‘a capitalist remnant expected to wither away as its social basis disappeared’ (Stan, 2011). Nevertheless, it is important to mention that communism displayed something akin to a jealousy of God, as a religious person recognized no other higher force apart from the Maker. In the case of Romania, attempting to break this connection was a particularly challenging endeavour. The Church has always played a pivotal role for the Romanian people’s identity, and in times of such hardship, faith was indeed the only form of escapism and comfort people could resort to. Such form of individual estrangement was regarded as a distraction from the Party’s goals and ambitions and as a result, a series of interventions were initiated in order to diminish what has always been an essential part of the popular mentality in Romania. Since the essence of the communist project was to reform human nature, both history and religion had to be eradicated. This radical view is representative especially for Ceausescu’s dictatorship period, when after the 1977 earthquake, as the plans for the New Civic Centre were forged, he also embarked upon a campaign of religious persecution. Between 1979 and 1988, 22 churches were demolished in Bucharest (Stan, 2011) and 12 were saved from the demolition path by employing the Iordachescu ‘Translation’ technique. Referring to the churches relocated behind the flanks of the Union Boulevard, Mr. Iordachescu recalls: ‘As I was wandering around the area, I discovered the Schitul Maicilor Church which I was only acquainted with from the drawings and plans I was working on at the time. This little church looked breathtaking on the backdrop of peaceful spring scenery. As I entered the interior courtyard, I met the vicar who explained to me that the church was also housing workshops for a variety of hand-made religious objects. I was deeply impressed with everything I had experienced during that afternoon but at the same time discouraged as I knewthe dark future lying ahead. The church had been built in 1726. After I visited the area, the idea that I had to do something in due time to save these buildings started to haunt me. At the time I felt I could not make this happen unless I moved them outside the area destined for the House of People scheme.’ (12 April 2012, see appendix A for the full interview transcript) Due to the extensive demolition scheme, Romania became the focus of the international press and in an attempt to improve the negative image carved around his systematization plan, Ceausescu approved the scheme for the relocation of ecclesiastic centres, apartment blocks and civil institutions hindering the implementation of his megalomaniac intervention.


As boulevards were widened and large scale communist interventions crushed the Bucharest’s skyline, fragments of the past were gliding across the city, hiding behind the tall flanks of concrete blocks. The technical principle underlining operations of lifting, rotation and directional movement this approach is best described by Mr. Iordachescu : ‘The buildings were mounted on train tracks and then pulled with the help of electric trolleys. We didn’t lift anything as the basis for our concept was keep all within the same plane.(…) My idea stemmed from the way a waiter carries his tray: a rigid surface is holding the glasses in a horizontal plane. Therefore, as the waiter makes his way around the guests the safety of the glasses is not compromised. There is also a principle in physics – Navier’s theory – that states that a point in space can change its position only if there is a deformation of some sort affecting the plane it is supported by. If there is no deformation, this means that that point will remain fixed. Starting from this principle that the waiter applies subconsciously, instinctually, I managed to develop the translation technique. This method needs to be adapted however to each type of building; there is no fixed recipe for it.’ (Interview, 12 April 2012) Although the pioneering efforts to rescue these left-overs of history provide a direct reference point in analyzing the technical possibility in the creation of a mobile city, there are a series of ideological and psychological implications that should be discussed. The relationship between architecture and its context is a recurrent theme in architectural theory exploring the generative properties of the context in counteracting placelesness and lack of identity. In Analysing Architecture, Simon Unwin (2009) states: ‘Place is to architecture as meaning is to language. Recognition, memory, choice, sharing with others, the acquisition of significance; all these contribute to the process of architecture’ (Unwin, 2009: 69). While this relationship has been significantly challenged during the communist era, I believe there is an opportunity to explore where the translation technique inscribes itself when discussing phenomena of uprooting and relocation. Considering that sacred space is closely attuned to the locality it corresponds to, how was the sacrality of the translated churches affected? By extension, what happens when a sacred space is inhabited by a celebration of atheism such as the House of People? And finally, what happens to the genius loci of the abandoned space? ‘Even if we consider the case of the translated churches, things are far from being the same – their initial location was sacred, it was a blessed, holy piece of land, and that is where they truly belonged. Once you relocate them it is not the same, something changes…’(Nicolae Margineanu, 10 April, 2012) These are all questions that should be carefully considered when tackling the issue of architectural drifting. In the final chapter, I shall explore these questions through a series of proposals aiming to illustrate how the Union Boulevard – House of People area can be reinterpreted while reviving the application of the ‘translation’ technique.


(61) Bucharest’s travelling buildings: the ‘Traslation’ techique, Eugeniu Iordachescu


2.6 CHAPTER CONCLUSION An essential component of the montage technique is that it reveals a sort of pilgrimage through various sites while allowing the subconscious ‘corpus-space’ connection to provide the narrative linkage and put the pieces together. This is the connection that brings together all the concepts put forward by great thinkers and architects such as Walter Benjamin’s flaneur, Guy Debord’s situationist theory of the dérive and détournement or Bernard Tschumi’s use of narrative montage as a part of the design process. Although the adaptation of cinematic techniques to architecture has represented the focused of debate between various architectural theorists during the past century and has materialized unprecedented intellectual manifestoes, this approach is still facing criticism regarding its elusive, sometimes convoluted implementation propositions. Nevertheless, the current process of transformation paralleled by the emergence of the capitalist market is forgetful of the many realities of the post-socialist urban whole which are ignored or treated superficially, compromising the urban experience. Although building an audience for such an approach is a challenging task- particularly in the case of Bucharest, addressing the neglected fabric in the context of a chaotic growth requires an imminent consideration. It is my opinion that montage could function as a viable starting point.


2.7 REFERENCES Allen, J. (2007). The cultural spaces of Siegfried Kracauer: The many surfaces of Berlin. New Formations(61), pp. 20–33. Breton A., Parmentier, M., & Amboise, J. D. (1995). Free rein = La clÊ des champs. Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press. Bruno, G. (2002). Atlas of emotion: journeys in art, architecture, and film. New York, Verso. Bruno, G., (1997), Site-Seeing: Architecture and the Moving Image, Wide Angle: A Film Quarterly of Theory, Criticism, and Practice, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 9 -24. Colman, F. (2011). Deleuze and cinema: the film concepts. Oxford, Berg. Cook, P. (1973). Archigram. New York, Praeger Publishers. Debord, G., Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography, in Knabb, Ken (ed.) Situationist International Anthology, (Berkeley, CA: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1980). Deleuze, G. (1992) Cinema 1: The Movement Image, Athlone Press, London. Deleuze, G. (1989), Cinema 2: The Time Image, Athlone Press, London. Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis , University of Minnesota Press. Eisenstein, S., & Marshall, H. (1987). Nonindifferent nature. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Eisenstein, S., Taylor, R., & Glenny, M. (1988). Selected works. London, BFI Pub. Eisenstein, S., Bois, Y. (1989). Montage and Architecture (M. Glenny, Trans.), Assemblage, 10, pp. 111-131. Fawcett, L. E. (1927). Films: Facts and forecasts. London: G. Bles. Grant, B. K. (2007). Schirmer encyclopedia of film. Detroit, Schirmer Reference. Gomery, D. (1991). Movie history: A survey. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Pub. Co. Henderson, B. (1980), A critique of film theory. New York, Dutton, pp. 57-67. Hood, A. (2008), Reassessing Soviet Theories of Montage in our Postmodern Age. Available at: < > [Accessed 2 November 2011].


Jorn, A. (1959), Détourned Painting, Exhibition Catalogue, Galerie Rive Gauche. Translated by Thomas Y. Levin, Paris. Koolhaas, R. (1995). Generic city. Sassenheim, Sikkens Foundation. Kracauer, S. (1960) Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality, New York: Oxford University Press. Levaco, R. (1974). Kuleshov on film: writings by Lev Kuleshov. Berkeley, University of California Press. Lyotard, J.-F., & Mckeon, R. (1984). Driftworks. New York, N.Y., U.S.A., Semiotext(e). Lucas, R. (2002), Filmic Architecture, MPhil Thesis, University of Strathclyde. Lucas, R. (2005), Towards a Theory of Notation as a Thinking Tool, Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Aberdeen. MovieBarcode (2011), Available online at: Puchner, M. (2006). Poetry of the revolution: Marx, manifestos, and the avant-gardes. Princeton, Princeton University Press. Rohdie, S. (2006). Montage. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Rowe, C., & Koetter, F. (1978). Collage city. Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press. Russel, M. (2009), Soviet Montage Cinema as Propaganda and Political Rhetoric, Edinburgh Research Archive. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 May 2012]. Shane, D. G. (2005). Recombinant urbanism: conceptual modeling in architecture, urban design, and city theory. Chichester , Wiley-Academy. Sorkin, M. (2001). Some assembly required. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press. Speteanu, V. G. (2010). Dr. ing. Eugeniu Iordǎchescu: un salvator al monumentelor de arhitecturǎ. Bucureşti, Editura Speteanu. Stan, L. (2011). Religion and Politics in Post-Communist Romania, [blog] 20 January. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 July 2012].


Tarkovsky, A. A. (1987). Sculpting in time: Reflections on the cinema. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Tschumi, B. (1994). The Manhattan transcripts. London, Academy Editions. Tschumi, B. (1994). Architecture and disjunction. Cambridge , Mass, MIT Press. Unwin, S. (2003). Analysing architecture. London, Routledge. Urry, J. (2002). The tourist gaze. London, Sage Publications. Vidler, A. (2000). Warped space: art, architecture, and anxiety in modern culture. Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press. Vitale, C. (2012). Guide to Reading Deleuze’s Cinema II: The Time-Image, Part II: Towards a Direct Imaging of Time to Crystal-Images, [blog] 29 April. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 June 2012]. Walker, J. A. (1992). Glossary of art, architecture & design since 1945. Boston, Mass, G.K. Hall. Woods, L. (1993). War and architecture. New York, NY, Princeton Architectural Press. Wilkinson, L. (2003), Situating Cyborgs: Technology and Psychogeography, Materiali Resistenti. Available at: < > [Accessed 24 June 2012]. Wood, D., Fels, J., & Krygier, J. (2010). Rethinking the power of maps. New York, Guilford Press. PUCHNER, M. (2006). Poetry of the revolution: Marx, manifestos, and the avant-gardes. Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Tschumi, B. (1994). The Manhattan transcripts. London, Academy Editions. Tschumi, B. (1994). Architecture and disjunction. Cambridge , Mass, MIT Press.


3.1 CHAPTER OBJECTIVES The heterotopic evolution of the urban form at the end of the twentieth century is a direct implication of the global phenomenon referred to as polarization of our society. Thus, the contemporary city has mutated from an organic, compact pre-industrial entity with a highly defined centre, to a sprawling industrial structure with its own logic of production and consumption, and finally to its contemporary condition characterized by multiple centres acting as attractors. Shane (2011) distinguishes these evolution phases as: Arche-Città (city of faith), Cine-Città (city as machine) and Tele-Città (the organic city). While a Tele-Città may contain aspects even of the Archi-Città, the opposite will never be the case. As Baroncea and Popescu (2001) note, the developmental patterns of the city led to the replacement of the historical centres and landmarks of old towns with new centres, most commonly contrasting in scale and structure with the existing archaic texture. As cities change their image, the long term memory capsules fade away and are replaced by new pockets of information which challenge the notion of identity. Nevertheless, the symbolic value of a place is particularly meaningful in a world whose dominant episteme is hyper-reality and our mission to distinguish between simulation and reality is constantly challenged. In this sense, the places which preserve local identity are particularly important, as they respond to the subconscious need to secure reference points in history as a result of the anxiety and uncertainties of the present. These sensitive places are expressions of the complex relationships the local and global community establishes with the dimensions of space, time and memory. In a similar manner to Ioan (1999), I shall approach the concept of place as “Khôra” (Greek for ‘space’ or ‘site’), a Platon-ian philosophical concept interpreted by Derrida (1997) as a system of symbols in memory which make up the character of the place. “Khôra” is a personal place endowed with physical coordinates but that a person’s memory uses as the scene for invention. According to Baroncea and Popescu (2001), ‘memory structures space, giving it continuity or discontinuity depending on how the space-planning connects us to the background’. Keeping in mind the city’s condition as palimpsest, there is a layer zero of memory, which the planner uses as a baseline for the imprinting of consecutive strata of information generated by the layer itself in its spatiotemporal evolution. By selecting as objects of study Berlin and Havana, I aim to analyze how the notions of memory and gaze have been interpreted following the evolution of their urban fabric and what Bucharest can assimilate from these approaches. I will show the common and contrasting strategies defining the three case studies by focusing on key elements such as Potsdamer Platz, EL Capitolio and Paseo del Prado, while constantly paralleling them with the case of Bucharest.


3.2 HISTORICAL CONNECTIONS On the night of November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall - the most potent symbol of the Cold War division of Europe came down. Throughout the Soviet bloc, reformers assumed power and ended more than forty years of dictatorial communist rule. Romania was no exception. On December of the same year, the country overthrew Ceausescu’s communist regime following what the world would acknowledge as one of Europe’s most hostile and violent revolutions since World War I. On the other side of the world, once with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba lost all major financial support and plunged into its worst economic crisis since the 1959 Revolution. Nevertheless, while the Eastern European regimes collapsed following Moscow’s refusal to protect them from their own peoples, the case of Cuba was completely different. As Radu (2003) explains, apart from sharing the same official ideology and history of economic and military dependence on the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro’s Cuba had little in common with the former Warsaw Pact countries of Eastern Europe whose regimes were put in power by the Communist Party. By contrast, Castro came to power on a wave of popular support, and so he successfully survived the fall of the communist bloc. In the wake of their new condition, Bucharest and Berlin started readapting to their new political circumstances - at different paces), while Cuba, preserving its communist policies turned to free-market systems - in a state of relative isolation as a result of the U.S. «embargo» (1960). The turmoil of the communist experience has been a challenging experience for Bucharest, Berlin and Havana. This chapter aims to analyze the case of Berlin and its commemoration of the past, following what could be deemed as a trial and error period aiming to formulate an appropriate urban language. By contrast, the communist regime in Cuba seems to have adopted a different approach towards its historical colonial vestiges: La Habana Vieja (in tranlsation from Spanish: Old Havana) was untainted by the communist architectural manifestoes, while the main socialist residential clusters act as satellites to the old city plan. It is through the examination of the urban condition of these two capital cities in relation to Bucharest that ‘the fragility of associations between architecture and the political becomes most apparent’ (Leach, 1999:117). These will be explored in the next sections.


images 3 countries

(62) Communist controlled countries, 1980 situation


3.3 BERLIN AND BUCHAREST The case of Berlin has been widely debated as one of the few cities that have physically recorded the sum of its troubled histories in such an explicit manner (Mical, 2001:96). In this sense, it almost seems like the Berlin street, as discussed by Kracauer in the previous chapter, is the key element in deciphering the past as a place of continuous unrest where history is inscribed layer after layer, muttering beneath its paving stones. Berlin bears the profile of a traumatized, tormented city. This is particularly visible through the deep gaps and scar tissue scattered across its urban fabric and their reflection within the collective subconscious. The spaces of the present are constantly haunted by dichotomies of past and future, of real and imaginary as the utopian dream of a smooth, historically integrated totality is broken into discordant spatio-temporal movements which compete in an awkward, uneasy manner. Its complex history, revealing countless turning points in terms of the power/architecture balance resulted in a fracturing of the cinematic urbanism of the city - stories of failures and contrasting desires were sutured into the urban tissue in an asynchronous cycle. The ideology of Prussian imperialism, the subsequent industrialization of the metropolis and the avantgardes and the fascist state have projected competing idealized urbanisms and their juxtaposition only resulted in partial semiotic fragments, incapable of dominating the whole. The construction of the Berlin Wall (1961) during the Cold War, meant to optimize political and economic globalization, represents a brutal division in the corpus of the city, leading to further deterritorializations and subsequently, a densification of the archipelago of fragments drifting within the urban fabric. As Walter Benjamin noted in the 1920s, the tendency to politicize the art and aestheticize politics continues to manifest itself in the continuous reconstruction, erasure and rebuilding of the urban landscape, as if changing the present would somehow neutralize past meanings. In the following paragraphs, we will draw the attention upon the work of Thomas Mical whose cinematic interpretation of Berlin provides us with novel way of discussing spaces of trauma. Mical (2001, 97) summarizes the condition of the city: ‘Maps are posited upon the unified, hierarchical and static model of the city frozen in a moment of time drawn from a godlike perspectival stationary point’ arguing that all events and cultural flows contradict this type of conventional mapping. He proposes an investigation in the city’s fabric through a process of ‘unmapping’ as Vertov-like capitations of all that physical maps fail to record. Consequently, this involves a sieving of the city’s texture through both real and imaginary architectural images, photography, film and means of visual culture which would enable us to construct the cinematic dimension of the city as a space in transit, while revealing its metaphysical truths.


We can therefore state that the history of Berlin can be considered to operate just like a film: ‘Neither documentary or drama, Berlin appears as a film constructed from different reels of exposed film stock diverging from any epochal structure.’ Mical (2001:97). A montage of heterotpian fragments, of forgotten, abandoned and reconstructed urban artifacts, it invites projections upon its voided spaces resulted from a blatant division of the city along pervasive ideological stances. Any hope for a linear continuity – as an ideal of historical narrative - is compromised, as the temporal scape of the city is punctured with discrepancies, deviations or gaps start surface irregularly. Analepses and mnemonic interruptions reveal ghost spaces of unrealized utopian desires. Cinematic urbanism is a rendition of the social space, a volumetric mise-en-scene, inscribed in the observer’s subjectivity, which frames the individual within larger shifting political structures. When impossible utopias become heterotopias, the cinematic spaces of the city become, as Mical (2001:103) explains, ‘blurred spaces’: ‘In the blurred spaces of the city nothing remains static, nothing can be read or experienced identically, there is no single privileged pint of view, no clear or distinct entities that are not subsumed by their erasures and reconstructions.’ Following the effects of globalization and the aspiration of homogenization by superimposing new utopian models upon the existing gaps of the city, the space between the fragments is blurred, confused. Berlin is caught in a vortex of such spaces, and perhaps this is one of the most notable challenges the city is facing today. These spaces of unification through transparent modernity are best exemplified through places such as Potsdamer Platz (Helmut Jahn’s Sony Center, see fig. 64) which has been reconstructed under consumerist and capitalist principles, denying the history of the site in favuor of an Americanized glass style urbanism. The need to somehow sanitize, purify the space bears strong references to Koolhaas’s description of Junkspace as ‘flamboyant yet unmemorable, like a screen saver’ (Koolhaas, 2002:177). However, as much as transparency means permeability, it can also reveal everything that the visitor cannot take part in. The obsessive use of glass recalls Tschumi’s stance regarding the inherent fear of decay, of decomposing organisms as artifacts indicating the passage of time that terrifies modernity. On the other hand, it seems like the sophisticated spatial constructs of cinematic urbanism were more successfully implemented in the former Potsdamer Platz Info-Box (Schneider and Schumacher, 1995-2000). Ever since Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 until the fall of the Wall in 1989, Potsdamer Platz, considered one of Berlin’s most powerful symbols of urban culture, was subjected to various cycles of collapse and regeneration. Before World War II it was acknowledged as a significant transportation hub and economic centre (Kinzer, 1996) but on August 13, 1961 the Wall was constructed across it and for twenty eight years it rooted division into the land. At this point, the connection between Berlin and Bucharest is evident: Bucharest too has lost significant areas of its urban fabric during the communist systematization process replacing the existing context with a new topographic profile which destroyed the urban and social structure particularly in the central area. Such an impact can only be related to the devastating consequences of the Berlin Wall, which fragmented the urban system and changed the central areas into a ‘no man’s land’.

‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’

(63) President Ronald Reagan speech at the base of Brandenburg Gate, 12 June, 1987


Years after it was dismantled, an emotional resonance of broken livelihoods and severed connections remained and in 1995 the Info-Box was erected ‘with the humble purpose of informing the public as to the city’s redevelopment plans’ (InfoBox, 1995). Its physical presence, infused with a much needed message of hope, guided public perceptions of the site with dignity and fearlessness as redevelopment progressed (McLuhan, 1964). Although dismantled in 2000, it managed to engage the people in the healing process of the city while establishing a personalized connection between the user and the construction. As Choi (2009) explains, the Info-Box functioned as a Lynchian image, enabling the visitors to orient themselves as they approached the chaotic reconstruction site from a distance while providing a path into both the past and future. Nevertheless, through the example of the Info-Box, Berlin stands as an example to Bucharest. Even if just for a limited period of time, it did try to provide the city with the opportunity to grow its ‘scab’ that Lebbeus Woods refers to as the first layer of reconstruction, shielding, protecting an exposed interior space during its transformation process (Woods, 1997:24). Bucharest and Berlin are also related when discussing the techniques for the integration of the communist relics into the new urban strategies, trying to mediate the tension between the symbolic power of the remains and the new added structures. Nevertheless, as Ivan(2006) notes, while Bucharest was trying to mediate the effects of the battle between the communist super-structures and the pre-communist approaches in both art and architecture, Berlin was facing a far more complex level of fragmentation underlined by its ideological transformations from monarchy, to the Third Reich regime, the communist period and finally, the capitalist power. Nevertheless, although the current condition of the German capital is questionable in terms of scale and style, the aim was accomplished as the financial support allowed them to fulfill a radical reconstruction of the city which was concerned with two aspects. Firstly, Berlin addressed the communist and Nazi relics through a minimization of their impact upon the urban fabric. This was achieved by taking the reconstruction scale to such an extent that the past fragments of history were overpowered and as a result, their influence significantly diminished. The overall agreement was to inhibit, not to eradicate memories since these could help propagate a sense of belonging to a common past throughout the collective subconscious. Secondly, in terms of the residential architecture, a total conservation process of past materialities was elaborated (see fig. 66). This approach finds itself in stark contrast with Bucharest’s response refusal to invest in the past, preferring to appeal to superficial, impromptu solutions which most commonly lead to high levels of dereliction.


Berlin’s most notable reconstruction plans were carried by signature architects including John Hejduk, and Daniel Libeskind, part of the ‘Berlin Tomorrow’ competition platform. In his proposal entitled ‘Printer House/Studio’, Hejduk brings together five volumes, hosting different programmes, which he connects to each other through a series of three corridors. The city was segregated, ruptured, and it is finally unified through his narrative sequence of spaces, using memory as a connective tissue. The inhibited memories of the Berliner are meant to be reactivated through an exploration of urban traces, infused with a multitude of cinematic accents that stimulate the subconscious. Baroncea and Popescu (2001) note that Hejduk appeals to a series of spatial symbols rooted in a common cultural background: the cross (intersection of pathways), the winding road (journey as catharsis) and the tower (a focal point). In this case, the centre is the crossing point, marked by the centripetal organization of the volumes, representing on a metaphorical level Potsdamer Platz as the heart of a unified Berlin, a centre of gravity coordinating the dialogue between the visitor and the volumes. Daniel Libeskind’s proposal for ’Berlin Tomorrow’ aims for a similar effect – an emphasis on the notion of place through a manipulation of the surroundings. Taking the form of an axis, perpendicular on the direction of the wall, it fulfils the function of a bridge, connecting East and West in an attempt to commemorate the past segregation of the city. Another notable aspect is the approach to Brandenburg Gate, reflecting the turbulent history of Berlin like no other landmark within the city. The Gate stood between East and West Germany, becoming part of the Berlin Wall barrier. It is a paradoxical destiny for a gate to divide, as opposed to connect. What is interesting in Libeskind’s approach is the fact that the gate is adjacent to the main axis, as opposed to functioning as a transit point. In Libeskind’s scheme, it becomes a witness rather than a participant (Baroncea, Popescu, 2001). On a metaphorical level, it still represents a critical point which announces the dramatic changes in the urban fabric as well as a fracture into the city’s memory. Libeskind continues to explore the concept of trace through the ‘Writing Machine’, a project he elaborated in an attempt to create a map of imaginary lines connecting the addresses of significant figures in the Jewish cultural history of Berlin. As Hannah (2006) observes, these lines intersect and connect into an invisible topography, revealing the geometry of the Star of David. A similar approach was adopted by Hejuk himself through a project entitled ‘Berlin Night’ (1993) where he explores the patterns formed by the places of the disappeared synagogues. Most importantly, Baroncea and Popescu (2001), note a similar pattern in the case of Bucharest as well, emerging from the places of the mutilated, translated and demolished churches. These invisible networks are truly remarkable as they reveal aspects of memory and place that any traditional form of conventional mapping would fail in disclosing. As discussed in the beginning of the chapter, when exploring places charged with such burdensome social, political and urban legacies, the approach should be oriented towards techniques of ‘unmapping’ (Mical, 2001) which enable the unseen to surface.


(64)Helmut Jahn’s Sony Centre, Potsdamer Platz

(65)Temporary structure: InfoBox

(66)Berlin: Refurbished Communist blocks

(67)‘Printer House/Studio’, John Hejduk

(68) Symbolic networks of memories

(69)Invisible maps

(70) ’Über den Linden’, Brandenburg Gate proposal, Daniel Libeskind

(71)Rethinking the axial orientation

(72)The element becomes ‘witness’ as opposed to focal point

‘Juntos para defender lo nuestro!’

(73) Slogan of the Cuban Revolution, 1953. In translation rom Spanish: ‘Together to defend what is ours !’


3.4 HAVANA AND BUCHAREST ‘Time, dereliction and beauty are woven together in ways that add depth to our lived experience of urban landscapes.’ (Armstrong, 2006: 117) The post-modern city is scared of decay as a sign of an imminent death. Traces of the past are completely eradicated or restored to gleaming facades in an attempt to reverse the process of putrefaction and fight temporality. What is so shameful about the wrinkles of time and why this needs to bloat the city’s tissue with injections of Junkspace when in fact, the rotting process stems from the depths of flawed dreams and visions? As we learnt from the case of Berlin, the wounds need to be allowed breathe first in order for the scab to form. Nevertheless, the case of Havana is different. Yes, it is a city in decay and yet, this does not seem to echo the message of failure or trauma. Perhaps this is mainly due to the fact that Havana displays its aging body to our gaze with dignity and pride: ‘indigent and impoverished yet more responsive to modernity than any other city’ (Noever, 1996: 9). It does not bear the aura of a traumatized city, there are no fatal wounds bleeding shame or regret, it does not seem to convey the anxiety one comes across in the Eastern-European socialist and post-socialist context. If Bucharest can be depicted as bleak, with harsh dark hues, Havana’s zest for life is contagious, ‘displaying a chaotic and touching vitality’ (Noever, 1996: 9). The street, which seems to have become a leitmotif in our discussion, fulfills far more functions than that of a support for directional movement: the street is where life happens (see appendix C for further details on 2012 Havana study strip). The concept of liminality in the post-modern city that Urry (2002) discuses as the interstitial condition, as an in-between stasis which is commonly branded as wasted, unproductive, becomes a generator of unpredicted events in Havana. Imbued with a mysterious energy, the street seduces the wonderer’s senses with every turn to the point where the concept of a fixed destination disappears. The initial itinerary continuously recomposes itself, as temptation lies at every corner: the joyful rhythms of the ubiquitous music colored by a pinch of nostalgia, the smell of fresh fruit crowding the mobile market stalls and the shaded streets of Old Havana exuding colonial charm are all contributing to the street’s distinct character and essence. Another notable aspect is the street’s function as a buffer, blurring the boundaries between public and private. The intimacy of family life is shared with the passers-by as widely opened doors offer peaks into their homes. In addition, the doorstep functions as a mediating space between inside and outside which the residents themselves use to gaze at the street. If the doorway is supposed to function as the connective tissue between two realms, for the Cuban it becomes a place with its own spatio-temporal dimensions. The street becomes a collective living room, where people are in constant state of interaction. As a result, the ‘gazer-gazee’ relationship (Urry, 2002) is particularly active, mediating the reciprocal contamination between private and public.


(74) Havana Street, 2012


Different ways of understanding the city have been juxtaposed during over five centuries on an evolving grid support, testing out the possibilities of the chessboard, composing variations on perfect regularity. Colonial, neo-colonial, renaissance, moorish, modern, art-deco and eclectic facades are repeated along the streets of Havana’s neighborhoods, forming an infinite montage of architectural types and scales where diverse cultural worlds coexist. Hence, I could postulate that the relationship between the system of gaze and the engagement of locality can be identified through an analysis of the plan-elevation relationship. With every turn, Havana offers surprising vistas into the heart of the existing localities. The unpredictable lies at every corner and indeed it is this element in Havana’s regulated urban pattern that forms the rhythm between the unfolding elevational canvas and its ‘relief’ points, offering the wanderer a dynamic play of depths and perspectives. This permeability of boundaries is a truly remarkable feature of Havana, in stark contrast with the introversion rooted in the collective subconscious Bucharest manifests as a result of its post-traumatic condition. Let us recall the implications of the phenomenon of urban screening discussed in a previous chapter. The radical manipulation of the city’s organic, functional grid increased the levels of social segregation through the construction of high-rise buildings, flanking the sides of the boulevards and hiding the squalor and poverty within ‘matchbox’ type neighborhoods. The system of gaze was closely controlled in an attempt to glorify the regime’s prosperity and hide the shock of the real, the spectacle of an intensive labyrinthine urbanity, risking encounters with the unpleasant which could taint the idealized communist image. In order to keep these spheres as segregated as possible, censorship was introduced as a means of shielding the country from participating in the global fluxes exchange while simultaneously imposing a new locality through uniformization. As opposed to Bucharest’s radical mutilation of the central area, the communist regime in Cuba seems to have adopted a different approach towards its historical colonial vestiges: Old Havana was left untainted by the communist architectural manifestoes, while the main socialist residential clusters act as satellites to the old city plan, leading to a preservation of the existing localities through time. As noted by Appadurai (1996), locality is an inherently fragile, ephemeral concept that is deeply connected to the efforts of the ‘local subjects’ to maintain it through the socialization of its spatiotemporal dimensions. In his book, ‘Modernity at Large’, he argues that when analyzing locality one should not be solely concerned with its spatial production but mostly with its ability to continuously generate new contexts. In this sense, the notion of neighborhood fulfills a dual function as a context and as a generator of contexts and inherently, of ethnoscapes (Appadurai, 1996). If the production of neighbourhoods becomes an exercise of domination of various environments, then its production of new situations is closely related to the cycle of local practices and projects it becomes the framework for. Nevertheless, this paradoxical character of the neighbourhood can be inhibited in terms of its generative properties when opposed to the nation-state influence as context-producer itself. Both Bucharest and Havana stand as contrasting examples in this sense. While both cities display a fragmented urban texture, Havana presents a harmonious juxtaposition of different architectural styles as a result of non-invasive urbanistic strategies while Bucharest a profoundly disjointed amalgamation of localities.


At this point, I step back a moment and analyze the changes the 1959 revolution triggered in terms of Havana’s urban planning development. Havana does not have a defined center unlike most former colonial Latin American cities. It is polycentric, reflecting stages of expansion through a turbulent history. Since Cuba was transformed from a nation led by foreign-based capitalist concerns into a centrally led socialist state, Cuban architects were influenced by the new towns of Britain, the neighbourhood concept of the US, satellite cities of Scandinavia and models from the USSR and Eastern Europe (Disch, 2007). A prominent example in this sense is Ciudad Camilo Cienfuegos which although stood for the ideal of the revolution, it was much a hybridization of all these theoretical advancements, taking inspiration from both the CIAM movement and the International Style.

Although the regime did not attack the central area of the city, its new goals to accommodate the masses through the importation of prefabricated Eastern European stereotypes caused several zones of Havana to undergo radical transformations, the most regrettable of these being the loss of the traditional grid. This was followed by an increase in sprawl, due to the appearance of new satellite neighbourhoods, following a negative trend in international urbanism. ‘Revolucion es construir’ (revolution is to build) states the propaganda slogan painted on a wall along the road before entering Alamar, Guiteras and Penas Altas, the results of defective planning strategies, lacking in mixed use and connections to the rest of the city. Transportation, infrastructure and housing were not addressed appropriately and although they still remain unsolved problems today the relatively limited scale of new construction during this period, did not compromise the spirit of the place. As in the case of the Romanian capital, Havana has its own marble landmark - The Capitolio (1926 -1929), a simulation of the United States’ Capitol. As opposed to the House of People in Bucharest, the scale of this building fulfils its function as a symbol of the city while avoiding the overpowering of the surroundings. This is also a result of its tangential position along the main boulevard, Paso Del Prado, on the dividing line between central and old Havana. Although a focal point within the city’s skyline, the wanderer is not forced to acknowledge The Capitolio’s presence,Instead, he is drawn to it: meandering along the narrow streets, sporadic glimpses of its glimmering, white dome intrigue the drifter who attempts to escape the labyrinth of the city and absorb an all-encompassing view of its volume. Although monumental in dimensions, it is not perceived as monolithic, static, but as incredibly dynamic, activating the surroundings as locals and tourists interact with it in a direct manner. This dynamism is also remarkable in terms of its experimentation with various functions, constantly adapting to the social and political context: formerly the seat of the Cuban Congress, since 1959, the Capitol became the headquarters of the Academy of Sciences of Cuba, first, and of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA), later. If the House of People and the Union Boulevard are perceived as a single entity due to the linear axial progression, the Capitol and Paseo del Prado seem constantly reinvent their identities and generate programmes. Discussing the Union Boulevard, Nicolae Margineanu stated:


(75)Socialist Housing: Camilo Cienfuegos neighborhood, 1959-1961

(76) Idealism and CIAM movement principles reinterpreted

(77) Havana: satellite - type dispersal of socialist enclaves

(78) Active symbol: El Capitolio, Havana

(79) Crushing the skyline: The House of People, Bucharest

(80) Bucharest: perforation of the central area

(82)The House of People and the Union Boulevard: focal point

(83)El Capitolio: absorbed within the urban perspective

Axis versus monolith: (81)El Capitolio and Paseo del Prado: reciprocal engagement


‘I believe the human should play a central part in the design process since during that period it was the socialist block that received most attention. For example, I never see people strolling along Unirii Boulevard, enjoying the space since it is mostly cluttered with cars and it is perceived as an extremely unwelcoming area.’ (Interview, 10 April 2012, see appendix A for full interview transcript) By contrast, a stroll along Paseo Del Prado reveals a remarkable versatility, turning into a canvas which the city‘s inhabitants appropriated to project their own purposes and desires: old people playing chess, kindergarten children taking their sport and dance classes, couples embracing, artists painting, all these are just a few of the functions the boulevard adopts along the period of day. It is not simply a promenade, a ‘paseo’, but an amalgamation of events – it is cross-, dis- and trans- programming all at once. The gaze is stimulated on a multitude of levels: the opposing poles of the axis connect the hectic heart of the city centre with a panoramic view of the sea, mediating crowded and quiet, urban skyline and pure horizon. The space belongs to the people, and this is perhaps one of the most important lessons Bucharest ought to learn by studying Havana. (85)Canvas of activities: stills of footage recorded along Paseo del Prado


3.5 CHAPTER CONCLUSION To conclude, both Berlin and Havana unravel urban strategies that Bucharest should implement as part of its long overdue reconstruction decisions. On one hand, Berlin teaches us that ignoring the local aspects, denying the past and absorbing unconditionally western influences does not seem to provide any viable solutions. It is the acceptance of the legacy in its raw form and its manipulation into an operational urban system that can lead to reconciliation between the past and the future, between place and memory. On the other hand, Havana displays a liberated attitude towards the passage of time, reinterpreting decay as an opportunity for spontaneity, for the propagation of new meanings and functions leading to a highly adaptable urbanism. In Bucharest’s case, many projects and concepts are not flexible enough, constantly tending to put a strong emphasis on an already existing forceful intervention. We are experiencing the era of the transient, of the ephemeral and the Union Boulevard and House of People area needs to be reassessed accordingly. As the regime that created it did not find the time to complete it, the same way current interventions are not forever. A flexible strategy would probably formulate better outcomes than a constant search for everlasting creations.


3.6 REFERENCES Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at large: cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis, Minn, University of Minnesota Press. Architecture Again, & Noever, P. (1996). The Havana project: Architecture Again : international conference on architecture, Havana, Cuba. Munich, Prestel. Armstrong, H (2006) Time,Dereliction and Beauty: an argument for ‘Landscapes of Contempt’ The Landscape Architect, IFLA Conference Papers May 2006 (116 -127). Baroncea, J., Popescu, C. (2001). The Place: from FORM to inFORMation -recuperation of places in Bucharest and Berlin, ISOCARP Congress 2001: Honey, I Shrunk the Space. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 May 2012]. Choi, R. M. (2009), Reconstructing Urban Life, Places, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 18 -20. Derrida, J., Eisenman, P., Kipnis, J., & Leeser, T. (1997). Chora L works: Jacques Derrida and Peter Eisenman. New York, Monacelli Press. Disch, H. (2007), Public Housing in Havana: History of Ideas. Available at: < assets/files/files/028_HAV_12_publichousing.pdf> [Accessed 21 June 2012]. Hannah, D. (2006). Jewish Museum of Berlin - Dancing Between the Line. IDEA Journal, [Online]. Available at: pp. 26 - 41. Ioan, A. (1999). Khora: teme și dificultăţi ale relaţiei dintre filosofie și arhitectură. București, Paideia. Ivan, M. (2006), Rethinking the Axis: Approaches in the Development of Communist Initiated/uncompleted Architecture in Bucharest After 1989. OhioLink ETD Center. Available at: < cgi?acc_num=ucin1155584865> [Accessed 20 May 2012]. Kinzer, S. (1996), Watching Berlin Take Shape, New York Times, 12 May. Available at:> [Accessed 7 July 2012]. Koolhaas, R. (2002), Junkspace, October, Vol. 100, Obsolescence, pp. 175-190. Leach, N. (1999). Architecture and revolution: contemporary perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe . London, Routledge, pp. 112.-123.


Mical, T. (2001). Berlin’s Cinematic Spaces: Dialectical Analepses and Fugue, Spectator, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 91 -105. Mcluhan, M. (1964). Understanding media; the extensions of man. New York, McGraw-Hill. Radu, M., (2003). The Cuban Transition: Lessons from the Romanian Experience, Cuba Transition Project (CTP) Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami, Available at: <> [Accessed 9 February 2012]. Shane, D. G. (2005). Recombinant urbanism: conceptual modeling in architecture, urban design, and city theory. Chichester , Wiley-Academy. Urry, J. (2002). The tourist gaze. London, Sage Publications Woods, L. (1997). Radical reconstruction. New York , Princeton Architectural Press.


4.1 CHAPTER OBJECTIVES So far, the analysis provided aimed to acquaint the reader with the actual grounds on which new architecture and urbanistic gestures have the chance to emerge in the context of the Union Boulevard and House of People area. The study of Bucharest’s disjoined fabric, the analysis of the international theories providing alternatives in tackling issues of fragmentation and trauma, the interpretation of montage theories in relation to architectural narrative and mobilities as well as the parallel between Berlin and Havana with Bucharest’s current condition, are all aimed to support the investigations conducted during this final chapter. In this chapter, I aim at narrowing down the subject to a few main topics which will materialize into a series of predictions about the future society and how to deal with the diversity of ideas and concepts presented to this point. Therefore, I have decided to focus my study on a series of different situations which will surface possible reinterpretations of the area in the context of an urban attitude fractured between dismissing and celebrating not only the vestiges of the past regime, but also the current chaotic urban growth trends. Henceforth, a cohesive response should be formulated between research and theoretical studies of the area and the materialized results that are emerging lately. The future directions that the area will follow should consider a manifold of aspects and examples, as opposed to sporadic interventions that fade away within the sea of floating fragments. In this sense, I shall bring to the fore five different scenarios exploring the range of options between history and tabula rasa: 1.











4.2 SCENARIO 1: RESTORATION The entire central area of the city is covered in concrete curtains: uninterrupted rows of blocks spreading over dozens of kilometres along the main boulevards are a daily reminder of the communist legacy. Flooded with Western accents of consumerism, the Union Boulevard area has readapted its programmatic substance to the emergent globalization flows: the western flank is crowded with luxury shops while the eastern one shelters financial and business headquarters. Its surfaces are contaminated with banners and oversized logos, oozing from the Union Square, the largest commercial area in central Bucharest situated along the axis. Learning from the case of Berlin, the first scenario proposes a complete restoration of the communist flanks, in close attunement with the existing materiality and architectural language. In this sense, I propose we adopt the Tarkovskian stance towards the phenomenon of ‘urban screening’ (Duda, 2009) and allow the prolonged, uninterrupted rhythm of the concrete flanks function as an opportunity for reflection. A walk along the boulevard becomes an incursion through time, a form of temporally dilated flashback, an escape from the stylistic Junkspace (Koolhaas, 2002) of the Union Square. The change however will occur on a different level. I propose to activate the area through an infusion of the concrete volumes with a series of public and private programmes such as living, leisure, recreation, working, religious, and shopping. Thus, the architectural shell will function as a mnemonic reference point while the interior will become the scene for endless cross-programmatic (Tschumi, 1998) exercises. By seizing the container and infusing it with a contrasting event (e.g. ‘church building as a bowling alley’), a rejuvenation of the entire area can be achieved. Most importantly, with time, as the programmatic shifts increase in complexity, they will start contaminating the external envelope of the blocks. Consequently, any radical gestures of tabula rasa can be avoided while overriding painful memories lingering in the collective subconscious with situations that can form a mediating platform between the past and the future. As Libeskind taught us, it is important to preserve past artefacts and face our past in order to achieve closure and work towards new stages of urban evolution. Nevertheless, if we are to keep the area formally intact, how do we address the House of People so as to reduce its impact upon the surroundings? Tschumi, Koolhaas and Woods have largely debated the issue of homogenization through ‘heterarchy’ (Woods,1992: 36), and in this case, I shall interpret it as horizontal distribution of programmatic authority. By stripping the building from its administrative and formal powers and infusing it with contrasting programmatic scopes – House of People as zoo, theme park or concert venue - we will witness its demystification. As a result, although the conflict in scale might have not been resolved, the neutralization in meaning, the depersonalization of the landmark alters its perception within the collective subconscious. Henceforth, when deciding upon the programmatic arrangement we are given the opportunity to explore with the technique underlying Eisenstein’s ‘montage of attractions’. When collated, all these disjunctions generate a series of ambiguities and dynamic formulas contained by the monotonous socialist whole. What happens when we insert a school next to a financial institution and by extension, how would the programme of a nightclub be influenced by the presence of a next-door church? How do we contrast these elements while maintaining a cohesive narrative structure?

122 CONCEPTUAL EDITING: House of People as wonder

Berlin: Refurbishing the past

Celebration of the past

Facing memories



Programmatic diffusion

Eisenstein: programmatic evolution as montage of oppositions

Spatial conflict

Conflict of volumes

Tarkovsky: the long, uninterrupted shot


(S1.1) Unfolding elevations of the House of People and Union Boulevard. Above - complete restoration of the communist structure, preserving its long, uninterrupted elevational rhythm. Below - following the programmatic contamination process, the event takes over the architectural shell.

(S1.2) Diagram depicting the three stages of cross-programmatic occupation of the whole: infiltration, full internal occupation and finally, reciprocal contamination. Note the highlighted area which will be subsequently analyzed in higher detail (see S1.4). 1. During the first phase, the events gradually take possession of the communist container, defining their spatial directions.

2. During the second phase, the events have saturated the volume in a series of strip-type vertical arrangements.

3. During the third phase, the events evolve horizontally, constantly adjusting their spatial requirements. As the activities take over the adjacent spatial environments, a series of contrasting spatial and programmatic situations emerge.


(S1.3) Plan diagrams presenting the Union Boulevard as a canvas for the programmatic expansion and programmatic fusion. PHASE 1









(S1.4) Diagram zooming in on the above designated area within the flanks of the Union Boulevard, illustrating the programmatic shifting patterns within the architectural frame. CHURCH

A. Horizontal Contamination




B. Marked with Red are the areas where the phenomenon of cross-programming can be identified.

(S1.5) Spatial conflicts: following the spatial shifting stages a series of cross-programmatic cells emerge - homeless centre in a sports hall, church in a homeless centre, sports in a church or a homeless centre in a night club.

(S1.6) The House of People is de-monumentalized through the infiltration of a contrasting event, becoming for example the setting for a roller coaster ride.


(S1.7) ... ‘House of People’ Land?


4.3 SCENARIO 2: RE-SACRALIZATION During the implementation of the communist project, five churches (Mihai Voda, Schitul Maicilor, Sf. Ilie, Domnita Balasa, Sf. Ioan Nou, Synodic Palace of Antim Montastery) in the Union Boulevard area have been displaced from their original site and hidden behind the tall rows of buildings. Additionally, in order to make room for the placement of the House of People on the Spirii Hill, three churches have been savagely demolished (Alba Postavari, Spirea Veche and Izvorul Tamaduirii - 1984). In many of the cases the site is still free, and its recuperation is still possible while for the others, their locations have been ingested by the totalitarian interventions. In one of the previous chapters I questioned the spiritual mutations the translation process imposed upon the church and its locality. As a result, this scenario proposes a re-sacralization of the initial sites through techniques of translation and reconstruction, in an attempt to give the area back a part of its lost identity. The previously invisible network of abandoned spaces would rematerialize and revitalize its symbolic value, while the House of People will be attacked on a spiritual level. As some churches move along the train tracks, encircling the House of People, others will recuperate their original site through a splicing of the concrete screen and their insertion on the same elevational plane with the main front, evoking the pivotal role religion plays for the Romanian identity. Thus, although the contrast in scale is significant, their organization in a panoramic, distributed arrangement creates a sense of visual continuity, reinforcing their symbolic value through time. Drawing on Deleuze’s theory of montage, the fragmentation of the communist flanks through the introduction of an external entity, will alter the whole irreversibly. By extension, considering Tschumi’s explanation of transgression, as we introduce entities contrasting in form and programme the communist strata is demystified and scrambled in meaning. The churches will function as rhythmical breaking points within the monotonous, dark hued volumetric sequence and create opportunities for reminiscence and recollection. We can interpret them as both analepses and prolepses, creating shifts backward into the story of Romania’s tumultuous past and at the same time acting as strong reference points, enabling the people to orient themselves within the city’s frantic evolution. In my opinion this approach would be more appropriate than the construction of one dominating entity as recently proposed by the Patriarchal Orthodox Cathedral, which in essence rehearses past erroneous attempts to dominate the environment through scale. I believe that the physical minimization of the Ceausescu’s megalomaniac intervention should be revised and instead, we should make use of the symbols that are already there, waiting to be reintegrated within the urban texture.

134 CONCEPTUAL EDITING: Bucharest: identifying the wound

Bucharest: fragments of the past


Facing memories

Eisenstein: montage of oppositions

Conflict of scales

The ‘Traslation’ technique

Urban ‘scrambling‘ as de-monumentalization approach

Urban screening

Invisible maps

Graphic conflict

Temporal modularities


(S2.1)Diagram illustrating the current overview of the House of People and Union Boulevard area in relation to the spatial location of the demolished and translated religious centres.



Demolished Churches

Translated Churches (current location)

Translated Churches (previous location)


(S2.2) Reviving spirituality: indication of the travelling routes the translated churches can currently follow in order to achieve their re-connection with the initial sites.


(S2.3) Diagram of the different spatial movements the building is subjected to when undergoing the translation process.

(S2.3) Diagram depicting the elevational rhythm of the Union Boulevard following the re-distribution of the religious enclaves. As the communist flanks are spliced and the churches reclaim the connection to their past, a series of scale and spatial conflict arise , rewriting the story of the area.


(S2.4) A ‘visible‘ network of memories : the panoramic, distributed arrangement creates a sense of visual continuity.


(S2.5) Plan, elevation and perspective stills of the new arrangement. See (S2.1) for reference to Civic Centre plan.


(S2.6) Plan, elevation and perspective stills of the new arrangement. See (S2.1) for reference to Civic Centre plan.

(S2.7) Minimization of the communist legacy through the enhancement of the existing network of religious symbols.


4.4 SCENARIO 3: mONTAGE CITY The first chapter analyzed Bucharest’s as a result of its palimpsest condition - urban layers overriding the previous ones leading to high levels of fragmentation, particularly visible in terms of stylistic contrasts, scale and programmatic clashes. Although both Tschumi and Eisenstein are fervent supporters of the idea of contrast, their works do evoke the convergence towards a certain narrative or overall coherence which Bucharest is profoundly lacking. The disparate fragments compete, collide, and do not seem to tell a story. Instead, they collage a multitude of delirious glimpses of past eras, united under a landscape of trauma. This option reveals a radical approach towards the issue of fragmentation: the development of a montage city, a city on wheels which shifts its directional patterns and constantly reorganizes stimulating the drifter’s gaze and perception. Its ever-changing configurations devise unexpected narratives and self-developing processes. As data is diffusing homogeneously through space and fuelling global connections the notion of static urbanism no longer exists. The increase in variations of movement and motions dismiss linearity and the issue of spatiotemporal organization is absorbed within the city’s structure: urban organization has become both timing and spacing in itself evolving spontaneously but continuously. The city is in motion, constantly reacting to global shifts by adapting its choreography to smaller or wider-scale constellations. The urban planning image becomes a planning film, concerned with the cinematic qualities of various spatial organization schemes and liminalities as transient migrational stages. History breaks away from its condition as a sedentary, aging process and becomes a fluid production of identity as the city navigates through space and time. Styles are magnetized according to montage theories of contrast or sameness that challenge the inhabitants’ gaze. The buildings become nomads, drifting in patterns of tectonic narrative, able to reconfigure whenever necessary or desired. This is how I envisage a future Bucharest; a city that learned how to metabolize its fragmentary condition into a virtue, while making use of its technical mobility legacies (the translation technique). I shall start from the presumption that Bucharest’s urban tissue is diseased to such an extent that any aspirations for idealized continuity are futile. Dismissing at this point the option of tabula rasa, I am faced with one other option: developing a language for the adherence of future layers in a manner that an orchestration of the architectural ‘explosions’ (Eisenstein, 122) can be achieved. As a result, I have decided to turn my attention to six architectural styles which are currently defining the city’s skyline: Brancovenesc, Eclectic, Neo-Romanian, Modern, Communist and Post-modern. By employing the Union Boulevard axis as the primary gaze trajectory towards the House of People, I shall introduce a series of architectural stereotypes that can be shifted across the area as their aesthetic ideals collide and programmes infiltrate each other.

144 CONCEPTUAL EDITING: Communist scheme as urban violation


Urban ‘scrambling‘ :’devalorizing’ the whole

Urban screening



‘The Kuleshov Effect’

Eisenstein: montage of oppositions

Graphic conflict

Drifting urbanism

Potential organisation of movement using the plot

The ‘Traslation’ technique

Bucharest: fragments of the past

Flaneur in the post-socialist city

145 Brancovenean






Mapping the narrative events: the Plot Diagram


Rising action

Falling action

Inciting incident

Rising action


Rising action



(S.3.1) Building permutation patterns along the Union Boulevard according to the narrative plot structure . As the sequence evolves from order, disorder and order again, according to stylistic, programmatic and scale principles, the perspective towards the House of Peoples is constantly reconfiguring (see S.3.2 )


1. Order: descending scale

2. Disorder: varying scale

3. Order: ascending scale

(S.3.2) ‘The Kuleshov Effect’: as the main flanks reorganize, so does the perception towards the House of People.


(S3.3) Transgression: as the buildings shift from one flank to the other, they temporarily occupy the House of People which essentially functions as a display case. Constantly changing programmes infuse the communist shell with different meanings as it loses its overpowering character.

Overleaf: (S3.4) Stills illustrating the stages of the permutation process within the Civic Centre area.


(S3.5) Editing the architectural canvas: diagram illustrating various permutation stages along the Union Boulevard


(S3.6) Montages: travelling buildings

Overleaf: (S3.7) Constant reconfiguration: Bucharest as Montage City


4.5 SCENARIO 4: TRANSFERENCE Earlier in our analysis of montage theories we came across Kuleshov’s ‘fabricated landscapes’, consisting in the editing together of various location across the world so that they appear to unfold under continguous spatiotemporal coordinates. At the same time, the study of Berlin and Havana provided useful insights into how these two capitals tackled issues of trauma, memory and decay, essentially functioning as role models for Bucharest. This scenario aims to investigate what results the implementation of foreign urban strategies would have when applied to the central matrix of the city and specifically, to our object of interest – The Union Boulevard and House of People area. In this sense, I believe Libeskind’s stance surfacing from his approach to Brandenburg Gate provides us with an essential clue in negotiating with the magnitude and meaning revolving around the House of People. By reducing the vehicular access along the Union Boulevard and concentrating on the North-South axis, it is intended to change the perception over the House of People as a convergence point, framed by the grey flanks and downgrade its status to that of a witness, anchored to the new axis as a side element. This is the same lesson we learned from Havana’s Capitolio and its adjacent position to Paseo Del Prado. Additionally, I believe the communist screening flanks of the boulevard can be addressed through the implementation of a grid structure similar to Havana’s which would revitalize the patterns of gaze through the introduction of various relief and vanishing points. Not only would this approach balance the visual axis towards the House of People, but it would also provide opportunities to reactivate and populate the Union Boulevard similarly to Paseo Del Prado. In this sense, increasing visual permeability towards the heart of the adjacent localities and neighborhoods is fundamental. Additionally, I am proposing for the same grid to extend across the vacuum surrounding the House of People and evolve into a densely knit environment, absorbing it into its matrix. Each new part, repetition or contradiction adds new meanings to the existing composition, summoning up the pre-montage of the city.


CONCEPTUAL EDITING: The Kuleshov Technique

Merging landscapes

Urban screening

El Capitolio and Paseo del Prado: reciprocal engagement

The House of People and the Union Boulevard: focal point

The element becomes ‘witness’ as opposed to focal point

Urban ‘scrambling‘ :’devalorizing’ the whole


(S4.1)Permeable vs. Dense: facade montage study of Havana revealing the rhythm of the ‘relief’ points within the unfolding elevational canvas in relation to the city’s grid. By contrast, the urban screening phenomenon dominating the flanks along the Union Boulevard controls the gaze towards the House of People, compromising any form of visual interaction with the adjacent localities.


(S4.2) Identifying the extents of the ‘urban wound’ within the immediate vicinity of the Civic Centre. Defining the main site for the implementation of Havana’s grid structure.


(S4.3) Copy/Paste urbanism: selection of the Havana grid patterns to be applied to the Bucharest site.

(S4.4) Fabricating Landscapes: merging the two scenarios

(S4.5) Piercing the Union Boulevard flanks at the intersection points with the transplanted grid. A new network of views emerges.


(S4.6) Propagation: gradual implementation of the new grid, absorbing and adapting Bucharest’s traumatized urban fabric to its new order.



(S4.7) Enhancement of the visual levels of permeability across the area.


(S4.8) The ‘running’ point as a means of deconstructing the communist monumentality.


4.6 SCENARIO 4: ERASURE The communist virus has infiltrated so deeply into the urban fabric that the city’s only chance for salvation seems to be provided by complete erasure. The chaotic dispersal of fragments asphyxiates and slows down any ideals of rebirth which can only be achieved if we break away from the destructive cycle of historical dependency and absorb the surfacing economic, social and political flows. Beacons of the emergent capitalist frenzy pierce the city’s skyline, announcing Bucharest’s exhilaration in embracing its postcommunist condition. Imagining a Bucharest catapulting into the sea of sameness, I propose the unblocking of a painfully slow process through the demolition of the Civic Centre area. Thus, recalling Koolhaas’s stance when discussing the ‘Generic City’, the urban network will discard any empowerment zones and focus on its horizontal expansion. Vehemently opposing Libeskind’s and Wood’s theories of healing, issues of memory, identity and history are set aside, while traumas lingering in the collective subconscious are regarded with indifference. As layers fail to fulfill their purpose they fade away gradually and are replaced by new structures. Since both the Union Boulevard and the House of People have been eradicated, I propose a revival of the old city grid which would neutralize the territorial distribution within the wider context. As hybridization takes its course, the city fragments are adopted by the urban texture, undergoing a continuous process of metamorphosis, while diffusing boundaries both on a physical and psychological level. CONCEPTUAL EDITING: Eradication of the centre

Self-propagating City

Rejection of history

Rhyzomic evolution system

Programmatic diffusion


(S5.1) Bucharest as ‘Generic City’: evolution of the self-propagating grid, constantly erasing the past while formulating the language for an urbanism of ‘sameness’.

(S5.2) Model using the staple as the key module in the propagation of the new urban dialectic.



(S5.3) Shifting from horizontal to vertical growth: the evolution stages of ‘Generic Bucharest’.


4.7 REFERENCES Duda, M. (2009). Bucharest and It’s Screening Devices, Anals of Spiru Haret University, Architecture Series, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 92 -109. Koolhaas, R. (2002), Junkspace, October, Vol. 100, Obsolescence, pp. 175-190. Tschumi, B. (1994). Architecture and disjunction. Cambridge , Mass, MIT Press. Woods, L. (1992). Anarchitecture: architecture is a political act. London , Academy Editions.


conclusion The research concerned itself with the formal discourse elaborated by the communist regime and its impact upon the existing urban and architectural urban fabric subjected to strict political control and governmental strategies. Starting from the assumption that the built environment of Bucharest is a highly fragmented one, I have explored these landscapes of trauma, with a particular view upon the central area of Bucharest, brutally savaged by the Ceausescu’s delirious spatial ambitions. Failing to understand the old city and in order to make room for the new communist ‘network’, extensive residential areas were demolished and communities relocated. In this sense, the Union Boulevard and House of People represent a blatant manifestation of the dictator’s aim to carve a new reality, by fervidly forging the plans for a painful rupture from the past, from an identity that Bucharest had tried so hard to formulate across centuries of history. One must add that great consideration should be attributed to the consequences this constant ‘dismembering’ process has had upon the city’s structure which has become increasingly fragile: its current social and cultural networks are built upon a traumatized urban tissue and the reasoning behind any radical interventions needs to be thoroughly argued. In this sense, the present study lent itself to the discussion of five possibilities addressing these issues through the application of deconstructivist and montage theories. While each scenario manages to successfully address certain formal and programmatic deficiencies within the current urban texture, they can be subjected to further questioning. For example, while the contamination of the totalitarian axis with contrasting events can lead to a revival of the area, the restoration of the communist architectural shell can prove to be a far too rigid environment for any cross-programmatic initiatives. Similarly, the re-sacralization of the area could be a challenging endeavor especially since we could argue that within the twenty three years since their relocation they forged new connections with the site and adoptive communities. Furthermore, while the transplant of foreign city models would indeed prompt a de-monumentalization of the totalitarian structure, it could raise further qualms as to whether Bucharest’s fragile tissue would absorb or reject an external urban graft, even though compatible on a theoretical level. Alternatively, the complete erasure of the Civic Centre would meet most resistance: although a painful reminder of a tumultuous past, it has developed symbolic properties across the collective subconscious and the locals have come to accept its presence as part of their daily lives and identity. Such a dramatic gesture would catalyze Bucharest’s evolution into a generic city, and implicitly, the diffusion of the urban identity would be difficultly assimilated by the inhabitants. Finally, the development of a montage city could pose further questions regarding the constantly reconfiguring corpus – space connection. Any sense of familiarity or belonging to certain spatial coordinates disappears, setting the boundaries for a fluid identity, for a non-urban structure. Although this approach might be deemed as purely illusory when opposed to the city’s pragmatic needs, I believe such utopian initiatives should not be discouraged for it is the sense that the ‘future could transcend the present’ (Jacoby 1999: xi) that leads to rediscoveries of fantasies and dream projections.


Henceforth, although each scenario can be contested, I believe they do formulate a pertinent theoretical basis for the future steps Bucharest should take in towards its recovery. Additionally, I consider that regardless of the chosen route, the city needs to reassess what its future aims are, what it is prepared to let go of or alter in favour of triggering the process of urban and metaphysical healing. Furthermore, the interaction between architecture and cinematic montage provides further exciting research opportunities. As Lucas (2002: 152) states: ‘Learning from film does not involve replicating the sets and backdrops; but rather an examination of the inherent structure of shots, edits and scenes within film.’ On one hand, it would be interesting to study the interactions between various architectural and urban typologies in depth, zooming in on the formal and programmatic situations that arise as the narrative unfolds both on an external and an internal level of the actual suture point. On the other hand, the correlation of montage with deconstructivist and mobility theories could generate further opportunities for the study of the organizational patterns the city could develop when responding to certain social, economic and political conditions. To conclude with, I believe I have achieved the aims stated at the beginning of the study. Although numerous unforeseen questions have arisen along the research journey, I consider they only emphasized the complexities of the topic and the variety of interpretations this study could inform.


additional reading Christie, I., & Taylor, R. (1993). Eisenstein rediscovered. London, Routledge. Debord, G. (1994). The society of the spectacle. New York , Zone Books. Hudson, H. D. (1994). Blueprints and blood: the Stalinization of Soviet architecture, 1917-1937. Princeton, N.J. , Princeton University Press. Ioan, A. (1999). Power, play, and national identity: politics of modernization in Central and East-European architecture : the Romanian file. Bucharest , The Romanian Cultural Foundation Pub. House. Knabb, K. (1981). Situationist International anthology. Berkeley, Calif, Bureau of Public Secrets. Koolhaas, R., MAU, B., SIGLER, J., & WERLEMANN, H. (1998). Small, medium, large, extra-large: Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rem Koolhaas, and Bruce Mau. New York , N.Y. , Monacelli Press. Koolhaas, R. (1994). Delirious New York: a retroactive manifesto for Manhattan. New York , Monacelli Press. Kracauer, S. (1960) Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality, New York: Oxford University Press. Kuleshov, L. V. (1974). Kuleshov on film: Writings. Berkeley: University of California Press. Lang, J. T., & Moleski, W. (2010). Functionalism revisited: architectural theory and practice and the behavioral sciences. Farnham, Surrey , England , Ashgate. Lavalley, A. J., & Scherr, B. P. (2001). Eisenstein at 100: A reconsideration. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press. Libeskind, D. (2000). Daniel Libeskind: the space of encounter. New York, Universe. Popescu, C. (2004) “Deconstructing Formalism: Socialist Realism versus Modernist Architecture�. Paper presented at the DoCoMoMo conference, New York. Read, A. (2000). Architecturally speaking practices of art, architecture, and the everyday. London, Routledge. Vertov, D., & Michelson, A. (1984). Kino-eye: the writings of Dziga Vertov. Berkeley, Ca, University of California Press. Woods, D., FELS, J., & KRYGIER, J. (2010). Rethinking the power of maps. New York, Guilford Press.


FILMOGRAPHY 12:08 East of Bucharest , 2006. Film. Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu. Romania: 42 km Film. 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days , 2007. Film. Directed by Cristian Mungiu. Romania: Mobra Films. Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution , 1965. Film. Directed by Jean-Luc Godard. France, Italy: Athos Films. Architecture and Power (Arhitectura si Puterea), 1993. Film. Directed by Nicolae Margineanu. Romania: Ager Film. Alexander Nevsky, 1938. Film. Directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein. Soviet Union: Mosfilm. Barrio Cuba, 2005. Film. Directed by Humberto Solás. Cuba: Cinematográficos (ICAIC).

Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industrias

Battleship Potemkin, 1925. Film. Directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein. Soviet Union: Goskino. Before night falls, 2000. Film. Directed by Julian Schnabel. USA: El Mar Pictures. California Dreamin’, 2007. Film. Directed by Cristian Nemescu. Romania: Media Pro Pictures. City of God, 2002. Film. Directed by Fernando Meirelles. Brazil, France: O2 Filmes. Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam, 1920. Film. Directed by Carl Boese, Paul Wegener. Germany: ProjektionsAG Union (PAGU). Der Himmel über Berlin, 1987. Directed by Wim Wenders. West Germany, Italy: Road Movies Filmproduktion. Germany Year Zero, 1947. Directed by Roberto Rossellini. Italy: Produzione Salvo D’Angelo. Good bye, Lenin!, 2003. Film. Directed by Wolfgang Becker. Germany: X-Filme Creative Pool. How I Celebrated the End of the World, 2006. Film. Directed by Catalin Mitulescu. Romania: Acht Frankfurt. M, 1931. Film. Directed by Fritz Lang. USA: Nero-Film AG. Man with a Movie Camera, 1929. Film. Directed by Dziga Vertov. Soviet Union: VUFKU. Mother, 1926. Film. Directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin. Soviet Union: Mezhrabpom-Rus.


Nostalghia, 1983. Film. Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. Italy, Russia: Opera Film Produzione. Nadie Escuchaba, 1987. Documentary. Directed by Néstor Almendros, Jorge Ulla. Cuba: Cuban Human Rights Film Project. October 1917 (Ten Days that Shook the World), 1917. Film. Directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein. Soviet Union: Sovkino. Requiem for a Dream, 2000. Film. Directed by Darren Aronofsky. USA: Artisan Entertainment. Run Lola Run, 1998. Film. Directed by Tom Tykwer. Germany: X-Filme Creative Pool. Tales from the Golden Age, 2009. Film. Directed by Cristian Mungiu. Romania: Mobra Films. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, 2010. Documentary. Directed by Andrei Ujica. Romania: ICON Production. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1920. Film. Directed by Robert Wiene. Germany: Decla-Bioscop AG . The King of Communism: The Pomp & Pageantry of Nicolae Ceausescu, 2002. Documentary. Directed by Ben Lewis. UK: Ben Lewis, Little Bird. The Paper Will Be Blue, 2006. Film. Directed by Radu Muneanu. Romania: Multimeadia Est. Run Lola Run, 1998. Film. Directed by Tom Tykwer. Germany: X-Filme Creative Pool. Tales from the Golden Age, 2009. Film. Directed by Cristian Mungiu. Romania: Mobra Films. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, 2010. Documentary. Directed by Andrei Ujica. Romania: ICON Production. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1920. Film. Directed by Robert Wiene. Germany: Decla-Bioscop AG . The King of Communism: The Pomp & Pageantry of Nicolae Ceausescu, 2002. Documentary. Directed by Ben Lewis. UK: Ben Lewis, Little Bird. The Paper Will Be Blue, 2006. Film. Directed by Radu Muneanu. Romania: Multimeadia Est. The Stendhal Syndrome, 1996. Film. Directed by Dario Argento. Italy: Cine 2000.


ILLUSTRATIONS (1) Cagnoni, R. 1989, Bucharest, a building in flames in the town centre [Online image]. Available from: [Accessed 1 August 2012]. (3) Cinà, G. 2010, The ‘Petit Paris’ in postcards. Bucharest, from village to metropolis: urban identity and new trends. Bucureşti, Capitel, pp. 21 - 25. (4) Unknown, Palatul CEC [online image]. Available online at: cladiri-monumentale-ale-bucurestilor-palatul-cec-23261 [Accessed 3 August 2012]. (6) Unknown, Horia Creanga, vila Ion Miclescu 1930 [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 27 July 2012]. (7) Cinà, G. 2010, Plan of the Brancovean period, early 18th century. Bucharest, from village to metropolis: urban identity and new trends. Bucureşti, Capitel, p. 85. (8) Celac, M., Oroveanu, M. T. 1999, Existing situation in 1906. Bucharest 2000. Bucharest, Melon Design Studio, p. 13. (9) Ibid. (10) Cinà, G. 2010, Master Plan, 1935 (detail). Document 11. Zoning. Bucharest, from village to metropolis: urban identity and new trends. Bucureşti, Capitel, p. 254. (11) Celac, M., Oroveanu, M. T. 1999, Master Plan - 1962. Bucharest 2000. Bucharest, Melon Design Studio, p. 15. (12) Ibid., p.17 (13) Marozas, M. 2009, Similarity of Soviet urbanity, despite the context and social implications. PostSocialist City, Adaptation of USSR-made urban structures in Lithuania, p. 5. Available online at: http:// [Accessed 04 July 2012]. (14) Ibid. (15) Unknown, Blocuri Bucuresti [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 19 July 2012].


(17) Unknown, Partially Demolished Kretulescu Inn [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 21 July 2012]. (18) Unknown 1977, The Demolishing of Ienei Church [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 22 July 2012]. (19) Unknown 1984, The Demolishing of Alba-Postavari Church [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 22 July 2012]. (20) Unknown 1989, Tiananmen Square people protesting [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 12 August 2012]. (21) Unknown, Abuja National Mosque [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 12 August 2012]. (22) Biak, K. 2008, Red square & Kremlin [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 12 August 2012]. (23) Harrison, J. 2008, Cathedral of Brasília [online image]. Available online at:!architecture/photostackergallery1=10 [Accessed 12 August 2012]. (24) Unknown, Legislative Assembly, Chandigarh [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 12 August 2012]. (25) Unknown, Pyongyang, North Korea, Chandigarh [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 12 August 2012]. (26) Celac, M., Oroveanu, M. T. 1999, Bucharest 1980- 1989. Bucharest 2000. Bucharest, Melon Design Studio, p. 19. (27) Ibid. (31) Cinà, G. 2010, Master Plan, 1935 (detail). Document 11. Zoning. Bucharest, from village to metropolis: urban identity and new trends. Bucureşti, Capitel, p. 291.


(33) Tschumi, B., 1994. Architectural Design 64.[online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 14 August 2012]. (34) Tschumi, B., 1994. The Manhattan Transcripts. London, Academy Editions, p. 32. (35) Life, L., 2011. Seattle Public Library. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 1 August 2012]. (36) Woods, L., 2011. La Habana Vieja, Spontaneous Building Mode. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 17 June 2012]. (36) Woods, L., 2011. La Habana Vieja, Spontaneous Building Mode. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 17 June 2012]. (37) Libeskind, D. 2004. Jewish Museum Berlin, Holocaust Void. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 4 August 2012]. (38) Unknown 1917. The Bolshevik Revolution. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 12 August 2012]. (39) El Lissitzky, 1919. Beat the white with the Red wedge. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 16 August 2012]. (40) Tatlin, V. 1917. Tatlin’s Toweror The Monument to the Third International. [online image]. Available online at: sculpture-for-lack-of-imagination-for-a-better-titlesilly-beck/tatlin-tower2/ [Accessed 19 August 2012]. (41) Rodhcenko, A. 1924. Photomontage for a Moscow Publisher. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 16 August 2012]. (43) Kuleshov, L. 1929.The Kuleshov Effect. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 14 August 2012]. (47) Marey, E. J. 1880. Geometric Chronophotograph of man walking. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 6 August 2012].


(50) Eisenstein, S. 1930. Excerpts from Montage and Architecture. Available online at: http://cosmopista. [Accessed 12 January 2012]. (51) Unknown, 2011. Uniunea Arhitectilor Bucuresti. [online image]. Available online at: http://www. [Accessed 11 August 2012]. (52) Brigante, C. 2007. Libeskind Jewish museum Berlin. [online image]. Available online at: http://www. [Accessed 11 August 2012]. (53) Wiersma, D. Old and modern architecture. [online image]. Available online at: http://www. [Accessed 11 August 2012]. (54) Unknown 1968. Student Revolt in Paris. [online image]. Available online at: gallery/mai%2068 [Accessed 10 August 2012]. (55) Cook, P. 1970. Metamorphosis of an English Town. [online image]. Available online at: http://375gr. [Accessed 10 August 2012]. (58) Herron, R. 1964. Walking City. [online image]. Available online at: http://top6x6.blogspot. [Accessed 10 August 2012]. (61) Unknown. The Translation Technique. [photographs] (Eugeniu Iordachescu’s own private collection). (63) Getty Images. The Berlin Wall. [online image]. Available online at: news/5-11-9/34374.html [Accessed 7 August 2012]. (64) Coleman, B., Berlin Sony Centre by Helmut Jahn. [online image]. Available online at: http://www. [Accessed 7 August 2012]. (65) Ricchi, D. 2004. Info-Box. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 7 August 2012]. (66) EuroPhoto & ESEM 2010. Plattenbau. [online image]. Available online at: berlin-photo.php?photo=berlin-flats [Accessed 6 August 2012]. (67) Hejduk, J. Printer House/Studio. [online image]. Available online at: case_studies/cases/cs01_6786/isocarp_paper_f.htm [Accessed 6 August 2012]. (68) Ibid. (70) Libeskind, D. 1991. Ăœber den Linden. [online image]. Available online at: case_studies/cases/cs01_6786/isocarp_paper_f.htm [Accessed 6 August 2012].


(71) Ibid. (73) Unknown 1953. The Cuban Revolution. [online image]. Available online at: http://travels-for-travelers. info/cuba [Accessed 7 August 2012]. (75) Unknown. Ciudad Camilo Cienfuegos, from a study on Cuban architecture at Places. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 29 April 2012]. (78) Culp, B. 2011. El Capitolio and Revolution Square, Havana, Cuba. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 7 August 2012]. (79) Unknown 2009. The House of People. [online image]. Available online at: news/casa-poporului-atractia-numarul-unu-pentru-turistii-straini-5195920 [Accessed 7 August 2012]. (83) Unknown 2006. Havana Capitolio. [online image]. Available online at: Bestand:Capitolio_2_Havana_Cuba.jpg [Accessed 8 August 2012].

(D.2) Unknown, A Fresh Rhizome of Cimicifuga Racemosa. Available online at: http://schizophrenicsummer. [Accessed 28 June 2012]. (D.3) Eisenstein, S. 1938, Diagram for Alexander A Nevsky 9, . Available online at: http://socks-studio. com/2011/04/21/sergei-eisenstein-sequences-diagrams-for-alexander-nevsky-and-battleship-potemkin/ [Accessed 2 May 2012]. (D.4) Still from Abel Gance’s ‘Napoleon’, 1927. Available online at: [Accessed 2 May 2012]. (D.5) Still from Robert Wiene’s ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’, 1920. Available online at: http://www. [Accessed 2 May 2012]. (D.6) Still from George Lucas’s ‘THX1138’, 1971. Available online at: http://funkyandfuzzy.blogspot. [Accessed 2 May 2012]. (K.6) OMA 1983. Parc de la Vilette Competition Entry. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 1 August 2012]. (K.9) Eyerman, J.R. 1952, Cover for Life Magazine. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 19 November 2011].


(L.4) Meinhard von Gerkan, 1999. Bucharest 2000. Bucharest, Melon Design Studio, p. 39. (L.5) Meinhard von Gerkan, 1999. Bucharest 2000. [online image]. Available online at: [Accessed 21 May 2012]. (W.1) Woods, L. 1992. Anarchitecture: architecture is a political act. London, Academy Editions, p.106. (W.2) Woods, L. 1996. The Havana project: Architecture Again : international conference on architecture, Havana, Cuba. Munich, Prestel, p.138 (W.3) Woods, L. 1992. Anarchitecture: architecture is a political act. London, Academy Editions, p.115. (W.6) Stroe, A. 2010. The Unirea Shopping Center in the Union Square in Bucharest, Romania. [online image]. Available online at: Center.jpg [Accessed 3 August 2012].



EUGENIU IORDACHESCU Structural Engineer, designer of the ‘Translation’ Technique Bucharest, 12th April 2012 Laura Minca (LM): Mr. Iordachescu, I would like to thank you for agreeing to take part in this interview, it is an honor to meet you. Firstly, could you tell me how do you remember Bucharest before and during the radical demolition process imposed on the urban fabric by the communist regime? What was the atmosphere like during those tumultuous times? Eugeniu Iordachescu (EI): We need to start our story with a period prior to the actual implementation era, with the event that triggered the dictator’s idea to draft the plan for a series of constructions that would be earth-quake proof. The experience of the earthquake frightened Ceausescu. When the earthquake happened on the 4th of March 1977, Bucharest lost 31 buildings. Out of these buildings, twenty-eight were part of the 1949-1950 period (what we can also refer to as the nationalization era), and three were newly built. At the time, we lost around 1514 persons and over 10 000 were hurt. The damage was enormous, and was estimated at an approximate of 2 billion American dollars. However, the dictator was not in the country at the time and had to immediately return to Romania from a diplomatic visit in Algeria. During this time, a national mobilization campaign was initiated with the aid of the National Army Forces and the Civil Protection Forces in order to save the human victims trapped under the piles of concrete. At the time I was the Technical Director of Project Bucharest. Our main work covered a broad area of programmes and was mainly concerned with the residential development of the city. Nevertheless, we also attended to the design of the commercial spaces, theatres, schools, kindergartens, and so on. Action had to be taken and at the time our team was comprised of 1800 architects, planners and technicians. Nevertheless, our team was small compared to the extensive damage caused by the earthquake. Fortunately, we received technical support from other academic centers among which Timisoara, Cluj, Iasi and we managed to complete the teams. In the end, we decided each team would comprise of three specialists that would go on site and put together official reports describing the degree of the damage.


The three new buildings that I referred to earlier include a block of apartments in the ‘Armata Poporului’ area, one on Lizeanu Street and the National Railway Calculus Centre. The rest of the damaged buildings were mainly located in the city centre area. As a result of the inventory the Institute put together, we were able to classify the extent of the losses into two categories: Emergency 1, and Emergeny 2. After analyzing these documents and the magnitude of the devastations upon the urban fabric, Ceausescu concluded this was the perfect opportunity to reorganize the city. As a result, after a series of discussions with the Central Committee, he decided to launch a competition. Six teams comprising of the most prominent Romanian architects of the time were assembled. Ceausescu did not have the ability to read urban plans, he did not have a clear vision of the city as a functioning whole. He asked for a landmark building to be designed, a building that would envelope the headquarters of the Central Party Committee, the Government and the State Council. As a response to his list of requirements, the concept behind the design of the House of People started to surface. We can assert this was the moment when Bucharest entered its mutilation phase. Before we go into any more detail we should mention the fact that Bucharest’s circulation scheme was extremely ‘healthy’, functional ever since the 1800s: a radial structure encompassed by three concentric rings. Ceausescu asked for a straight line to be drawn through the heart of the city. This rupture had irreversible effects upon the entire circulation apparatus which was irreversibly fragmented; this is the reason behind today’s high levels of traffic. All the connection nodes and flows were interrupted, blocked and the era of a never-ending congestion emerged. Things deteriorated even more when the E – W axis was introduced as a perpendicular on the N – S axis. The only way this problem can be tackled nowadays is through the underground network which the authorities are continuously expanding. Nevertheless, the four sectors resulted from the axial division are not fully tied together by the underground scheme and there are a series of other strategies that need to be implemented on the over-ground level in order for the city to fully recover. Going back to our story, each team of architects presented their systematization studies following the lines imposed by the new circulation axes. Since Ceausescu was not able to read technical drawings, he asked for large models to be built – we created hundreds of models at the time spreading over large areas. After an intensive selection process the proposals of two teams drew the attention of the dictator and so we were asked to build a huge model which was 400 square meters in terms of surface. Due to the enormous scale of the model, an electrical bridge had to be built so that he and his wife could closely observe the urban schemes and make further suggestions. The aspect that needs to be pointed out at this moment is that they were the ones that dictated the outlines of the regeneration scheme while the specialists were there to execute their orders. During one of these meetings, Ceausescu asked: ‘How wide is Aviatorilor Boulevard?’ The architect answered: ‘Roughly 70 meters between house fronts.’ Ceausescu said: ‘Let it be wider! Make it 90 meters wide!’.


This is how concept for the Unirii Boulevard surfaced as the axis that would link the House of People with Alba Iulia Piazza. The widening of the boulevard involved the further demolition of another row of houses and the losses were again massive. It was under these circumstances that the Uranus neighborhood was demolished in order to make room for the dictator’s most ambitious project to date – The House of Parliament. We were the coordinators of the entire systematization plan. After a scheme was agreed upon, the Institute summoned four hundred architects, and we had to immediately start preparing its implementation. Nevertheless, I wanted to see with my own eyes the area that was about to be demolished. It was under this circumstance, strolling along the Unirii area that I ran into the Mihai Voda Hill neighborhood. The architects were enticed by the idea of positioning the House of People on an elevated site since the play of heights and scale would contribute to the grandeur the edifice was aiming for. However, nobody suspected what was about to happen. As I was wondering around the area, I discovered the Schitul Maicilor Church which I was only acquainted with from the drawings and plans I was working on at the time. This little church looked breathtaking on the backdrop of peaceful spring scenery. As I entered the interior courtyard, I met the vicar who explained to me that the church was also housing the workshops for a variety of hand-made religious objects. I was deeply impressed with everything I had experienced during that afternoon but at the same time discouraged knowing the dark future that was lying ahead. The church had been built in 1726. After I visited the area, the idea that I had to do something in due time to save these buildings started to haunt me. At the time I felt I could not make this happen unless I moved them outside the area destined for the House of People scheme. As I returned to the office, I told my supervisor that I would like to ‘move’ the buildings and although initially my proposal was not taken seriously, I systematically insisted that something needs to be done. As a result of the radical restructuring of the city and the imposed modernization of the adjacent rural areas the attention of the international press turned to Romania. Radio BBC, Detusche Welle, everybody kept a close eye on the development of these events. My request to move the buildings coincided with this negative outlook upon Romania and as a result, my supervisor came to me one day and said: ‘It has been approved! Start the work!’ Ceausescu used to come regularly to the sites and visit the evolution of the process, sometimes even twice a week. LM: Did you have a defined technical plan for how you were planning to achieve the ‘translation’ of the buildings? EI: I had a good idea of what I was going to do, but the system had to be perfected. After I researched the international press, I realized that the technique I was about to use was remarkably similar to the restructuring plan that Ludovic XVI employed for the widening of Paris’s boulevards: it was crazy! As soon as Ceausescu approved the scheme, work started on site immediately. One afternoon, Ceausescu and his wife arrived on site as the church was ready for the translation to effectively commence. As the visit came to an end, Elena Ceausescu told him: ‘They did it after all!’ Her comment suggested that we were given the approval to proceed with our plan, while the Party was secretly hoping that we would succeed in implementing it. Ever since that moment, Ceausescu supported the translation action, but she set herself completely against it. ‘Schitul Maicilor’ Church required five different movements in space in order for it to


travel the 245 meters. It was a complex process but the technique I managed to patent in the end worked flawlessly. This represented the stepping stone for many other buildings to be rescued. This represented the stepping stone for many other buildings to be rescued. LM: Were you the first one to implement this technique? EI: Yes, I was. Nevertheless, we must mention the remarkable efforts of the Yugoslavians to move Piva Monastery. Their process was completely different though: firstly, they deconstructed the entire building, then they numbered and labeled every part and finally they reconstructed it in a different place. In my opinion, through this technique the objective loses its integrity, its intrinsic value and spirituality. LM: Did you use this technique for other buildings in Bucharest? EI: While in Bucharest, I moved residential blocks while the residents where still in them, carrying on with their daily chores. Ceausescu started to like the process and its results: I received a decree after every single visit with indicators of distance weight, financial, time. Suzana Gadea which was at the time the Secretary of the State Council in Cultural Affairs visited one of the blocks on Stefan cel Mare Street. As we were observing the process of translation, I explained to her that the water and light were still running and that even the elevator was working. She wanted to see it for herself and we took the elevator to the sixth floor. We met one of the neighbors and she asked for a glass of water. Later on I understood she wanted to check if there were any vibrations on the surface of the liquid as the building was travelling: none whatsoever! The telephone lines, the gas pipes, the sewage, they were all working while the residential block was moving! We used elastic coupling for all the connections, and none of the activities of the residents were interrupted. LM: How does the process actually work? EI: The buildings were mounted on train tracks and then pulled with the help of electric trolleys. We didn’t lift anything as the basis for our concept was keep all within the same plane. For example, the Antim Synodal Palace weighed over 9000 tons. We didn’t disrupt the library in any way; we didn’t want to take the books or archives out since they were fragile pieces and their arrangement would have been disturbed by any foreign movement. Everything should be kept in the same plane; this is the secret of my technique. LM: How did you manage to insert the railway tracks under the buildings? EI: There is a technological process I developed which is based on a set of different movements so that the transport elements can be introduced under the building. We used 30 cm wheels in diameter, fixed under the ‘tray’ supporting the underside of the building while being pushed by hydraulic jacks or pulled by electric trolleys on the railway tracks. If a rotation, a lifting or a lowering movement was required we would have the technical means to support the operation.


My idea stemmed from the way a waiter carries his tray: a rigid surface is holding the glasses in a horizontal plane. Therefore, as the waiter makes his way around the guests the safety of the glasses is not compromised. There is also a principle in physics – Navier’s theory – that states that a point in space can change its position only if there is a deformation of some sort affecting the plane it is supported by. If there is no deformation, this means that that point will remain fixed. Starting from this principle that the waiter applies subconsciously, instinctually, I managed to develop the translation technique. This method needs to be adapted however to each type of building; there is no fixed recipe for it. LM: Which was the most difficult building you had to move? EI: Mihai-Voda Church. At the time, I invited Leslie Robertson, the chief structural engineer of the World Trade Centre to take a look at our work. He was surprised to witness how the translation process operates and confessed he had never seen anything like it. As he watched me and my crew working under the building, he expressed his worry regarding the health and safety regulation policies. The whole responsibility was on my shoulders, I was the one that had to develop the entire array of health and safety measures to avoid any type of on-site accidents. I believe one can be as concerned with the safety factors the construction of the deliriously high Twin Towers involved. LM: Is anybody else applying the translation technique in Romania? EI: No, and I wished this technique had been further developed; it has an extraordinary potential to improve the current urban fabric of the city. During the ‘Golden Age’ a few objectives were saved and even Ceausescu understood it was a ground-breaking concept that could reach new heights. Even so, years after this technology was developed, it’s still not used! For example, why don’t we make use of it to save Matache Market? Why demolish such a valuable, historical objective? I recently submitted a proposal to move it, but I never received a response despite my efforts to relaunch the principle of ‘translation’. We could achieve so much nowadays through applying this technique to the right areas of the city. LM: Is there a weight or surface limit that would hinder your method from working? EI: No, there is no limit, only different technical procedures that need to be adapted and applied according to each building type.


NICOLAE MARGINEANU Film Director of the documentary ‘Architecture and Power’ (1993) Bucharest, 10th April 2012 Laura Minca: Mr. Margineanu, I would like to thank you for agreeing to take part in this interview, it is great opportunity to meet you. Firstly, could you tell me how do you remember Bucharest before and during the radical demolition process imposed by the communist regime? Nicolae Margineanu: Yes, I moved to Bucharest in 1964 but I had the chance to visit the city beforehand and one of the things that really impressed me was the residential neighbourhoods. I even had the opportunity to experience the Bucharest slum and the atmosphere was extremely lively, friendly, it was a place overflowing with greenery and poetry. LM: Considering Bucharest’s fragmented condition in urban terms, could you please tell me how do you believe the scenography of the city has been altered? Your documentary ‘Architecture and Power’ is a direct reference to the urban demolitions which transformed the urban scenario in an irreversible manner… NM: Yes, we made the documentary in 1993 when the events were still very fresh in everyone’s memory, and we had an overwhelming desire to tell people what had happened during that period. The idea of ‘translation’ was a brilliant solution at the time since many religious centres were saved. Unfortunately, others were completely destroyed: Vacaresti Monastery was an architectural jewel, it had just been refurbished and… Everything that followed was horrific. Even if we consider the case of the translated churches, things are far from being the same – their initial location was sacred, it was a blessed, holy piece of land, and that is where they truly belonged. Once you relocate them it’s not the same, something changes… LM: Do you believe in the stance of the architect as a director of every-day life? Do you think the architect should attribute a higher importance to the phenomenological qualities of the space? NM: I believe the human should play a central part in the design process since during that period it was the socialist block that received most attention. For example, I never see people strolling along Unirii Boulevard, enjoying the space since it’s mostly cluttered with cars and it is perceived as an extremely unwelcoming area. LM: What would you say is the role of scenography within the wider process of film-production? NM: When it comes to film, the scene, the sequence depends on the main subject that the story revolves around. What scenography aims to do is to revive the atmosphere, the ambiance and of course, where it is possible, recreate the buildings of the era. If the action takes place in a contemporary environment the same principle is applied: which is the thread of the storyline and where does it take us?


It is one thing to depict a family of intellectuals who display a certain taste for the interior design of the room, and another to show the flat or the house of someone who has recently moved from the country-side to the city. LM: Do you think a compromise could have been reached in terms of the implementation of the urban systematization process? NM: Unfortunately, Ceausescu did not pay attention to any of the advice that he was given. As far as I know, he was presented with several alternatives, there were immense external pressures and internal complaints but he did not listen. From this point of view, he was not a bloody dictator but he was awfully cruel through his aspiration for idolatry and through the means chosen for achieving what he aimed for. He wanted everybody to adulate him, to cheer for him – I can still remember the gatherings in front of the House of Parliament, the Great National Assembly – there was a general feeling of shame floating in the air. LM: Why did you decide to make that documentary at the time? NM: It was my first documentary, and we chose it as a film form since we needed to show reality as authentically as we could. An artistic film would have been a lot more difficult to produce due to the dramatic changes from one day to the other on the political and urban scene. At the time I was reading Augustin Ioan’s book ‘Architecture and Power’ on totalitarian architecture and I realized that making a documentary was a relatively inexpensive way of conveying the atmosphere of those times. We obtained the funding and we produced it. LM: I would be interested in finding out how did a director perceive this sudden change within the urban scenario? NM: Whenever I watch the film I am happy to see that it managed to preserve the atmosphere of the times – the street embodied the socialist feel – old cars, deprived lifestyles, and an abundance of neglected spaces – wounds of the city, terrible wounds the traces of which are still visible. There is still a lot that Bucharest should be done in order for it to recover, for it to heal. Take for example other cities such as Brasov, Cluj or Sibiu where things seem to be heading in the right direction. One feels so different in such cities; one feels proud to be Romanian. When in Bucharest, this doesn’t happen very often. LM: Many of the films you have produced along your career bear strong references to communism… NM: Yes, because this is still part of our recent history which I was directly part of. I was born in 1938, so I even witnessed the WWII; those events were part of my family’s past ever since my father was arrested on political grounds. He spent 17 years and two months in prison and this inspired me to keep on making films about this era. So much literature was published after the fall of communism, there are so many stories and confessions which should continue being told; there are so many row-models that should be revived since there is such a great need for their influence in our contemporary society. I hope other film-makers will continue tapping into this history which is so rich and complex.


dINU GIURESCU Historian, Academician and Professor of Art History and Theory, The University of Bucharest Bucharest, 12 Aprilie 2012 Laura Minca (LM): Prof. Giurescu, I would like to thank you for agreeing to take part in this interview, it is an honor to meet you. Firstly, could you tell me how do you remember Bucharest before and during the radical demolition process imposed on the urban fabric by the communist regime? What was the atmosphere like during those tumultuous times? Dinu Giurescu (DG): Well, I certainly remember. Firstly, it depended on the area one used to live in. For instance, the central zone bordered by major boulevards such as – Stefan cel Mare, Mihai Bravu, Titulescu – was mainly comprised of a mixture of lower, middle, and high-class citizens - a part of them actually owned the houses they lived in. I used to live in a house that belonged to my parents, inherited from the grandparents on my father’s side, which also included a yard, a house - that my parents subsequently extended with one extra floor when they got married. That is where us, the children used to live. First and foremost, there was a more ‘human’ atmosphere as opposed to today’s incessant frenzy: quickly, quickly, hurry up! Why hurry? Why this madness? So we can reach heaven or hell sooner? Back then the rhythm of life was by far more stable: one knew that at lunchtime he could pick up a newspaper from the newspaper stand on the corner street, that at seven o’clock in the evening as soon as the night fell the lamplighter would come (since the lamps lining our street, Berzei Street, were still working on gas at the time) ; one knew that once every two days the peddler would deliver to the doorstep a wide variety of fresh food – from fish to vegetables, eggs, poultry and so on – and would write down on a piece of paper pinned onto the wall of the house so that one would pay once a week; one knew that if a window was broken the glazier would come, heralding his presence down the street; one could go across the road and buy coffee from ‘Baldichian’ who was the service Armenian on Berzei Street, one could go to ‘Erenescu’ on the corner where they would sell salami. Also, Matache Market was located at 200-300 meters away and it was considered to be a relatively cheap place to buy food. It was a grounded world, a world which had a high percentage of illiterate people and firstly, a world that wasn’t lacking food. In the countryside, almost three quarters of the population used to live in houses without a restroom, without permanent water services; nevertheless, the system allowed for the people living in rural areas to overcome their status. My grandfather from my father’s side was born in a small, mountain village called ‘Chiojd’. He graduated both high-school and university, he managed to obtain a lecturer position within the department and he was working as part of the Academy – all this without any political interventions and without marrying a woman that would bring along a substantial inheritance. The mechanism was extremely flexible, even though, at a first glance it was filled with shortcomings/difficulties.


Nowadays, the rhythm has completely changed, it seems like we are becoming the ‘machines’. During those times, the community spirit was extremely strong - not only on my street but also within the adjacent neighborhoods. Everybody was closely connected their locality, to the ‘urban’ world at the time. Of course one is free to assume that any elderly can have his mind clouded by the emotion of the nostalgic thoughts, but the world we are living in at the moment goes against nature - a world craving for money, chasing ideals all the time: excellence, excellence, excellence…When will this stop, I wonder? I believe a moment will come when all this craziness will implode and things will go back to basics. LM: Could tell me a bit more about communism and about how it unfolded historically speaking? DG: I lived under the communist regime for forty years in total - from ‘48 until ‘88 – as an adult. In ‘48 I was twenty-one years old, in ‘88 I was sixty-two years old and I was highly interested with everything that was going on at the time. So hopefully I will be able todepict an accurate thread of event for you. In ‘68 I obtained my PhD after I had worked on the construction site for about six years. After I was awarded the PhD, I was allowed to return to the academic world. By ‘55-‘56 I didn’t manage to obtain any position suitable for my academic preparation since my father was detained and then he was released. I was regarded as being the son of the country’s enemy. However, after he was released he was told: ‘Professor, don’t be upset, we know what happened, and form now on everything will be work out for you.’ Of course, this favorable situation only lasted for 8 years. Therefore, I can share with you some knowledge about the regime, especially since there are twenty-two years since its decline. And most importantly, comparing the events of that time with Romania’s current situation will allow you to nuance you judgment regarding communism and its implications. Let’s analyze the events gradually: the first part, up until 1962-63 was extremely challenging; the second part from 1965 up until the 1980s can be referred to as the normal communist disposition; finally, after 198182 things started deteriorating dramatically and in ‘85 the events reached their peak in terms of complexity and intensity. During the first part, the communists came to power: they wiped any connections with the historical past; the ‘proletarian internationalism’ was ruling and so was the devotement towards the Soviet Union; the food was scarce in the cities while in the rural areas food was even more difficult to get hold of - all sort of restrictions were imposed. On the other hand, it is true we also had to pay the war damages, the remaining debts in the truce’s account. Additionally, the wages were extremely low because the regime had embarked an extensive urban systematization program aimed to facilitate the implementation of what they referred to as the ‘socialist industrialization’ and the ‘collectivization of agriculture’. In order to take these actions to completion, large amounts of funds were required. Bear in mind the fact that they never resorted to loans.


Firstly, we could say that these financial upheavals were relatively bearable if it was not for the ‘class struggle’ which was the trigger for the atrocities that were to come. Every person that belonged to a certain class was categorized as potential enemy of the communist regime. Some of citizens were dismissed from their jobs, even the pensioners were ‘weeded out’. Secondly, a retroactive law was applied: one could be condemned for deeds committed in the past and that, for example, were perfectly legal in the 20s and 30s. Nevertheless the regime would consider them as violations. Thirdly, the ‘class struggle’ would propagate fervid investigations of the family members of the individuals considered as a threat for the regime. In the rural environment, 75% of the population was undergoing the struggle for the ‘agricultural collectivization’. On a crude level, this implied convincing the ‘peasant’ to abandon his private property and join the so-called ‘co-operatives’ which, in essence, were collective farms. It was a manner of abolishing private property in agriculture – why? They started from the reasonable assumption that an intensive agriculture system cannot achieve its true potential if the land is fragmented in small parcels because it’s not profitable it did not allow for a further expansion, since it was not possible to buy further equipment, tools, chemicals and everything else that is required for an efficient, productive agriculture. So their principle was to join all the fragments of land into one large lot. As a historian, I understood the logistics behind this operation. However, above all this, they were concerned with a much larger issue: the control and manipulation of the peasantry. This is what happened in Russia and by extension this is what happened in Romania as well. In 1948, 75% or 74 % of Romania’s population was rural and the land belonged to the locals, be it small or vast surfaces. A man that produces his own food is a man that cannot be controlled by the party […] There was a symbiotic relationship between man and his plot of land and above all, there was a symbiotic report between him and the resident of the city - the circuit was working perfectly. The question they posed was: how to control the rural mass of citizens which made up for 75% of the country’s population? Easy – by taking their land. So that they would not be accused of forcefully taking the land, they invented a slogan: ‘We are only fighting against the kulaks’ which statistically didn’t comprise more than 6-7% of the population. Nevertheless, they did own around 25-30% of the land and through their economical power they could oppose the party. Consequently, they invented this formula of ‘class-struggle’ across the countryside, claiming the party, is leaning against the poor and middle-class peasantry, and is leading an endless fight against the upper-class peasantry – the kulaks. This was the official slogan that they advanced. Everything sounded logical, except for the fact that in reality, the ‘bombardment’ against the entire rural class had started: taxes, fines, arrests, imprisonments, political pressures; this lasted from 1949, when the collectivization politics had been officially promulgated, up until 1962. This process couldn’t be implemented quicker since the peasantry imposed a passive resistance, and the party acknowledged these circumstances. Nevertheless, the general feeling of exhaustion across the masses following the State’s incessant demands, led to a surrender of land to the ‘collective’ and thus, the new era of the socialist or collectivist agriculture was emerged.


At this point, we must also remind the fact that the urban residents were controlled to a system of coupons, while the people in the countryside were deprived even from this ‘privilege’. The people in the city had a part of their food and clothing expenses subsidized by the state. It was an advantageous system for the regime since they only had to subsidize a fraction of the living costs for those living in the city. Even under these circumstances, things varied from one category to another: if one was a pensioner, or a child the funds would differ. For the adult mass, everything was distributed according to the position occupied: public functionary, railway worker, engineer on a construction site, miner, metallurgist and so on. Therefore, this system of social protection was closely related to the position and the type of work that one was carrying. All of these factors including the debts towards the Soviet Union (since we had lost the war) lead to an extremely difficult period from 1948 to 1955-56. In the aftermath of the tumultuous international context (the Hungarian Revolution, the events in Poland), Gheorghiu Dej realized that something needs to be done to gain certain popularity among the citizens. As a result, they started ‘loosening the ties’: finding food and clothing became less of a strain; in 1963-64 they released the prisoners held on political grounds; they remembered that there is a motherland and that this motherland had an extremely rich history. Gradually, History regained its position within the academic curriculum but also within the cultural events and programs. When one hundred years were celebrated since the Great Union of the Principalities (1859-1959), they broadcasted the Union Hora on the radio. The emotion was so strong - in 1959 I was 32 years old - that I couldn’t believe it considering that before, if one was heard simply humming the hymn, he would be sent directly to prison. It was obvious that this time they adopted a different strategy and so, they allowed the people to enjoy the moment. This was an extremely intelligent political gesture of ‘controlled relaxation’, very well controlled, but which gave the masses the belief that they had regained their country, that they were part of it. It was a breath of fresh air. Although things were extremely well controlled as I mentioned, a relative state of normality was reached. Henceforth, towards the end of the 1950s, I can say that I lived this extremely welcomed regime of ‘controlled normality’. During the 1962-63 period, they allowed for the ‘Europa Libera’ radio to be broadcasted without any sort on interruptions. Overall, it was a very well thought strategy and this was confirmed to me as a result of an encounter with my cobbler, Nea Sandu who owned a small shoe-repair workshop in my neighborhood. He was indeed an extremely special character (he used to be part of the artillerymen on the Eastern Front), and his eyes would always fill with tears when evoking that period. One day, while in his workshop, he asked: ‘Professor, did you listen to Europa Libera yesterday?’ I replied: ‘Unfortunately I did not manage to, but what happened, anything interesting?’ – ‘I didn’t really understand the whole announcement, but I think they tore the party to pieces and I’m happy so happy they taught them a lesson! ’ From this scene we gather the fact that even if the person did or did not understand what was happening, he inferred that the communist leaders were rumbled. And thus, within the man’s subconscious an idea was budding that one day, all his worries could vanish. The communist tactic was extremely intelligent in this sense, especially since they were dominating every aspect of the state mechanism and they realized that the population should be allowed to listen to the propaganda for the Party’s own benefit ultimately. Sometimes we used to be told that we should stop listening to the imperialist propaganda, but no one listened. The only thing that was forbidden promoting orally what had been heard.


The only forbidden thing was promoting orally what had been heard. This was their sole prerogative. They also released the passports. There was a relaxation floating in the air which also attracted the people to a certain degree. LM: Could you please tell me what caused Communism’s downfall? DG: The main reasons lie behind the plans of Nicolae Ceausescu. According to the image he had built for himself he might as well have been an honest man, aspiring towards the country’s genuine prosperity and well-being. Nevertheless, he interpreted the idea of ‘prosperity’ in a certain way: ‘I need to develop as much as possible the Industry and its adjacent branches, so that by raising the economical power of the nation, a fraction of it can be reoriented towards each family.’ Things could have apparently worked, but he subdued the Romanian economy to huge pressures under a set of extremely unfavorable economic circumstances. At the same time ‘Dunarea- Marea Neagra’ Canal was built, the subway, Dambovita river was swerved through an underground system of canals, up to 30% of the national fund was reoriented towards the accumulation fund for emerging industries, the House of People was built and finally, Bucharest was under a system of urban systematization. All these supplementary programs were imposed upon the population. Another aspect that he failed to understand was the country’s economy – he thought that if he multiplies the level of organisms and laws, things would fall back into place, but the opposite happened! As Romania’s industrial network was increasingly densified, a series of contractual obligations emerged between each set of units, which could not be solved through the orders of the political executive committee. A minimum of freedom, of flexibility should have been offered to each industrial unit in order to enable them to schedule their deliveries through mutual agreements. He failed to understand this aspect. He did not understand that the economical organism, even within a socialist environment needs a certain moment of respiro, that it needs to be allowed to operate through its own forces, and not through permanent directives from the executive political committee. On top of everything he was fixated on the mad ambition to pay Romania’s 11 billion dollar debts – and he did! This added a new set of constraints upon the population. He managed to obtain all these goals by forcefully imposing its goals upon the masses, upon the political and even security apparatus the support of which he had lost. This is a relatively funny affair, since when things got out of control, he ordered the Army to reestablish the order among the masses and not the Security, even though the latter were better informed on the country’s situation at the time. Regardless of his good intentions, he did not understand any of these crucial aspects. On top of everything, he also had the misfortune to be accompanied by a wife whose character and actions are difficult to put into words. His illness and his age made him loose track of his own life and actions. LM: His wife was an extremely active member within the Party’s decision making process…


DG: Yes, indeed. She was controlling the sciences through the National Council of Science and Technology and she was also controlling the appointments of the academic staff part of the Central Committee. She was indeed extremely powerful, and when combined with her limited understanding of the matters she was handling, the 1989 December upheaval was accelerated. LM: Why was communism so eager to make an urbanistic stand? DG: Everything was closely connected to the vision they had upon society. One aspect we must draw attention upon is the role of the working class which was directly involved in the spheres of construction and industry. It was regardeed as a leading class especially since the first generation among the party members originated from this very realm. The working class was playing an essential part in the country’s development. On the other side, there were the other socio-professional categories along with the peasantry. These were primary categories society was divided in. Consequently, they had to find a solution to accommodate the rural masses flooding the cities; a high numbers of urban residences that was required. The flows of population migrating towards the city lead to a dramatic increase in the urban population from 24-25% in 1948, to a 58-59% percentage in 1989. Initially, they solved this problem by seizing the flats, cramming the owners in one or two rooms and then sequestering the rest of the residence. This strategy functioned to a certain degree until 1958-59 when Gheorghiu Dej realized a new program of urban reconstruction had to commence. Who were they building for? This is what it was important. They were building for the working class, for the clerical people, for the Intelligentsia, for all the socioprofessional categories that were forming the reality of the time. In a way, they dealt with the issue a lot better than our leading class is today. Why? - Because the state was building a ‘home’ for everyone through their perfectly correlated ‘artificial’ pricing system. As an employee, one could pay installments for their own apartment. With the down-payment offered by the state one could own the house he lived in by the end of the process. Those that couldn’t afford buying the flats could rent them at very low prices, and the commodities to pay were extremely affordable. A great majority of these apartments were offered to the people migrating from the countryside which were mesmerized with the comfort of central heating, hot water – these were much more important for the man than his freedom of speech. Psychologically, thing were very well thought. This architectural program corresponded to the regime’s ‘guarding’ of necessities: ‘These are the people I am making use of and this is my strategy regarding social protection that I am offering to them’. LM: Nevertheless, how can we explain this architectural ego manifested by the communist regime, this need for spectacle? DG: Up until Gehorghiu Dej’s death, there was no need for spectacle – there were these monotonous, grey, sad blocks but they did the job. Once Ceausescu came to power, things took a completely different turn – this was all connected to his vanity. For example, lets take a look at the National Theatre which is currently under refurbishment – the original plans depict a playful structure which special geometries, a very well


thought project. However, Ceausescu did not like it. He ordered for a cube, adorned with a series of circular ornaments. He was besotted with this vision of grandeur. An eloquent example of his arduous wish for immortality can be extracted from his speech when the ‘Dunarea-Marea Neagra’ Canal was inaugurated. He states: ‘Over centuries, will generations commemorate this grand construction that joins the Danube and the Black Sea.’ […] This was his personal impulse: The House of People – as the perfect example of his vanity. It is well known that he visited the Third-World countries in the 80’s, he was paying the debts, he had a 2 billion dollar reserve In Bucharest – it is unbelievable what he had obtained imposing on the country so many sacrifices – and some say that he was aspiring to create an alternative to the national monetary fund in partnership with the development countries. […] LM: If we consider that the urban environment is essentially ‘nature’ for the person born in the city, how did it feel to witness the demolition of the surrounding world you were so familiar with? DG: I witnessed this change of scenography live. What they mainly took down was the traditional architecture of Bucharest, the inter-war urbanism of one or two stories. From a sentimental point of view, it was extremely painful. When I saw the side wall of our house falling and I recognized my room on the top floor… I wanted to take them down… They took my life apart at the time, especially since it was my childhood home. [...] For the urban class, it was a very difficult situation, but at the end of the day we had to deal with it. As per the French saying: ‘Plaie d’argent n’est pas mortelle’ or ‘The money loss is not lethal’. […] What is curious however is the fact that, even after the 1989 revolution, this demolition and radical reconstruction process is still implemented. There is also a book I published in the United States called ‘The Raising of Romania’s Past’ which was released in Romania in 1988, before Ceausescu’s downfall. At the time I was so distraught by the demolitions that I felt as if it was the end of the world. Today, when I look at what is currently happening in Bucharest, I realize that at least those demolitions had a social purpose - they happened for the sake of the working people, they had a scope. Today, architecture only seems to envisage the construction of office spaces, with gigantic towers of twenty-two, twenty-three floors that destroy the entire urban environment. This is the true atrocity of our times. Alternatively, they allow the patrimony buildings which are only partially protected by law to fall apart, so that they can be eventually eradicated in order to make room for these towers or other architectural oddities. It worse today than it was before, this is my opinion. Bucharest is a fractured city. LM: Are there other cities where you consider the communist regime handled the urban fabric in a different manner? DG: In Poland things were approached differently – they reconstructed the old centre of Warsaw which was previously destroyed by the war; in Budapest there were wide sections of the city that were spared from any unwanted interventions similar to Ceausescu’s approach.


I even told him to his face that his approach was wrong. We had a meeting with fifty-five specialists in May 1980 when the 15th International Congress of Historical Sciences was being held at Bucharest. Ceausescu summoned us without notice – I was told two hours beforehand that I had to attend along with fifty-five other historians. He wanted to hear our personal opinions, sieving through a list which contained twenty names. I was number eighteen and I was told: ‘Say whatever you wish, seven minutes, no longer.’ As Ceausescu appointed me to speak (he probably wanted to see who I was as he was familiar with my father’s work), the first phrase that I said was: ‘Do not demolish the cities of this country! For economical reasons – there is still a residential system that can be used, for lifestyle quality reasons – this residential system offers higher quality, wider living spaces than the current ones, and for historical reasons since they represent our individuality on an architectural level.’ Nothing happened, they recorded me and the next day summoned me to appear on TV and praise him. So one could speak his mind after all! This is the enormous phariseeism that many specialists claim. Nevertheless, I do understand the architects: they had a variety of projects on the line during communism – not only for the refurbishment and redesign of certain areas and circulation arteries, but also projects such as markets, schools, hospitals - they did a lot of good work. I am not blaming them, they lived in a totalitarian regime and they needed a wage. LM: Is there an area in Bucharest that you consider is the urban expression of the post-Decembrist capitalist era that Romania is currently experiencing? DG: These glass towers that have been erected after the fall of communism have a clear function: they are points that disjoin and disfigure the architecture of the city. They have no urbanistic purpose in my opinion, on the contrary. They are dissolution factors of the urban profile.[…] It is this so called democratic regime that allowed for such glass atrocities to take shape – on Calea Victoriei, between Sf. Gheorghe and Victoriei Plaza there are six more towers designed to arise. Due to the economical crisis, they are yet to be built. Imagine what happens if on such a short distance one inserts six more structures similar to the one next to Sf. Iosif. Imagine the chaos they would create…it is a monstrosity! This shows their lack of consideration towards the people. The current regime is infinitely worse than the communist one because the communist regime had an ideology that revolved around the idea of protecting the working class: ‘I will do something for them!’ These tower blocks are like cancerous cells which spread around them even more architectonic dissolution. LM: It almost feels like we are trying to catch up with what the Westernized world perceives as ‘modernity’. DG: They spread more dissolution and disjunction more than anything else – this fracturing between a twenty-three stories tower and an urban regime of P+2, P+3 maximum. It’s monstrous what is happening now. It is not even true capitalism that we are experiencing – it’s more of a wild race, chasing cheap and easy earnings in association with state authorities.


LM: Do you consider there is an area in Bucharest that functions well, scenographically speaking? DG: The Cotroceni neighborhood, the Polona Street and its adjacent streets are scenographic areas. Towards the Dristor area, behind the blocks there is a collection of residences, Vatra Luminoasa; there is also Ghica Tei where they built in the 1930s a range of residential villas for the middle class. Nevertheless, these areas are limited. Cotroceni, Filipescu Park are wider in surface and allow you to explore the space in a way that one can understand the atmosphere of Bucharest in the inter-war period as lived by middle and higher-middle class. LM: Do you believe we can restore Bucharest’s health in any way considering the fact that we are looking at a traumatized, extremely fractured urban fabric? DG: Firstly, we should halt the construction of the tower blocks. What has been built up to this point we cannot demolish unless another earthquake comes through – they should simply be banned. Secondly, the urbanistic regime that has been established up to this point should be respected: P+2, P+3, P+4, P+5. If endless exemptions from this rule are going to be allowed, we will end up with an irreversible chaotic environment. The wish for money is far too great even for those leading the urbanistic destinies of the city. Things can be done right, and this is proved by the current administration of the city through projects such as Lia Manoliu stadium. General interventions can be applied. But for the order to be restored it would mean for the Architects Order to be a part of this change, of this ‘cleansing’ of the city. For example the Police Headquarters on Lascar Catargiu Boulevad doesn’t bother me visually: even if it mainly glass and concrete, it respects the scale and the volumetric ensemble of the adjacent buildings. I agree with the merging of different styles within the same frames. […] The tower blocks are the cancerous factor of the current architecture that needs to be. LM: Do you consider there is an area in Bucharest that functions well, scenographically speaking? DG: The Cotroceni neighborhood, the Polona Street and its adjacent streets are scenographic areas. Towards the Dristor area, behind the blocks there is a collection of residences, Vatra Luminoasa; there is also Ghica Tei where they built in the 1930s a range of residential villas for the middle class. Nevertheless, these areas are limited. Cotroceni, Filipescu Park are wider in surface and allow you to explore the space in a way that one can understand the atmosphere of Bucharest in the inter-war period as lived by middle and higher-middle class.


maria duda Architect and Tutor at the Faculty of Architecture, ‘Spiru Haret’ University Bucharest, 12 Aprilie 2012 Laura Minca: Mrs. Duda, I would like to thank you for agreeing to take part in this interview, it is a pleasure to speak to you. . LM: Firstly, could you tell me why did communism decide to manifest its ideology in such a forceful manner, architecturally speaking? MD: Well, this is mainly due to the fact that it aspired towards a grand presence, one that would dominate the entire urban fabric and correspond to its ideological, political and cultural ideals. Therefore, it required a physical, even artistic manifestation of all these tenets of hierarchy that would form the support for all these values. This is the reason why the regime intervened both on an architectural and urban level. We should recall that the main slogan at the time read: ‘We are building Socialism!’ Of course, this applied on both a theoretical and practical level. LM: How would you describe the communist urban and architectural typology? MD: The tracing of the main axes, the formulation of new cultural, social and political centers. At the time when the Union Axis was built, the National Academy, the new National Library, the Radio House, the Ministries were all were under construction. The city was undergoing an extensive rejuvenation, reinterpretation stage of everything that the Romanian people represented, of everything that unified it and that enabled it to survive through time. Architecturally speaking, although I am not quite sure to what extent this is directly related to the totalitarian regime, the emphasis was set on grandeur, monumentality, rigor, as well as on a legible stylistic language, on a certain material that could be used in most circumstances to convey the message. What I mean is that, if we are to recall the 1920s, or even since communism rose to power in Russia (before its ideology could be imported), there is a striking resemblance between the architectural approaches of that time and the way they propagated through time and space. For example, the ‘Seven Sisters’ in Moscow were replicated and reinterpreted across the Easter European territory countless times and in various ways. If we are to consider the architectural evolution from a residential point of view, the 1950s blocks were spectacular structures and I would add human, scale and proportion wise. Let alone the entire Russian avant-garde which brought along a revolutionary way of expressing architecture. There are two different architectural languages which do not bare comparison. The vast garden neighborhood constructions in the 1960s, were meant to turn the city into a comfortable enclave for workers and rejuvenate the city’s population. After the intensive migration from the rural areas towards the urban centers, the intensification led to a decline in quality of living. Mainly, they were aiming to replace the intellectual elite with the illiterate masses which were more easy to maneuver. Nevertheless, these are stories that passed on from generation to generation, which I did not witness.


With regards to the phenomenon of urban screening across the main boulevards, there is a block towards the Palace’s Hall which the regime could not take down and as a result, in order to preserve the visual continuity of the architectural sequence, they hid behind a false layer of façade. Another example is in the Union Boulevard area where the same treatment was applied to a block which was three meters behind the others. LM: What could you tell me about the ‘translation’ technique? MD: The churches were part of a phenomenon which I refer to as ‘spiritual screening’. Following a series of studies I conducted on this topic in particular, I noticed that the phenomenon of ‘screening’ diffuses on various levels. LM: Could you please tell me how would you define ‘urban screening’? MD: ‘Screening’ means the interposition of a façade or an obstacle, or a new image between what already exists and something new. In a way, what happened with the Union Boulevard was the infliction of a surgical cut across the urban tissue which as a result was retracted, pushed back by these ‘screens’. The translation of the churches belongs to the imposition of the new values, which were mainly based on negating the past. It was all about creating a new life-style. That is why I refer to this process as a phenomenon of ‘spiritual screening’. Since the new ideology was rejecting the idea of religion completely, it had to be eradicated. Indeed, it is an achievement that they are still there, but once you shield them away from the daily use of the inhabitants, something changes. Although they haven’t been abandoned (otherwise there would have been a fifty-year gap within the Orthodox Church’s history), they are not fully made use of as before. LM: Where do these vengeance actions against the church stem from? MD: This is mainly due to the fact that they simply have different philosophies. Communism was extremely straight-forward in terms of its aspirations: we are all equals; we are all brothers; it was a ‘my soup is your soup’ kind of approach. Nevertheless, these principles were difficult to implement. Paraphrasing Augustin Ioan - first the manifesto, then the revolution, then the treaty that approves the manifesto, that is preceding what is intending to be applied. And this treaty is supposed to comprise of examples that can support you thesis. In this optic, the Church did not belong to the category of systems meant to embrace to communist ethos. LM: Where else can this screening principle be identified across Bucharest’s map? MD: If we analyze Bucharest’s map, we notice that along its median ring and the rest of the axes leading towards the main areas of the city, the ‘screening’ is obvious. It is important to note that not all of it was implemented during the 1980s, but also at the beginning of the 1960s. There are various types of screening (different to the one noted in the case of the translated churches) which date back to the pre-communist


period such as inns, the historical centre, the river Dambovita…it’s a phenomenon that spread across a multitude of spatiotemporal dimensions. LM: How would you describe Bucharest’s current architectural condition? MD: Well, this is closely related to what Horia Roman Patapievici categorizes as peripheral and central culture. Thus, culture – everything that stands for innovation – is concentrated in the central area an then diffused towards the outskirts, which are ‘eager’ to absorb and implement what they witness. Nevertheless, what reaches them is diluted information. And this could support your statement regarding the city’s restlesness to catch up with the Modern. On a similar note, it’s worth mentioning Franco La Cela’s thesis – Against Architecture – debating architecture’s new status as a commercial image so that it would appeal, or better said, be sold to any user, regardless of his background or professional training. LM: Would you say that, in the case of Bucharest, this architecture is executed to high-quality standards? MD: Most probably, yes. However, I would like to refrain from initiating a critique of these objects since I believe voicing an opinion without a deeper understanding of the actions and thought processes behind these designs is a facile endeavour. I believe that those involved in these projects have a certain professional training and knowledge of the context. As a result, it’s difficult for me to express my opinion on this matter. On the other hand, my critique would orient towards the master plan, lacking cohesion in Bucharest’s interpretation on a holistic level. This type of urban cupuncture can be a beneficial, rewarding technique if it’s applied appropriately. For example, if this approach is applied to an abandoned, the hybrid glass needle can function as a catalyst for local revival. LM: Do you believe these towers should be implanted within a designated area of the city? MD: Firstly, I don’t believe in segregation on an urban level since thus, I would only contradict the very stance elaborated earlier regarding the communist neighbourhoods which promoted a directed, forced trajectory rather that a circular, dispersed movement which would increase diversity. We should understand that this is the role of this tall, glass architecture: they function as poles, activating the space. This is the reason why I believe when discussing urban acupuncture, it should be done in close attunement with the general masterplan. This idea of segregation derives from the American model, centred around notions of downtown and suburbia. I personally don’t believe that this is a dynamic that functions. It’s almost like all the city’s residents live around a sort of ‘phantom city’ which ceases to exist after five o’clock in the afternoon. Additionally, the suburbia can access the downtown after this time only making use of personal transport. I believe a city is not a city unless it’s a continuously flowing magma, an organism that functions and offers the resident all the required comfort and entertainment levels.


A good example of such and acupuncture city is Barcelona. A strong supporter of this approach is Josep Asebillo himself who, along with his practice Barcelona Regional, dealt with most development strategies ever since the early 1990’s: the reinterpretation of the circulation ring which essentially was separating the city from the sea. Asebillo and his team found the road section which allowed for the high-speed traffic to be diffused (as opposed to concentrated on a singular directional stream), while the ‘destination’ and pedestrian traffic were brought together on the city’s level. He proposed various levels of movement, connection and inter-connection, and it worked! The acupuncture of Area 21 with the Acbar Tower worked perfectly. LM: Do you consider the capitalist regime has found its expression within the city, architecturally speaking? MD: The capitalist regime is extremely uncertain as an ideology in itself. Firstly, I believe that we don’t understand very well what it represents and there is no collective gesture towards cohesion, towards a same direction. I am not sure if there are any buildings in Bucharest as representatives of capitalism. Perhaps a good example could be the mall, although, on the other hand the mall compensated for the lack of adequate public spaces. The malls do function in the case of the so-called ‘gated communities’ and all the residential neighbourhoods spreading on the outskirts of the city which are lacking in public transport. These are extremely segregated areas: one can not access such neighbourhoods without security approval. Ironically, they are still considered luxury residential quarters even though there are no side-walks, there is no room to take a dog for a walk or jog. However, I am unsure if this paints the capitalist picture. LM: Can a compromise be reached in this sense? MD: In this sense, perhaps the most appropriate response is provided by the Russian avant-garde movement in the 1920’s along with the large panoply of utopian urban and architectural initiatives. These elements provide a clear response regarding the alternate turn which could have been taken; it’s all about the buildings, the proportions. LM: Do you consider such utopian gestures are necessary in order to evolve? MD: In 2010 I organized a workshop centred around the idea of ‘Urban Scenarios’ from an utopian approach. I believe utopia represents a wake-up call and indicates a direction. I am not sure if appliable, but it does offer alternate solutions which can be reinterpreted and applied on a tangible level. Take for example Simon Ungers’s proposal for the 1996 contest ‘Bucharest 2000’. The competition brief involved the reassessment of the Union Boulevard and House of People area within the existing urban texture it divided. Ungers proposed three pure geometrical structures: a long beam across the axis and a tower marking the Union Square and a frame structure resting upon the House of People. He did not offer any further explanations as to the reasoning supporting this initiative.


What I believe he was trying to achieve, was to dwarf Ceausescu’s mega-structure, by turning it into the slave of the new structure. Walking along the Union Boulevard which reaches around one hundred meters in terms of length, width and elevational flanks which are quite tall, P + 9, P + 10, the House of People, adding the eighteen meter high hill, become as tall as the boulevard width. From a perceptional point of view, the perspective becomes a cube as the House of People becomes level with the flanks. So it is monumental, but not tall enough. Hence the three volumes breaking the axis in key points. Thus, the focus has changed and it is not the House of People that becomes the intruder but the new structures. LM: Do you believe there is an area in Bucharest that functions from a scenographic, ambiental perspective? Would the old city centre area fall into this category? MD: It is a difficult question to answer since the old city centre is not entirely used. What I mean is that yes, the ground floor area does have a nostalgic aura but at the same time, it seems to have also acquired the qualities of a mall. Therefore, the scenography is limited. Another area that I believe works ambientally is the Verona Theatre and the area nearby the Anglican Church which display a certain continuity and mise-en-scene. LM: What are the main flaws the city currently displays? MD: It’s very poorly connected in the sense that there is no transitional network from one site of the city to the other. I am not solely debating the distribution of volumes, but also the hierarchical arrangement of the streets and circulation nodes. Also, the density is quite high in the Northern area while all the social and cultural leisure spaces are located in the South. There is no coherent connective network between there two halves and the city’s administration has yet to formulate a clear resolution with regards to this issue. The residential neighborhoods need public spaces, green areas. I believe that the citizens should be actively involved in this process in order for them to be successful. From my point of view, the architecture trade has acquired an increasingly bureaucratic position rather than fighting to make a real difference in the people’s lives.


Bogdan Ghiu Bodan Ghiu, poet, essay-ist (literature, media, arts, urbanology) and translator (French Theory and French Literature) Bucharest, 10th April 2012 Laura Minca (LM): Mr. Ghiu, I would like to thank you for agreeing to take part in this interview. It is an honour to meet you. Firstly, could you tell me how do you remember Bucharest before and during the radical demolition process imposed on the urban fabric by the communist regime? Bogdan Ghiu (BG): In spite of being born in Bucharest, I spent my childhood in Constanta. My mum took me there when I was one year old because of some political issues. My father has been arrested on political grounds. However, having family in Bucharest, I kept on going back and spending most of my school holidays in Bucharest. Then, at 19, when I started university, I moved here for good, got married, bought a house, and built both personal (made friends) and professional (lirerary and cultural) relationships. LM: Can you please describe the atmosphere back then? BG: Of course I can. We used to live in a house before they’ve given us a notice to move out. The house was on Antim Street- only a small part of it still exists to the day. The literary description of that street can be found in George Calinescu’s Enigma Otiliei (‘Emilia’s Enigma’ -a famous Romanian novel). Antim Street was a small well hidden gem, with gardens and houses belonging to the little gentry spread throughout. They were similar to the ones that can still be found in the Plantelor Mantuloeasa area. However, Antim Street was a very small street. The only area preserved to the day is the one immediately after the Antim Church also a little bit hidden. Oh well, we lived there in ’80-’81; my son was one when we moved out. He was born in March 1980, and so he was a little over one year old when we moved out. By that time, I’d already graduated from University and commuting to work. I remember that I once saw a drawing of a villa that was located on a road that was descending to the Socialism Boulevard – it was actually called 13th September. This is currently the street that begins at the House of People and goes up to the now Marriott Hotel, towards that hill. This is an important historic area that as a result of the new builds has become very flat. I think this is a big problem in Bucharest’s case that doesn’t have a big river to begin with and looks pretty flat by default. This has not always been the case though. On the contrary, they took advantage of that hill’s position and put it down in order to then build the Academy of Economic Sciences and the House of People (Casa Poporului). In old times, that was a battlefield in Bucharest. It was the so-called Spirii Hill. In time, it disappeared. Another thing that I can clearly remember is that from the Uranus area, it was very difficult for the No. 2 Tram to come up. The former Stadium of the Republic where state’s archives were kept has also vanished. They have all gone. All this area was a really picturesque spot on the hill. As I was saying earlier, I was not living exactly there, but not very far from this area. I know this area of Bucharest was extremely populated and extraordinarily diverse. I think that Bucharest sufferes as a result of the mixture of architectural stylesan architectural chaos- used when erecting buildings in Bucharest and this topography –this vertical ramp.


Apart form this, Bucharest lost its old symbols. This Spirii Hill is the place where the Romanians fought against the Turks in 1848. In essence, this is a place of an exceptional historical value that vanished into thin air. If you want to know exactly where the Spirii Hill used to be, think about the little square in which the People’s Cathedral is currently being built. So, it is between that square and the big roundabout in front of the Marriott Hotel. In its turn, the now Marriott Hotel was designated to be the Ministry of External Affairs Headquarters, and next to the Ministry of National Defense- the two most important ministries in the country. Fortunately, this area, although going to a transition period from the construction point of view, has worked out well. I then lived on the now Regina Maria (Queen Mary) Boulevard- former Goerge Cosbuc. This area can be found next to the Cosbuc Roundabout. This also used to be a very renowed spot in Bucharest. Even nowadays the taxi drivers know how to take you to the Cosubc roundabout. It is a fairly big roundabout. I remember living there and going for a wander in Piata Unirii (Unirii’s Square), the area where I am currently living. Piata Unirii had a completely different layout and geometry back then. In fact, it is said that Ceausescu wanted to change both the orientation and the axis of the city. Geographically, the city is mainly North-South orientated and East-West secondarily. Bucharest is, as I call it, a city on a cross, as it was built on cross-shaped roads. This is why, symbolically I want to call my next book ‘A City at Crossroads’ because its history was built on crossing roads. Bucharest’s initial axes are to be found in the Obor area and farther to South Market (Piata Sudului) to the South and East. By violently changing this main axis North-South perpendicularly and in a spot that was not the natural centre of the city, Ceausescu has not only moved the centre, but also moved the intersection point and axis. Piata Unirii did not use to be so square; it used to be much less regulated, just like the rest of Bucharest. Bucharest is not a city that…we are sometimes complaing about that. This is its history, it is very… I will now share with you a hypothesis based on a long-term personal research based on oral history. As it has been well documented, in his paranoia, Ceausescu used to travel extensively in the third world in the 1980s. He travelled quite a lot to Iran- where people say he hid some money and other valuables. Among the nationalistic left, there is information that Ceausescu saw himself as the leader of the third world countries. However, nobody is openly admitting this sensational piece of information. I will come back to this later. Allegedly, Ceausescu wanted to create a third pole that would be neither the West, nor the East (Moscow). Instead, he wanted to build coallitions with Africa – the then third world. Ceausescu did not go to those countries with the aim of being applauded, but because he was trying to become a world leader. From this perspective, he wanted to create a kind of third Monetary Fund between capitalism and communism. In a way, this is what Iran is currenly trying to do. These are all small regional powers that try to develop as well as anarchic rebel powers that fail to obey orders. Romania used to be like that as well. The only difference is that Romania was very small in comparison with these rather large countries. If we think about it, we can understand that Ceausescu was looking at things globally. It is true that there was no similar scale to that of Bucharest’s, because probably these were not meant to be for Romania- or for Romania only for that matter, but for an international centre of representation. Nevertheless, this is a hypothesis that can not be supported with documents it is only based on what I heard. People are also saying that Ceausescu wanted to open an international bank, a kind of Monetary Fund for developing countries that he would then lead.


If that was the case, then his paranoia of having large scale plans would be understandable to a certain extent. We can understand then that Ceausescu wanted Bucharest to be a third Rome so to speak, a centre of the world. So it was not only the case of Bucharest as Romania’s capital, but also Bucharest as an epicentre of power. It would be easier to understand that the leader of a big, powerful country such as China or Iran would dream to achieve such a thing, but not one of a small country as Romania. That shows once again the level of Ceausescu’s paranoia. A small-medium sized European country like Romania could not achieve this; we’re not a sub-continent…whereas Iran on the other hand is a huge country, much bigger than Irak for instance. I’ve never written anything about this hypothesis in spite of taling about it in various public talks. Through this lens, it is easier to understand Ceausescu’s paranoia and thirst of power. Going back to the earlier discussion about Piata Unirii changing its layout- it is true that the square did not have a proper shape. The works for tube had already begun at the time and Ceausescu did a couple of more good things in Bucharest. For instance, he introduced the sewage system under Dambovita, after the floodings in ’70 and 71. Piata Unirii and the 2 metro lines as well as all the extensive works from underneath the square have all been done by Ceausescu. In 1980, after the metro was ready to be used, they started surface works. They could have kept some of the things, it is true. You were talking about Havana earlier and they could have done the same in Bucharest. What they did do in Bucharest was quality, solid, longlasting work under the ground. Over ground though there was the same old layout, with a tram going transversally in a polygon-shaped area. LM: In one of your essays, you wrote: “For anyone, architecture is date, thus being closer to nature than to culture. As a collective existential environment, architecture is produced nature, erected nature, and so much more important from the political point of view. Architecture is politics and is calling for politics”. Is this quote related in any way to the reality between the individual and the communist urbanistic environment?

FG: Of course it does! Putting Bucharest as a capital aside, think about the life in other towns and cities where people spend a lot of time outside the blocks of flats, chatting all the time. I am always saying that my biggest regret is that architects do take responsibility for their works. I challenge them to sign their works. With that in mind, the ones that deserve praise should be praised, the others not. Think about it this way: books, paintings, they all bear the signatures of their authors. Why would that not be the case of houses and other buildings in the surrounding environment? I think the environment should particularly be the one to be attributed to its architects. We’re talking about the famous stylistic matrix to quote Blaga, this is our mytical space and more consideration should be given to it. I’m now referring to the countryside: hills, valleys, mountains etc. everything is natural over there. It is the opposite case in towns and cities. Birthplaces represent the incontrollable matrix. They are what I call “architectural transcendental”. Taking on Kant’s philosophy, the transcendental is represented by the thinking frames that we cannot analyse, but on which we base our thinking, feeling, perception. This is why architecture cannot be compared with any other art.


LM: What happens when the matrix changes? BG: A key-factor in understanding this is when people understand that things are absolutely constructible, deconstructible and at the same time destructible. It is only then that people understand what it was and what can be changed and in what ways. Ceausescu had big plans. He wanted to move the main Railway Station (Gara de Nord) to Obor because he thought its position was too central. I think he would have done that had he been at the beginning of his career. At the time, I was living in Colentina and I remember that at some point, a big silence fell over our block of flats, people stopped from whatever they were doing and gathered around my block of flats. Without knowing what was happening, I went into hiding. I then saw him getting out of the car and using ample gestures. I thought to myself “This is it! He’ll demolish our block of flats as well!” There was a church only a stop away from Obor. That was also included in his demolition plans. In the end, I don’t know what he really wanted. The architects and urbanists of the time were all scared of Ceausescu because he could not see things at scale and hence could not understand that some of his ideas were impractical if not impossible to achieve. You might have heard that architects were making sacle 1:1 models for Ceausescu to see and understand how places would look like. And all buildings were then put on a model. It is said that at some point he saw a green area in Cismigiu Park and took a building from another model and said “Put this building over there” without asking anybody. He did not know anything about Bucharest’s architecture. Apparently, the architects form “Project Bucharest” were glueing and pinning down the buildings to the models in order to prevent Ceausescu to move buildings around as he pleased. If he managed to move things around, nobody could argue with him, regardless of how erratic they were. Urban legends say that he was manipulating 1:1 scale models of wings from the House of People as if they were on a chess table. You can then understand the magnitude of the waste of time and materials. It was impossible for Ceausescu to have an overall understanding of things and places. This is a contradiction in terms if you think about ‘monarchs’ as being visionaries. He could neither see cartographically, nor panoramically. Unfortunately, I lived to see how everything transformed in Bucharest, taken to the intermediary stage, demolished and reduced to nothing. I do not want any other generation to go through the same experience. It is only if you experience this that one truly understands the relativity and fragility of things. It is as if architecture, tectonics and solidity are all like a straw fire-if you allow me to say that when faced with a political gesture and aim. In 1848, when Bucharest was all made of wood burned for a whole week in the big fire. Buchares’s main axes were all built as leaders’ power gestures. Calea Victoriei (Victory Way) was the road to link the Palace- Centre of Power commissioned by Brancoveanu with Mogosoaia Palace. Brancoveanu has thought of this as a better way to get from his residence to the Court- the centre of power. I don’t want to compare things too much because nothing can quite compare with what Ceausescu did. On the other hand, we need to understand that this was the period in which everything was built. For example, better street alignments and widening of boulevards –especially Pache Protopopescu Boulevard that use to be a very small one-occurred at about the same time. Nowadays, civil society has started to be more conscious about these things when the demolition process for piercing through the Uranus area began. Instead of being a kind of motorway around the city, it is a fast road on the right-hand side, all the


way up from Piata Victoriei to the Palace of People, on to the Cathedral. This is exclusively Ceausescu’s project initiated in the 1980s and does not have bike lanes. Nowadays this area is at the core of disputes between politicians and the current mayor of Bucharest wants to build these bike lanes. Why is he doing this one year before the elections? It is debatable. Maybe it is because he wants to reward the people that supported him in his campaign to become a mayor. All these generated big debates and works have come to a halt. Questions emerged about what needed to become patrimony and what not. Churches should be part of the patrimony on the one hand, but industrial workshop can also become part of a country’s patrimony. At the same time, some of the buildings built in communism should have also become part of patrimony. What happened though is that in the spirit of our conservative Romanian intellectuality and use of intelligence, we decided that all had to go, that everything had to be destroyed. Unfortunately, this is what happened and the valuable past is in a long-passed past. But the past is a leeson to be learnt and not necessarily a value in itself. I remember I took a few architects to see a U-shaped block of flats in the IOR area. They wanted to see these big edifices of pure communist architecture. These do not bear any resemblance to the Stalinist ones built in France, or in the 1950s Bucharest in the Bucurestii Noi (Nee Bucharest) area. This was a different period in which architects were building parks and open-air theatres and other similar things. This was the first time that civil society, together with architects started opposing the demolition process. Together, they raised awareness and opposed the demolition of Piata Matache for instance. Due to this pressure, the civil society and architects managed to stop the demolition works in Piata Matache and took the State to Court and won. In spite of the area being classified as patrimony, they somehow managed to de-classify its status and try to remove it. I think that was the first example of public mobilisation and it is due to a new generation of young people. People from my generation were happy enough to give lectures and write books after witnessing all these changes. The younger generation though is much more proactive and does something about these issues. […] A similar thing happened with the parking from the University area that was built on Christian vestiges. That used to be a little church, the first superior school in Romania. Although I am not in favour of an excessive patrimonialisation, I do believe that buildings and places need to be marked. Eventually, I was in favour of covering the vestiges in the civic historic centre. In this way, at least they become archaeology. As an example, they kept the National Bank and buried everything else. There used to be the largest inn in Bucharest: the Mihai Voda Inn. It was even bigger than the Manuc Inn. People are passing by and look at the 40 square metres in which something is being done. We need to create a civic culture. Civic culture is a technical culture in which one needs to understand what other people did. Unfortunately, in Romanian intellectuals’ view, architecture is the last one to be considered to have a character. Our culture is a very logo-centric and literary one. Because of that, a big rupture is produced to the visual side of things. I did not know what the visual artists of the 1980s do […] New buildings need to be buit, but quality buildings. If I was in charge, I would do as many open competitions as possible so as to attract the best ideas meant to add architectural value. In Romania, everything is adapted and adaptable; it is ‘second hand’. Or if they do build, they build after dated plans. I argue for an ambition to do things, at least at Bucharest’s level to create legislation that would enable architects and developers to iniitate projects that not only add monumentality, but also architectural value. With few exceptions, architects do not have the expertise to do things in the public spirit. It is very clear to me that


we need to listen to the experts, but at the same time, expersts need to listen to the public and civil society […] We’re in the middle of a campaign for local elections. Do you think any of the candidates is talking about the city, about Bucharest? The answer is no! It is as if we’d already know what needs to be done. This is also the pattern of the day to day life. In this line of argument, they will probably carry on building intra-urban motorways. […] This is worse than football or politics because everybody believes they know what to do. Whereas in other places, high-tech buildings are being erected, in Romania modernity means buildings as in the 1950s, if not 1920s. The idea of architectural modernity needs to be reshaped. We don’t have case studies to analyse no good practices to llok at […] Are we going to bring the bulldozer in the city? This piercing is absolutely outrageous! History repeats itself and and nobody dares to say anything about it. It is like a tacit consensus. What is worse is that the civil society does not even dare ask a politician or a journalist to ask a different question when he delineates himself from these matters. Just as they can not conceive getting of the care and not parking in front of their house or block of flats- which might as well be the parking at Unirea, they do not get the bigger picture. Ok then. So if power is being asserted, then the modelling of space and the analysis of people and merchandise flows, being able to circulate is an attribute of power, isn’t it? But what kind of power is that in in Romania people are not interested to have a say? It is an economic power in which things are done through stealing and corruption, in which citizens are not interested in economic flows of merchandise. It is absurd to have the critical power perspective in which we are trained to wait to be told what we are allowed to do and what not. Consequently, space is an implicit education; space is dressage. Why then, if this is an attribute of power, especially of power through modernity, a power generated by capitalism and that is interested in the multi-functionality of the space, why is that the case that in Romania power does not intervene as a power attribute? […] There are many problems. Why don’t we have highways, why do the railways go into ruin…? Why do we have a network of roads transporting goods to and from other countries but we don’t have a proper economy? Maybe this is because we are capitalists without capitalism. Just as I was talking about corruption without corruption in the sense that corruption is widespread, yet nobody is found guilty of corruption. We have people beilieving in capitalism, but no capitalism per se. I argue that we can only be critical when we’ve tried to do something else without the state’s help or intervention. Where the adulation of the market is strictly ideological, our leaders have made money from making business with the state, for overpricing goods and services. As long as the only business is with the state only, there is no real market. There is no real market interaction, no real existence of the market. And this is easily seen in the non-economic organisation- hence political of the space. A liberal government aiming at economic and political liberalism would be interested to shape the space for its own economic interests without too much to do with politics. If that was the case, the market would have noticeably worked. Why don’t we want to affirm our power by possessing the time and space and decide to be complacent and leave things as they are?


LM: Do you believe that the capitalist era contributed to the architectural expression of Bucharest? Earlier, I was talking about those small over-suspended buildings erected by the same entrepreneur and architect […] Currently, I have in print a book called ‘De la Petrescu Ville la Arsene City’. Many of these iconic buildings –including Romexpo, Casa Scanteii, those two blocks of flats- the one that burned down and the tall one next to it, the tower that ruined the appearance of the Armenian Church that is now like a shadow, unoccupied and the area next to Sf Iosif. All these buildings have been designed by Petrescu Ville – Anca Petrescu. The central idea is a hyper speculation of the space that can only produce an immense crowding against the natural flows. When this place will be populated with offices how would the tower next to St. Iosif look like? Is there enough space for thousands of people to come to work in the area? How would the parking look like? There is not enough space for everything. It is a counter-economic thinking. The city is now considered the cultural mall. What cultural mall? This reminds me that the centre Bucharest was in danger of being completely transformed too when Videanu was the general mayor of Bucharest. They wanted to integrate and coat the two small squares- the one from Cina and the one from the Athenaeum. LM: What about the communist’s regime reluctance to religion? Why this fear and desire to destroy every spiritual thing? BG: This is an old story that reminds us of the dramtic images of church bells destroyed by the Soviet Union. This is a War of Power! In its turn, communism was a sect that took over and wanted to become a religion. It is not so much the lack of belief in any religion, but a secularisation that took over and wanted to create a new church. Although this time round, this was a civil secularisation, it was still a forced one. The communists have envied the power of Church- especially that of Christianity. As said by Chateaubrilland, the ‘main genius’ is the political one that of having built an empire, conquering a world through forces other than political. In their mission agains Christianity, they have demolished churches or neutralised their appearance by building blocks of flats. The blocks of flats acted as paravans to a small church in the corner of the street. Even though communism has never thought about it in these terms, it was meant to be a religion instead of another religion. The Church was an enviable power and so communism wanted that sense of power and the feeling that no trace of religion would remain. It was meant to be a change of religion. Vladimir Tismaneanu described communism as a sect that wanted itself to be a religion and taking over the enemy through committing a ritualic crime. In that sense, the ‘enemy’ had to be killed, destroyed and its place in the minds and hearts of people taken and replaced with the new religion. Understanding that religion was a very powerful thing for Romanians, communists did not dare to remove the Church completely, but decided to isolate and neutralise it. In a way it was a general hyprocrisy of not doing about things, but doing things against them. We were neither allowed to have crosses on display in the classrooms, nor to be openly religious. Not being a real practising Christian, I did not feel too oppressed by the communist regime in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s. People with important functions in the State though, did not put up a Christmas tree on Christmas, but on New Year’s, etc. Nobody spoke about these things, but everybody did them quietly. The communists demolished churches, but did not dare to destroy the institution of Church. The Church was mistreated, but communism understood that it was too big a power in Romania and that the still rural Romanian people needed it. Even today, the Church is considered the first power in the Romanian State. It is the Church, and not the Army.


Another hypothesis that I am currently working on is that in a way, just like Moskow, Bucharest begins to be referred to in official documents after the fall of Constantinople but at a much smaller scale. It is true that Bucharest existed as a smaltrade town at the time, but the real question is why did it become political? A possible answer may be that it was a refuge for representatives of the Church. In that originates the idea of ‘maidan’- a public space, that of parochies. Dana Harhoi believes this is how Bucharest grew to be such an important place, a small byzantine model. Is this a good enough reason for us to compare against cities lile Paris and Viena then? No! Bucharest’s growing model, its tissue is rather byzantine because this is the era in which it is officially attested. Bucharest is mentioned in an official document emitted by Vlad Tepes in 1453, after the fall of Constantinopole. This is a political centre, a settlement, undergoes a qualitative leap and becomes a city, attested as such a few years after the fall of Constantinopole. The town was filled with churches and shops. Bucharest was surrounded by hills with vineyeards, and so the wine was made in town centre. Apparently, the old court was on a plane field that was subjected to flooding because of its positioning. The current parks used to be muddy lakes. Cismigiu Park was formed by taking out the water from a delta, a refuge place for the thieves and outlaws in which guards were not entering. The same happened with Gradina Icoanei (Icon’s Garden) and Ioanin Park that were set up on on previous badly-famed places. For instance, this was the case of the area called Bucurestioara in which people disposed of their general waste. By transforming this affluent of Dambovita into a park, the bad area disappeared and the new place gave a new outlook to the town […] LM: What happens when the context changes, when the link between place and entity is being manipulated to its extreme? BG: Bucharest is a city of mobility prone to destroy. In a way, Bucharest is a kind of judicial and administrative centre in which people keep on coming. This is why the place has no real memory. In a way, it is normal to renew a capital’s city population. This dynamics occur in all big capitals around the world. However, even at this tectonic level, places and things have been cut off and sectioned. By what is happening to its left, Unirii Boulevard has broken the core of an area. Our existence as inhabitants of Bucharest was in the neighbourhood behind the blocks of flats. Now, this flow has been broken because there are no crossings, no tunnels, and no means of communication. Leaving from this very concrete example, the historic unities built in time will disappear. To the normal population mobility on the horizontal it corresponds a cutting of many major points of reference on the vertical. Moreover, this is not only a city in a seismic area, but these are also earthquakes created by the mankind. The fact that these happen creates symbolic centres. I already feel the renaming of places […] A loss of identity, a city that misses…I believe that it is utopic to link these big transformation processes to modernity. Without utopia architecture is not possible though. Now, it depends in how far utopia is going from the unity and spiritual point of view. The idea of designing a place with the aim of changing it is in itself utopic. Without this, people would never start to draw and emulate architecture on places. Due to the new revolutionising building materials, materials become more sustainable and hidden, so architects can now take over existing buildings and make them more aesthetically pleasing. The design is more modullable, networks, microplans- infiltration rather than transformation and taking over.


Many people are asking themselves if we can talk about an urban environment of built spaces. I say this is the historic city. It is the city that keeps growing until in is uncontrollable. Take Berlin for instance. Berlin used to be the capital of a dream-empire that although has never quite come into existence and still produced two world wars. Paris is another example; it is a more natural evolution of architecture that of creating multiple small vital communitary centres, but not a centre per se. with that in mind, architects need to accept their own mutations. In this way, architecture becomes meta-architecture.


florin serbanescu Romanian Patriarchy Minister Bucharest, 9h April 2012 Laura Minca (LM): Mr. Serbanescu, I would like to thank you for agreeing to take part in this research interview. It is an honour to meet you. To begin with, could you tell me how do you remember Bucharest before and during the radical demolition process imposed by the communist regime? What was the atmosphere like during those tumultuous times? Florin Serbanescu (FS): I grew up in this neighbourhood and I can assure you that the demolitions in the 1980s made it suffer a complete transformation. I spent my childhood in the yard of Alba Postavari Church. This used to be located exactly at the now-centre of the Piata Constitutiei, in front of the Palace of Parliament. The Church was slightly to the left as one looks towards the Palace of Parliament, and the priest’s house (my house) was somewhat to the right of the Palace of Parliament. The existing street goes exactly through what used to be the old church and priest’s house. This neighbourhood has an older history though. I know can not go too much into detail right now, but this neighbourhood developed on a former fabric tradesmen neighbourhood. Centuries and centuries ago, these people used to wash their fabrics in Dambovita. At the time, Dambovita was flowing in a different direction. The new flow is a modern era development. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Dambovita underwent a complex systematization process, the most recent one occurring in Ceausescu’s time. Ceausescu commissioned the underground canal. Old Dambovita used to have quite a sinuous flow. For instance, it used to flow through the now Biserica Sf Spriridon Vechi and Biserica Sfintii Apostoli. And so, it was much more oriented to the right than its current flow. In these circumstances, the church built there was later called Biserica Alba Postavari. This was the church were Mihai Viteazul went to pray to Saint Nicholas’s icon before being taken to be decapitated at Alexandru cel Rau’s orders (Alexander the Mean). The legend that was later used by Nicolae Balcescu in his writings says that following his prayers to Saint Nicholas’s icon, Mihai escaped the execution as the man that was meant to decapitate him said he could not take Mihai Viteazul’s life because he was such a majestic presence. When they wanted to decapitate him again, the public pleaded for Mihai Viteazul’s forgiveness and so he lived. It is said that after this, Mihai kept the promise he made in front of Saint Nicholas’s icon and built a monastery in the nearby. The monastery is called Mihai Voda and unsurprisingly, Saint Nicholas is its spiritual patron. The first stages of the monastery’s construction were completed just before the beginning of Mihai Viteazul’s reign in 1593. Once erected, this monastery played an active role during the reign of Mihai Viteazul that was often accommodated there. The entire neighbourhoold evolved around the monastery and more or less kept its appearance until I got to know the area in the first decades of the twentieth century. This was a very quiet neighbourhood, housing many important buildings. Most of these buildings belonged to the Neo-Romanian architectural style, prominent after the 1900s. Some others were built at the end of the nineteenth century and belonged to the Neo-Classical architectural style. While on the one hand, this area was very important in terms of its erections, it was very quiet as no important streets were crossing it. I remember very clearly that as a child the closest more populated area was at River Dambovita that was crossed by 2 tram lines. I was then wondering if there would ever be a tram going through the area I lived in.


This neighbourhood was at the bottom of the Arsenal Hill- later renamed Spirii Hill or even Mihai Voda Hill. Of note is that many streets had military names. For instance, the street were the the church was located was called Strada Bateriilor and at the end of it was Cazarmii Street, not long before Militari Street. So, all of these were linked to the fact that this hill used to belong to the Army. On the same hill, Traian Vuia, the Romanian inventor in aeronautics has built his plane. Therefore, I spent my childhood in his particularly nice and quiet neighbourhood, with nice houses. However, the whole area changed completely after the earthquake in 1977, when, Ceausescu decided that this was the best place for a erecting a big edifice. Ceausescu was thinking that the place to build a huge, monumental palace would have been the Arsenal Hill, because this was the most seismic-resistant spot in the very seismic-prone Bucharest. Actually, this is one of the very few spots in Bucharest that can be recommended for such a construction. Leaving from here, Ceausescu commissioned the specialists to conceive an ample systematization plan that basically meant demolishing the entire existent neighbourhood. Currently, I can openly admit that apart from the photographs taken prior to the 1977 earthquake, the whole area is only existent in the memories of the people that lived there. Very few of the then neighbourhood escaped demolition; mainly, these were the lateral areas behind the blocks of flats. All this area- the former Victoria Socialismului- the current Unirii Boulevard- was traced through the middle of the neighbourhood. Both the blocks of flats on the left hand side and the ones on the right hand side were demolished after feasibility studies were undertaken. After the 1980s, it was the houses’ turn to be demolished. The church I was telling you at the beginning of the interview, the one in which I grew up, was demolished in March 1984. This was the first church to be demolished after the Enei Church- that was demolished immediately after the 1977 earthquake. Not long after that, the Spirea Veche Church has also been demolished. This was located at the top South-Western corner of the current Palace of Parliament. In the meantime, they resumed with moving the Schitul Maicilor Church frame and demolishing its interiors. The same happened to Mihai Voda Church. From the distance point of view, these two translations were the most ample done in Bucharest. LM: Why were there so many churches in such a small area? FS: There used to be hundreds of churches in Bucharest, as that was tradition. On the left side of Dambovita, there were many more apart from the ones I mentioned earlier. Izvorul Tamaduirii Church was another church that used to be close to the Putucuapa Rece area, one on the way to the Progresul Sports Centre, and another one just behind the former Republicii Stadium. The following three churches have been demolished: Alba Postavari, Izvorul Tamadurii and Spirea Veche, apart from the interiors of the two monasteries that have been translated- the Mihai Voda Monastery and the former Schit al Maicilor that at the moment is in an extremely ingrate position. LM: I heard that it is not correctly orientated‌ FS: Yes, that’s right. Oh well, it was in a bad position, very close to the block of flats next to it. Technically, it seems that the block of flats falls on this completely out of scale building. It is sad to see that the beauty of this church is not being emphasized. And that is because of its actual position.


Mihai Voda Church has also been moved to a place behind some blocks of flats next to the Sapiente Church. The latter has some more space but it is quite hidden as well. One doesn’t know it is there, it needs to be discovered. Other cases if hidden churches are Domnita Balasa or Saint Ioan Piata. These have been translated and bits of them have also been built. In fact, Domnita Balasa Church has not been translated, but it’s been well hidden ever since that big block of flats separating the church from Piata Unirii has been erected. The same happened next to Saint Ioan Piata Church. On this side of Dambovita, there have been massive demolitions in 1984 and the translation of the Alba Postavari Church. On the other side of the city, on the left side of Dambovita, the demolition process began later. Many churches have also fallen in that area as well. It was tradition to have a church for every 20-30-40 houses and so, there was quite a high density of churches in that area as well. Initially, in rural Romania wood churches were built for the population living in villages. There were not too many houses in a village. Anything over 20 houses was considered to form a large village. Many of these neighbourhoods I am talking about here used to be villages located just outside Bucharest. The churches demolished on the left side of Dambovita were the ones on Calea Vacaresti (Vacaresti Way) or just before the Dudesti Area. Among the ones on Calea Vacaresti: Bardu Staicu, Sfanta Treime Dudesti, Olteni Church, Saint Nicolae Jidnita, and Saint Nicolae Sarbi. This was an area terribly affected by the demolitions, not only of churches, but also of houses. Some of the churches have been translated to very bad areas. The people that know how Bucharest looked in the 1980s can confirm that the city looked like as if it had been bombarded. Moreover, whole areas were demolished in order to make way to the new constructions. Then, based on the new systematization plans, the construction of new buildings commenced. The former Victoria Socialismnului Boulevard became Unirii Boulevard and covered the entire area from the current Piata Alba-Iulia to the Palace of Parliament. This also covered the Decebal Boulevard and so this was an ample systematization. The church I am currently priest of – Saint Stelian Lucaci is only a couple of tens of metres away from where they stopped demolishing. Had the communist regime lasted for a little bit longer, it is highly possible that this church would have not been here anymore as the systematization plans included this area as well. LM: Why do you think the communist regime feared the Church? Or was that a case of inhibiting religion through pushing it out of daily life as much as possible? FS: This is an older issue; it is about a clear difference in ideology. That occured because the Church was based on teachings from the Bible, and studying God. At the other end of the continuum we can find the historic dialectic materialism on which communism as a doctrine was based. The communist regime completely opposed the former and believed in evolutionism, the gradual transformation of matter. So, primarily, it was this ideological difference. Secondly, the communist regime has always regarded the Church as a possible refuge of possible political enemies. From this point of view, Patriarch Iustinian was a very providential man, very discreet that using his wisdom offered shelter to great personalities of the time that suffered greatly after the instauration of the communist regime. In this way, these people could still live and work. Patriarch Iustinian tied to save as many of these people as possible. Many political detaineees have been arrested in 1956 in Hungary and in the period 1958-1964 in Romania. Once released, the Romanian Eastern Orthodox Church offered these people shelter and protection and in this way, the opportunity to carry on working […]


LM: Did religion become tabu after the instauration of communism? Were people afraid to go to Church or admit they were religious? FS: There is no doubt that communism has tried to influence spiritual life as much as possible, in different forms and with variable intensities. But just so you know, the fundamental dimension of the history of Church in the post-1948 period was persistence and survival. And I believe this is the most important thing! Regardless of what has been tried by communism, Church continued its existence in spite of what the younger generation might believe. The reality is that of the permanent existence of the Church albeit with the challenges of the era. However, sermons have always been delivered priests could be found when needed, even though a lot of pressure has been put on the Church […] It was essential for the flame of faith to keep on burning in order to be transmitted to the next generation as people in that generation realised that they might not catch the end of the communist regime in their lifetime. Due to the fact that the communist regime in Romania was supported by other counties in the East, there was a strong possibility for it to last for an indefinite period. It was very difficult at the time to believe that communism would come to an end. On the other hand, religious people were living with this responsibility of passing the flame of faith and Jesus Christ’s teachings from the past 2000 years on to the next generation. In that sense, the Church managed to carry on publishing books and studies. In addition, Patriarch Iustinian managed to re-open all the important monasteries and church monuments in Bucharest and surroundings. […]. The most important monasteries were restored in the 1950s. This was a long fight, asking for patience and perseverance and a great deal of diplomacy. All these have been achieved during communism. And so, there was no gap in the Church’s activity. As a metaphor, the Church was like a ship surviving the big storm that was communism until the early 1990s- before it could openly resume its activity. Nicolae Iorga was saying that ‘The Eastern Orthodox Church has always guided the footsteps of Romanian people without them taking their eyes away from the skies’. This was what the Church did for 2000 years and carried on doing during the communist regime. In my view, this journey through the storm on to the 1980s represented continuity and not rupture, and this is an aspect I want to insist on. There might have been many oppressions during communism, but the Church has never ceased its activity […] Of course that the fact that in Bucharest only 20 churches have been demolished, had an impact on the perception of Romania abroad. That was truly a huge edilitary transformation that implied the disappearance of many monuments and churches. On the other hand, new churches, religious monuments and monasteries have also been built in the 45 years of communism- maybe not as many as after 1990. In the country, this was especially challenging, as the priests that tried to build new churches in communism used to be banished for trying to do so. However, these priests were tacitly protected by their superiors. After the 1990 we can talk about another era. The period between 1990- 2000 is called “the decade of a thousand churches” built. There were 1000 new Eastern Orthodox churches then. In 2010, the numbers have almost doubled as by 2006, 1700 new churches have been built. From this point of view, I can add that we are now witnessing an unprecedented period in the intensity with wich religious erections were built. I believe that was the outcome of a real necessity […] Large neighbourhoods built in communism did not have a church anywhere close. Very few churches escaped demolition and these were located in the outskirts of the former villages and communes now areas


of Bucharest. For instance, there was no church in Drumul Taberei. There was one at Razoare -the current area of Titan. The areas from Balta Alba and Titanul had a few little churches on Mihai Bravu Street. In the neighbourhood of Catelu there were a couple of very small churches, but not enough for the population. Therefore, the newly-built churches solved this practical problem of distance and easened the religious people’s access to church. Moreover, if the church is too small, it prevents people from going because it cannot accommodate everybody and so a need for building large churches emerged [‌ - explicatie biserici ortodoxe mari in tara si afara] LM: Going back to the idea of translation, was it difficult for people to remain loyal to a church even though it has been taken out of its roots and moved elsewhere? FS: I have more or less followed all translations. An example is Olari Church. I used to live next to this church and so I have closely followed its translation process. I also witnessed the translation of the Schitul Maicilor Church and those of Mihai Voda and St. Ioan Piata. The latter was translated on a shorter distance than the others. At the time, the possibility to save what could be saved appeared due to an engineer called Eugeniu Iordachescu. While some of the churches were saved, some others could not and so were demolished. Eugeniu Iordachescu came up with this plan to save these churches even though they were located in the vicinity of blocks of flats and so not very convenient. I remember for instance the view of Sfanta Vineri Church (Saint Friday) from Piata Unirii. Or that of Domnita Balasa Church before a block of flats was built in front of it. Before the new construction, this church was perfectly integrated in the open space of Piata Unirii. It would have been beneficial for the aesthetics of the city to maintain the position of the Mircea Voda Church and keep its interiors intact. Unfortunately, this was not possible. There were plans to demolish Mitropolia. They wanted to then move it to Vacaresti with the aim of allegedly saving Vacaresti. However, this was a protected area and its landscape could not be altered. Again, due to the influence and pressure exerted by the Patriarchs Iustin and Teoctist in 1986-1987 when Ceausescu wanted to move the residence of the Romanian Patriarchy, this did not happen. Every time Ceausescu was offering Patriarch Iustin to move Mitropolia to Vacaresti, the patriarch kept quiet as he knew he could not move it from a place with a history of a hundred years to a new area. Consequently, this was a very challenging period for the Church. Unfortunaely, some places had to be sacrificed. For instance, the now Catedrala Mantuirii Neamului is located on an enlarged settlement- former house of five religious buildings, three of which were churches that were demolished. One of these three churches was the church I was telling you about at the beginning of the interview- Alba Postavari Church. This can not be re-built on its initial spot because, as I was saying earlier, this would now be exactly in the centre of the Piata Constitutiei. The same applies to the Spirea Veche Church, in spite of a project of architect Traianescu to do so. Eventually, Traianescu extended this project and used the same architectural tools and language for Cathedral in Timisoara. [‌] there are three churches that disappeared in the area. Added to them, there are two monasteries. Consequently, Catedrala Neamului takes over the flame of faith as emitted by these five spots for hundreds and hundreds of years. LM: Do you think Bucharest is a city that makes you feel proud? Has communism and capitalism made an impact? What is your perception of Bucurestiul now?


FS: There is a possibility of building a civic centre adjacent to old town and in this way to preserve as much as possible of the old town. This would be the wisest thing to do if we were to preserve this city’s beauty and history. However, the outcomes of the 1980s on the city’s fabric only offer the chance to complement the new architecture of the city to what was then built. I was deeply saddened to see the neighbourhood in which I spent my childhood demolished and completely transformed. However, there was nothing I could do about it. Later on, I was very surprised to listen to people’s opinions about the House of People. Even specialists were saying that the House of People should be buried and a cross with the inscription “Monument of Communism” should be put on top. This was a rather absurd idea considering this is an important construction in terms of proportions, its façade and the ways in which this has been thought of and done. Moreover, it was through the enactment of the then Law No. 1 that all Romanian citizens contributed to the construction of the House of People. Furthermore, this building needed to be used and I think the fact it currently houses important state institutions is probably the best use it could have been given. Regardless of what happened in the past, the city needs to go on. The problem is that what happened in that black decade altered the city’s natural fabric by putting new architectural builds in the city centre, not far off the old city centre. The new builds of the so-called ‘architecture of windows’- concrete and glass are strongly constrasting with the ones in the old centre. New massive buildings have pierced the city […] On the other hand, in time, the houses that were built have also had a say in the city’s architecture. For example, the houses built in the 1850-60s belonged to the old Romanian or balcanic style. Some of them can still be found not far from the central area. Most the the houses that survived communism are the ones built at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. The architectural styles used were neo-classic and neo-Romanian. Then, there were the houses built in the period between the two wars. Nowadays, many villas have been erected throughout the city. However, I think that they should have paid more attention when allowing them to be built in the central area […] If we think about the area aroind the initial historic centre- Lipscani and Curtea Veche- Bucharest used to be a balcanic city. The fact that the streets were large enough for that period meant that they were too narrow for generations to come. This was a problem that the mayors confronted with both in Bucharest and in to other towns and cities until the beginning of the twentieth century. For instance, at the end of the nineteenth century, the famous mayor Pache Protopopescu had to find some solutions in order to enable a more relaxed vehicle circulation in central Bucharest. He was the one that commissioned the now Carol I Boulevard to the area where it joined Ferdinand Boulevard. Magheru Boulevard on to the Piata Romana was another avenue opened for traffic at about the same time. During communism, this was called Ana Ipatescu. Carol I Boulevard is now called Pache Protopopescu Boulevard. More recently in communism, in 1960, the so-called North-South Magistral, now called Dimitrie Cantemir Boulevard, has also opened for circulation. All these were the solutions found to some edilitary problems. Before these were constructed though, even more demolitions took place, including the disappearance of old churches that foresaw these massive demolitions in the 1980s. Although we witnessed the disappearance of churches before, this was never as bad as in the 1980s.


If we’re wise enough, we should preserve the personality of the old centre. If you think about it, nowadays everybody is trying to re-create the atmosphere of those times in the historic centre, the perfume of the old cobbled streets, the long-gone ambiance, and the charm of the old buildings. The historic centre is exclusively dedicated to pedestrians that are trying to get a favour of history and tradition. We can compare what is now happening in old Bucharest with the historical centre of Prague. However, Prague has a much larger historic centre that has a peculiar personality and an extraordinary beauty. In contrast with Bucharest, the new builds were erected in the surroundings of the old centre without damaging it in any way. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Bucharest where new buildings have been simply implanted into a nineteenth-twentieth century atmosphere preceding the post-Second World War architecture. This is why, from now on, we should proceed with a lucid mind and heart- in teology we are always talking about transmitting the mind to the soul and the soul to the heart, a communion between what one is thinking and thinking, the wisdom. The best solutions to our problems lie from this very fine balance. From this point of view I believe that we should be more discerning when promoting a certain edilitary development of the city that would definitely impact on the fabric of the city. For example, the current mayors and councillors of Bucharest are dealing with traffic jams caused by an excessive number of contemporary cars. Unfortunately, the new construction works are adding up to this because they are advancing really slowly. Having said that, good things were also achieved- for example both the outer and the inner rings in Bucharest. What is yet to be achieved is a large boulevard linking Piata Victoriei with Podul Hasdeu and Podul Hasdeu to the future Catedrala Mantuirii Neamului and Palatul Parlamentului on to Cismigiu. Therefore, this prospective boulevard would make the traffic more fluid by avoiding a road that goes through Bucharest via the Universitate area [‌] There would be many other edilitary solutions to our day to day problems. I militate for solutions that would cater for our identity expressed at all levels, including architectonically.


STEPHEN HUTCHINGS Professor of Russian Studies, School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures, The University of Manchester Manchester, 29th May 2012 Laura Minca: Firstly, thank you for agreeing to take part in this interview; it is an amazing opportunity for me to learn more about montage. The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution brought along not only a dramatic shift in terms of power but it also inspired a revolution regarding the role of the arts within the new political scene. Could you tell me more about its effects upon the film-making industry? Stephen Hutchings: The film industry was a relatively new phenomenon not only in Russia but across Europe. Having said that, even by 1917, the year of the revolution [2], Russia did have quite a well-developed film industry. It was entirely privately owned and much of it was borrowed for the ideas, the techniques; the financial model was borrowed from Western Europe. And the films were overwhelmingly derived from literary texts, plays, novels, poems, myths and so on. Most famous Russian films before the revolution ended re-adaptations from famous works of literature; they were re-adaptations of Tolstoi’s Anna Karenina and of Turgheniev and also of non-Russian, European writers as well as film versions of great plays. One of the things that happened during the lead-up to the revolution and then in the aftermath was that there was a whole movement right across Russian culture and the avant-garde to start interrogating each art form and try to find out what might be the specificities of each art form. The most perhaps well-known example of that is the movement known as Formalism, Formalism in literature; so really trying to ask questions about what makes literature, literature. What are the inherent and the essential qualities and functions of a literary text that allows you to describe it in a language that is specific to literature rather than subordinating it to social reality, to psychology? So rather than talking about literature in terms of how it represents psychology and social reality what it is that makes a literary work literary? And that principle was applied right across the arts and including film which was a new technology; so a reaction against subordinating film to literature; a complete throwing out of the idea that film should be kind of hand-made to literature and that its task should be putting into visual reality the hiring of literature and theatre and trying to ask what film can do that no other medium can. [...] What is it that film does, and how does it do it that no other medium can do; that music can’t do, that literature can’t do and so a Formalism of film. And the same was true of painting and if you look at what was one of the principles of Suprematism and Constructivism, two big movements within the avantgarde and avant-garde painting in Russia – again they were asking the same questions partly prompted by develops in technology; so once you have a camera, a camera can do everything that a realist paining can do and do it better, copying reality. Why do we need painters if we have cameras that can provide a much more detailed and accurate copy, not even a copy of reality but an imprint of reality itself. It caused a sort of crisis in painting. What is painting for, if it can’t be about copying reality?


And one answer to that was again looking at what painting can do that photography can’t and that literature can’t. What is the essence of colour? What is the essence of paint, of two-dimensional form? And how can we use painting so that we can express the essence of colour, shape, form on canvas in a way that no other art form can? Right across the arts from literature to painting, drama and film too, this drive to discover this essence of the medium. And with film, that of course became intimately bound up with montage, but, the other point that will bring me back to your question – this was a time that coincided also with a revolution in politics and in society. So the creation of a new, completely new society that works on completely different principles, a new reality. The avant-garde was all about trying to tie the revolution in form with the sociopolitical revolution and how those two can be brought together. LM: So it’s more about the fact that they coincided rather than that one determined the other… SH: Yes, they informed one another, they coincided…one can argue that it was by coincidence or one can argue that there were much larger cultural forces responsible for both revolutions. But the trick was to make them one and the same to bring them together and the early post-revolutionary avant-garde in Russia was all about a revolution in form that was, that tended to mount to an equivalent to the revolution in the content of reality. And it was extremely utopian. So the idea is that if we have a new reality, a new social reality, a new political reality, then we need a whole new way of life and a whole new set of forms to go with that reality. Hence the interest of constructivists in design and in architecture. So the constructivist building, the constructivist working man’s club given that this political revolution is led by the working class and you are creating a reality in a country, in a society in which the working class is in control, then you need a reality to match. So a working man’s club fit for the new reality in form and in function. Everyday utensils – how should a teapot differ? What should it look like given that it is now part of a whole new reality? So what was happening in film was rather a small part of what was happening right across the arts which in turn was one small part of what was happening on a much larger socio-cultural scale. So ways of expressing the new reality – for a new reality you make up a whole new set of forms that must differ from the old bourgeois forms that they succeeded. LM: So their principle was that nothing can be recycled, that a tabula rasa needs to be reinforced in order to make way for a new reality… SH: Exactly, yes. This is, you know, what the beginnings of what we know as abstract art were bound up with what was happening in Russia. Why some of the leading proponents of the abstract art linked themselves with the revolution. And you know, the kind of familiar examples that tend to be cited are Malevich’s squares [3]. Most sort of notoriously but white on white – the white square on the white canvas as the perfect embodiment of an attempt to, not only express but to coincide with this new higher-reality. This reality beyond reality. Supreme reality which for the likes of Maleivich was very close to the, or equated with the new higher reality that was communism. And Tatlin’s famous tower – this kind of vortex, which was an attempt to create a new form that in turn expressed a new higher reality, the reality of the third international.


SH: Well, you could say that all modern film can be traced back to 1920’s Russian avant-garde film. They invented modern film as we know it to the point where the techniques and principles that they began to explore and incorporate are now so familiar to us that we don’t notice them, we don’t recognize them as being revolutionary or radical. But at the time they represented a complete break with pre-revolutionary film which was all about copying reality. So many of the first pre-revolutionary films were essentially what you are doing now: putting a camera in front of a play and filming it; or in front of a set of actors who act out a script. And the camera is merely a passive tool of recording: all it does is it sits there and records. What avant-garde Russian film primarily through Eisenstein but also through other film-makers began to do was to make the camera an active tool in not simply reproducing reality but re-creating reality or even creating reality anew. So this is now in keeping with what I said about the revolution in arts and beyond film. And of course for Eisenstein in particular but also for the other film-makers, including Vertov who was another great director of that period, montage is … If you ask that question, what is it? What is unique about film? What is it about the cinematic form that is specific to cinema, and the arts of Eisenstein – it’s montage. That basic unit of the film is the shot. Then montage is about fragmenting reality, deconstructing it, freezing it and then putting it back together in a new cinematic form. And it is montage that is that principle of reassembly, reassembling reality and creating something new from it [4]. LM: Which do you consider is the connection between montage and propaganda? Could we refer to montage as a manipulation tool? SH: Yes. And the likes of Eisenstein would have no qualms about that because what he and others are trying to do is not to distort reality, not to deny it, not to negate it, not to manipulate it in a cynical way but to use existing reality to express and create the real reality, the higher reality, the new reality, the reality of the revolutionary society. Whereas cinema as it used to be and the art forms as they were, were about copying, reproducing, mimicking, and that was now seen as a bourgeois approach in the arts, a discredited bourgeois approach to art. LM: Isn’t it true that Stalin liked the effects of cinema to such an extent that he nationalized film production in 1917? SH: It was actually Lenin who first and he is much quoted – ‘of all the arts, cinema is the most important for us’. Stalin then repeated that later on and it has been repeated all the way down to the present. But yes, Lenin did recognize that cinema is potentially, hugely important to propaganda. Now it has to be said that Lenin himself was a man of a rather conservative taste in the arts. He didn’t have much time for the avant-garde. So when he said that cinema was the most important of the arts, he meant something rather different from what Eisenstein meant. Lenin was very suspicious of the avant-garde; he didn’t have much time for it. He was conservative, he liked his art to be recognizable, and easy, and popular. So when he said that cinema was the most important tool of the arts he meant purely that it can be used as an effective tool of propagating message, of propaganda. LM: Was this also because cinema can appeal and be understood by anybody, even the illiterate people?


SH: Yes, that is right. And this was of course the downfall of Eisenstein and the avant-garde. The films they were making were experimental, exciting, difficult, challenging, bold and very, very sophisticated. And he, like a lot of the other avant-garde, swept up in this huge wave of optimism about the possibilities that working class men and women would be able to understand this art. Not only would they be able to understand it but they themselves would be able to produce it. So this movement was set up under the name of ‘ProletCult’ – proletarian culture – in which artist were meant to play a leading role but which eventually had the purpose of creating a whole culture in which working men in the factories could produce art, art of the highest order. So they saw no contradiction between the sophistication, boldness of the idea that they were exploring and the lack of education, the illiteracy and ignorance of very the people who were made central to that platform. And it wasn’t long before people realised that actually working men and women cannot produce art on that level, on that scale, nor could they even understand it, or do they want to understand it. They want art that is popular and easily accessible, easy to understand and familiar, and yes, conservative. And it was Stalin who recognized that, who really recognized that and then the avant-garde was swept aside by the 1930s that were the years of socialist realism, which was an attempt to create popular culture for a socialist society [6]. Eisenstein of course, survived through, into that era, and his work did change quite a bit as a result. But he never really lost the burning desire to use film in an innovative and creative way. LM: Eisenstein stated “All that is best in the Soviet film has its origins in intolerance.” Could you please elaborate on this comment? SH: I don’t have the context, but I’m not surprised to hear that from Eisenstein. He and other avant-garde artists like him were uncompromising. They recognized that in order to create this new reality, and the forms with it you do need to completely reject what had gone before and be intolerant of any attempt to play safe, any attempt to sentimentally protect and preserve the old. So I mean in poetry you have Mayakovski, a great futurist poet who wrote a poem about throwing Pushkin and Dostoyevsky over the board of the ship of Modernity. So it’s tossing them overboard, no time, no place, no stomach for the old. So it’s intolerant I think in terms of attitudes to what these people were trying to replace. But, you know, intolerant of compromise. This new reality is a radical new reality and any attempt to soften at the edges and compromise, will compromise the reality itself. So there’s an absolute certainty that you’re right and an absolute certainty that there should be no compromise and that the old reality has to be wiped clean completely. LM: Eisenstein is frequently referred to as the “father of the montage” in cinema, a technique which he wrote numerous essays about. Nevertheless, he was part of an outstanding generation of film-makers including Kuleshov, Vertov and Pudovkin. What made his work stand out? Could you compare and contrast it to the style of the other directors? SH: Yes, I mean there is much that they shared but there are differences too, there were arguments between them; probably Vertov represented the major alternative to Eisenstein, although he too was part of the same movement and he shared a belief in the creation of a new reality.


LM: Vertov was interested in the idea of perfecting the man in a way… SH: Yes, he saw the camera almost like a, well, literally as an appendage to the human body [5]. So the he was about perfecting human vision and you know, his most famous, most cited ‘The Man with the Movie Camera’ and the title describes quite accurately what the film is about: it is a man with a movie camera attached to him. And he had this sort of utopian desire that man could see anew, could see the world in a different way and that the camera was the sort of way of perfecting the human vision, whereas Eisenstein was slightly different, he had a more instrumental approach to cinema. For him it really was about using existing reality, not seeing it differently, but taking it and using it as the building blocks of a method that would then convey and give access to a new reality, a higher-reality. So I suppose Vertov was more grounded in the everyday; there was much more of a kind of symbolic underpinning to what Eisenstein was doing, and that comes through in his theory of montage and the way he uses montage: it’s putting together two elements of existing reality that don’t belong together, forcing them together in such a way that they create something that transcends them both and transcends the reality from which they both emanate. So in a way it’s, although he probably wouldn’t agree with this description, he has a much more transcendent, symbolist approach to cinema than does Vertov; he’s trying to break down the boundaries between man and reality and human vision and camera rather than looking through something transcendent. LM: Can you tell me a bit more about these different techniques of montage that Eisenstein developed? SH: Well, yes, Eisenstein considered there were different categories of montage and actually he used the term in a way that for us probably is beyond its political meaning. He talked about montage in its most literal sense: the splicing together of existing elements, shot upon shot in order to convey a new reality. But then he also talked about two other forms of montage using the world in a way that we wouldn’t use it. He talked about ‘inner montage’ which, to cut the long story short, is what the film-makers now, essentially refer to as ‘mise-en-scene’ – within a different shot there are ways of putting things together in a new way and in such way as to debate something that wasn’t there when the elements were in their pre-existing positions. So that’s within a shot. You can rearrange the different elements within a shot in such a way that the whole that they create is something new. Also with inner montage he talked about using time in montage. So montage itself takes place through time: one shot, then another, then another, then another that takes time. So it’s using time to reorganize space. But within a shot you can also use time because you can superimpose a shot from one time with a shot from another and you’ve got these super-impositions and Battleship Potemkin contains at least one example of the superimposition. For Eisenstein that was montage, it was just montage in a different form; it was montage within a shot and using time rather than space. And then finally there was ‘vertical montage’. You see Eisenstein although he worked in a time before sound came into cinema, his films were all silent. He, you know, there were musical accompaniments to his films and he did foresee, he saw that film is a syncretic form that combines, can combine, image with sound and that there ought to be ways of using the technique, the principle of montage to juxtapose and combine a particular image with a particular sound vertically, you see, so there’s the image track and the music track, if you think of it like that, and at every


point not only are there visual montage effects but there are vertical montage effects. He did get through the sound era but even before that he was recognizing that film was a syncretic form and that distinguishes him from some of the other avant-garde film-makers who didn’t want to recognize that sound because for them cinema stopped being cinema if it imported sound. Sound is not visual, sound is already a dilution of the essence o cinema but, Eisenstein didn’t see it that way. LM: Was the Kuleshov effect before Eisenstein? SH: I think probably it’s one of those questions where there’s no right answer to: who did what first? In a sense it’s not a question that one needs to answer. What is the case is that there is this group of filmmakers who were talking about, arguing about the same things at the same time; experimenting in similar ways and yes, learning from one another but also criticizing one another and the question of who did what first in a sense becomes a bit…[…]In a sense it’s part of a movement; there were an awful lot of things, similar things happening at once and who did what first is…what is the case is that yes, the superimposition technique that has become known as the Kuleshov effect was being used by Eisenstein too. LM: Why did Stalin suppress the Soviet montage cinema in the 1930s? Which were the main ideological contradictions between the ‘Formalism in Arts’ and the ‘Socialist Realism’? SH: Well, I suppose he suppressed it for two reasons: one was that the pragmatic man in him saw that it was not working, it was not doing what it was meant to do, it was not providing a new culture for the new working class. It was rejected by the working class. Very few people were going to see Eisenstein’s films, so he saw it as a failure, he saw it as something that wasn’t providing the basis for a popular, socialist art, but he also rejected it because he saw it as dangerous and as a threat to his position and to his ideology. So it was utopian and as bound up with a kind of Trotskyite approach to the revolution; that was something he was fighting against. He was in a struggle for power and artists who claim that they are leading the way by creating this new reality and they have a place alongside the politicians is an artist too many to Stalin. Because it represents a challenge. So it’s for those two reasons that the avant-garde was stopped from its tracks as being unsuccessful, unrealistic and a threat and that was justified by Stalin as ideologically unsound, ideologically indulgent, self-indulgent. Socialist realism was completely different. It was conservative in its form, it wanted borrow the best achievements from the pre-revolutionary realist painting so it was based on the idea of copying. It was required to be popular so therefore easily accessible. It was required to subordinate itself to ideology rather to actually co-creating the ideology and it was supposed to…The principle of socialist realism is that it represents reality in its revolutionary development so it had a kind of romantic utopianism about it: you take reality, you copy it, but you touch it up in such a way that it represents a better tomorrow, creating the tomorrow in the today; it was a combination if you like, in crude terms, it was a combination of realism and romanticism, subordinated to an ideological project. So it completely rejected all the principles upon which the avant-garde was based [6].


LM: Kuleschov himself felt that the practice of montage had its precedents in literature. He stated that writers such as Tolstoy and Pushkin had been using a form of montage without even knowing it. Is montage a technique that can be applied or is applied on a subconscious, almost instinctual level by other disciplines? SH: I think that’s right and I think it was not just Kuleshov who recognized that, Eisenstein did too. I you look, if you read, and there’s a bit of a paradox here, a contradiction, if you read Eisenstein’s essays on montage, when he’s trying to describe it and explain what it is, because it’s something new, he has to fall back on something already existing – and what does he fall back on? He falls back on poetry, Pushkin’s poetry. So the examples he uses are metaphors: so what is a metaphor? What is a literary metaphor? A literary metaphor is when you take two existing elements of reality that don’t belong together, you put them together and from that you create something new, a new meaning. Isn’t that a perfect description of what a literary metaphor does? And yet it was supposed to be the explanation for what is unique, and different, and novel and revolutionary about montage with cinema. So, yes, you can find examples of montage in literature, you can find it in rhetoric as well. I think you could probably find it in visual arts and architecture too, yes. I suppose if you take one architectural style and another and hybridize them and create something new, you can argue this is a form of montage. So the term becomes very, very loose and all-encompassing. LM: Have their manifestoes mutated in any way with the ideological shift brought by capitalism from ‘the masses’ to ‘the individual’? The word “montage”, holds an industrial connotation as a reference to the French ‘chaine de montage’, which essentially means “assembly line”. Similar to the way a product is put together and assembled on the assembly line, so is film compiled from smaller pieces to convey a certain meaning. Has this metaphorical link between the process of industrial production and film as the central thesis of these soviet film-makers survived? SH: Well, you have to remember that the Soviets were themselves interested in Ford and in production assembly lines [7]. There was a cult of the machine; there was a cult of automated production. So you find that in Mayakovski’s poetry for example. He talks about 150 million people using poems onto a factory basis. Bolshevism was, in way, although it may seem paradoxical to say this, it was the last gasp of modernism. So modernism, was a movement that embraced art and technology as well so industrial production and industrialization of artistic production are the same thing, are all part of the same phenomenon. Modernity itself and the idea of progress, coming from the Enlightment that man can perfect himself through inexorable progress and can subordinate the world to him in an inevitable path to a perfect society; this unbending faith in progress. That produced capitalism, large-scale industrial capitalism from which we are now suffering the consequences, mentally and economically, but it also produced socialism and communism as another allied way of using the idea of progress to bring about the perfect society based on the faith of using the world, the material world around us one can build a perfect society. So one has to get used to the idea of seeing communism and industrial capitalism not as polar opposites but as, you know, part of the same broader movement, you know, which would give the name modernity; and which we are now, only now, in the 21st century moving beyond. So there’s no contradiction in seeing a link between what Eisenstein was doing and montage, and that assembly line; in principle he glorified the machine and of course Vertov, too, glorified the machine and the movie camera, the glorification of the industrial production that, reached its zenith in the Western capitalism.


LM: Which are elements of the Marxist-Leninist discourse that surface from Eisenstein’s and Vertov’s films? SH: Well, the central place of work and the working class and also the rejection of the sense and the conviction, a rejection of the bourgeois culture and form. LM: How does the legacy of the mentioned film-making pioneers manifest itself in the post-soviet culture with the disappearance of the Soviet Union from the world map in 1991? SH: Well, I mean there’s a general answer to the question and a more specific one. The general answer is that montage is being incorporated into cinema world-wide. So you see examples of what in Eisenstein’s work could be considered a very, very dramatic and revolutionary use of cinema which for us now is part of the every-day language of cinema and that’s true of post-soviet cinematography as it is of early soviet cinema. There is one, more interesting, specific answer to the question which is that before we got to the post-soviet period there was in late soviet cinema a revolt against Eisenstein, an attempt to, not just critique, but to completely reject the principle of montage. And to suggest that Eisenstein got it wrong. And if you’re asking about the essence of cinema then montage is the wrong answer. It’s the wrong answer cinematically, it’s the wrong answer ideologically as well so… you have the attempt of Tarkovsy in cinema [8] where the idea is that you do not only reject the idea of cutting and splicing but you push towards a cinema that is completely free of editing and montage – editing is manipulation, editing is lying, it’s a whole deceit. What cinema must do is to create a new form, a new meaning, but through the long take. Through extending the shot to the point where it can do without manipulation. So if you watch one of Tarkovski’s films and what characterizes them is the use of the long take, of the shot that continues and continues and continues from one minute, two minutes, three minutes, four minutes, five minutes and only then breaks. Now Tarkovski never made a film without a single edit. There was a movement in post-soviet cinema that has sort of followed that up particularly in the works of Sakura. And he has made a film in which there is not a single edit. There is a 90 minute film without a single edit. One, long, 90 minute take. So there was a group of post-soviet film-makers that rejected Eisenstein what he stood for, his connection to the revolution, his approach to cinema and to try to get to the question what is cinema, what can it do, in a completely different way. A different language of cinema – using cinema the way the cinema brings space and time together in a unique way. The cult of the moment, of trying to bring the viewer’s experience and viewer’s time and trying to align viewer’s time with the film, real-time so that you see and experience what you see on the screen in the same temporal plane as the temporal plane in which it’s shot. Which is why you get this sort of cult of the long tape. When you are experiencing second by second same reality as the reality that the film-maker experiences. LM: This makes me wonder if I have chosen the right approach in rearranging the elevational montage as per a defined set of rules and principles. Maybe I can initiate a pattern that can be taken over by the city which can rearrange, reconfigure itself, without a regular external intervention. SH: Well, Eisenstein’s answer would be yes, but Tarkovski’s answer would be no.


APPENDIX B: comparative essay (SUBMITTED: 14th JUNE 2012)

bernard tschumi: architecture and disjunction rem koolhaas: delirious new york

INTRODUCTION The aim of this essay is to compare two intricate yet exquisite books, by two remarkable authors. These are ‘Delirious New York – A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan’ by Rem Koolhaas and ‘Architecture and Disjunction’ by Bernard Tschumi. Both Rem Koolhas and Bernard Tschumi are the pioneering minds behind some of the most striking, radical theoretical advancements of the current architectural and urban condition. They belong to a ground-breaking generation of prominent architects. By tracing their stream of thought throughout history and analysing the key concepts and strategies underlying their work, I intend to identify the common denominators which surface through their ideologies, leading towards a similar conclusion: the rejection of architecture as a form of authority, of institutionalization and confinement to traditional dogmas by aspiring towards social liberation as a result of the celebration of deconstruction as an ordering system in itself. In the forthcoming lines, I draw a series of parallels between the ideologies of these celebrated avant-garde theorists by bringing to the fore two of their most acclaimed oeuvres: ‘Delirious New York – A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan’ and ‘Architecture and Disjunction’. The similarities unveiled by the biographies of Koolhaas and Tschumi are nothing short of remarkable: both born in 1944, they witnessed the ideological turmoil unleashed during the May ‘68 uprising in Paris. Moreover, they were both part of the academic realm at the Architectural Association in London at the beginning of the seventies where they found inspiration and support for their speculations. Their theoretical intuition joined paths again when they both discovered the potential of New York as the ideal candidate for intellectual debate. New York proved to be the supreme testing ground that provided them with the right level of abstraction as an essential factor in the conceptual implementation of their investigative projects.


Another notable similarity lies within their fascination with film: while Koolhaas graduated from the Netherlands Film and Television Academy in Amsterdam, Tschumi started testing the connection between literary theory, cinematic dialectic and architecture within the pedagogical context of the AA. Film was part of a technological wave of innovation at the advent of the 20th century which altered the perception of space in an irreversible manner, providing architects such as Tschumi and Koolhaas with the dimensional complexity required to sustain their philosophies. Most importantly, Koolhaas and Tschumi share an interest which looks beyond the skeleton of the city: their reflections zoom in on the social and cultural performances, on the symbolic systems which infuse the otherwise cold urban mass with metaphors and meaning. OVER ARCHING PRINCIPLES Before moving on to the discussion and comparison of the two books, it is of utmost importance to understand the social and political context that carved Koolhaas and Tschumi’s ideological stances as young intellectuals. The ’68 Paris rebellions provided the stepping-stone for the upsurge of the Situationist movement. This was established in 1957 and militated for a proletarian revolution against the commodification and banalization of everyday life as result of the capitalist contamination. ‘The Situs’ believed in the priority of life, of real live activity which constantly experiments with its own limits and readapts itself to the society’s needs as opposed to the recurrent, rigid and outdated Marxist ideologies. The main tactics of the Situationist movement was to attack and destabilize order through the infiltration of dis-order, of non-sense through strategies they referred to as ‘détournement’ and ‘dérive’ as a means of experience and self-discovery, of release from the ties of conventionality and consumerist routine [1]. Another notable similarity lies within their fascination with film: while Koolhaas graduated from the Netherlands Film and Television Academy in Amsterdam, Tschumi started testing the connection between literary theory, cinematic dialectic and architecture within the pedagogical context of the AA. Film was part of a technological wave of innovation at the advent of the 20th century which altered the perception of space in an irreversible manner, providing architects such as Tschumi and Koolhaas with the dimensional complexity required to sustain their philosophies. Most importantly, Koolhaas and Tschumi share an interest which looks beyond the skeleton of the city: their reflections zoom in on the social and cultural performances, on the symbolic systems which infuse the otherwise cold urban mass with metaphors and meaning. It is not difficult to identify the key-recurrent elements of the Situationist credo that propagated through both Tschumi and Koolhaas’s theoretical works. heir artistic credo was primarily based on rejecting the architectural constraints imposed on society by focusing on providing the backdrop for unprogrammed events. If architectural ordering is essentially confinement, inhibition of the unplanned situation, then social liberation can only be achieved through negation, decomposition of the ordering system and the celebration of the random, the unbounded and undefined.


I can almost postulate that the principle applied is that of ‘divide et impera’ (Latin), of dematerializing, decomposing the whole and activating the program in order to achieve freedom and unplanned dynamism, innovation and discovery as a reaction against architectural convention and control. As Tschumi states in ‘Architecture and Disjunction’, everything can be reduced to the idea of producing ‘architecture against itself’ or what Koolhaas terms as ‘post-architectural modernity’[2]. In sum, both Tschumi and Koolhaas are rather concerned with the design of events, of spontaneity and mobility than built composition. I will now briefly present the two books before resuming with the comparison. ‘Delirious New York – A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan’ is a captivating read. It explores Manhattan’s evolutionary stages in terms of its architectural and urban condition as a never-ending urban experiment that nurtured the rush of its prolific heights in terms of reputation and massing. At a time when Manhattan’s self-esteem hits rock bottom following a period of financial decline, Koolhaas initiatees a series of paradoxes by advertising it to the world as a prototype of modernity, ingeniously celebrating the city’s sinuous development through ideological contradiction: ‘Only through the speculative reconstruction of a perfect Manhattan can its monumental successes and failures be read.’ [3] If Koolhaas goes from real - as the formulation of his manifesto comes forth by drawing upon a series of carefully selected episodes in New York’s history – to the ideal – a fictional appendix of six projects – Tschumi shifts the components of the equation in his book and evolves from abstraction – a collection of essays from 1975 to 1990 – to implementation – Parc de la Vilette, Paris. In ‘Architecture and Disjunction’ Tschumi’s manifesto revolves around the idea that the relationship between architectural form and the event populating, intruding it is by no means of a fixed, determined nature: ‘there is no architecture without program, without action, without event’[4]. His collection of essays opposes the architectural discourse predominantly concerned with form, unravelling that this sort of metaphorical bondage, this injection of a random choreography within the puritanical, controlled boundaries of architecture creates the pleasure of experiencing a space.

COMPARISON AND DISCUSSION A key aspect that surfaces from both books is the architects’ reactions towards what at a first glance might be dismissed as hindrances or paradoxes that underlie the city’s organism. It is precisely these shortcircuits within the wider network of the city, the collision of these high-voltage, polarized nodes that will temporarily fracture the structure of the metropolis, providing endless opportunities for reconstruction and rebirth.


1. ‘flaw as virtue’ Koolhaas’s book is a blueprint for Manhattan’s liberation from the stigmata of a city overridden by ‘the culture of congestion’[5] which is reinterpreted by the author as a remedy, the elixir that will endlessly nurture its hubris for eternal youth. As mentioned in the previous essay, any attempt to order its chaos is futile. And that because the remarkable thing about New York is precisely its latent, primitive predisposition to systematically devour its past in the name of posterity, of evolution. Similarly, Tschumi’s stance is closely attuned to Koolhaas’s interpretation. Tschumi moves away from a pejorative, derogatory discourse and interprets these ruptures, these disjunctions as an opportunity for architectural revival and liberation, acknowledging their purgative potential. The simplistic ‘form follows function’ doctrine is quickly dismissed by the author whose writings intend to primarily focus on the disjunctive ‘cause and effect relationship between form, use and social values’[6] within the contemporary urban society. Thus the condition of New York is deemed by both Koolhaas and Tschumi as a legitimate urban form whose apparent chaotic nature conceals a sequence of self-regenerative internal orders. In short, consensus is reached. 2. ‘labyrinth/ pyramid - globe/needle’ The quintessential argument behind Tscumi’s interpretation of disjunction is the ‘Architectural Paradox’ which he formulates in the beginning of the book: ‘the impossibility of questioning the nature of space and at the same time experiencing a spatial praxis’[7]. In order to portray his argument and amplify the dimensions of the disjunction between the real, conceived space and the ideal, perceived space as two entities which cannot operate simultaneously, Tschumi borrows the metaphor of the Pyramid-Labyrinth synergy. Through its very nature, the Labyrinth cannot be perceived in its entirety, but only as a subjective, sequential unfolding ‘composed uniquely of openings, where one never knows whether they open to the inside or the outside, whether they are leaving or entering’[8]. The anxiety provoked by the entrapment within the Labyrinth prompted the creation of the Pyramid which could overlook the Labyrinth and map the right path towards the exit. Nevertheless, ‘the Labyrinth cannot be dominated. […] The Labyrinth is such that it entertains dreams that include the dream of the Pyramid.’[9] Tschumi’s metaphor bears a striking connection to Koolhaas’s ‘antithetical, yet complementary NeedleGlobe tandem as an expression of Manhattan’s first volumetric experimentations’[10] - The Crystal Palace and Latting Observatory - referred to by Koolhaas as ‘an archetypal contrast that will appear and re-appear throughout Manhattan’s ever-new reincarnations’[11]. By extension, the Labyrinth is the grid and the Pyramid is the skyscraper. As Koolhaas (1978) explains, the role of the Needle was to instil a sense geographical self-consciousness within the island’s inhabitants. In addition, the aim was to provide Manhattan with an extra, much-needed means of escape: ‘mass ascension’[12].


The subsequent evolution of the skyscraper and its rapid spread across the grid as a ‘forest of needles’[13] only suggest the anxiety underlying New York’s residents subconscious desire to take over the grid as an Icarian formalization for their need to escape. Nevertheless, the apparent success of this two-dimensional discipline in taming a primitive plan by imposing its utilitarian aims, will eventually fail on a three-dimensional level, reinforcing Tschumi’s argument that the real and the ideal cannot survive in each other’s presence. The paradox is yet to be solved. 3. ‘pleasure vs. transgression’ The Crystal Palace and Latting Observatory (both located in New York) are categorized by Koolhaas as Manhattan’s initial responses to the insatiable need for innovation as spectacle[14], for subconscious release through the rejection of reality. Once begun, these will continue to be explored through the constant reinvention of Coney Island as ‘the finish line for a weekly exodus’[15] of middle class families longing a peaceful and picturesque weekend. As Manhattan evolves from a city to a metropolis, the need for pleasure becomes imperative and Tschumi’s book provides a thorough exploration of the relationship between architecture, pleasure and transgression as means of counteracting architecture’s lack to satisfy spatial exploration. Transgression is rarely debated in architecture. This is a result of the puritanical approach of architectural theories that choose to ignore society’s ‘secretly delights in crime, excess and violated prohibitions of all sorts’[16]. Nevertheless, the transgression that Tschumi proposes looks beyond the traditional borders of what is usually observed when introducing new articulations taking it past the outlines society expected by the society. ‘Architecture seems to survive where it negates itself, […] where it transcends its paradoxical nature by negating the form that society expects it to be.’ [17] In an attempt to explore the speculative nature of the formulated paradox in relation to eroticism, limits and transgression and their direct relation to architecture in particular, Tschumi draws on Bataille’s work on eroticism (1929) closely connected to theories of death, violence and excess[18]. For Bataille, there is a causal-effect relationship between the rational world and the irrational taboos that nurture man’s intrinsic urge to escape from the dominating dispositions of society. The violations of prohibitions bears invigorating properties, which determine man unleash his erotic drive, breaking the boundaries between intimacy and public display. Thus the condition of New York is deemed by both Koolhaas and Tschumi as a legitimate urban form whose apparent chaotic nature conceals a sequence of self-regenerative internal orders. In short, consensus is reached. An interesting aspect of the relationship between taboo and transgression that Bataille touches upon is that, similarly to the principles of pleasure and reality, they bear an economic function. He writes ‘Taboos are there to make work possible; work is productive; during the profane period allotted to work consumption is reduced to the minimum consistent with continued production.


Sacred days though are feast days.’[19] Consequently, transgression is, in fact, a contained form of liberation, of provisional escape. Weekends, carnivals, celebrations and holidays are therefore a form of transgression, of rioting against the rules which shape our existence. [20] In Koolhaas’s view, Coney Island becomes the epitome of release and inhibition of the rational through the irrational. The Artificial takes centre-stage as an attempt to neutralize the histrionic extravagance of the metropolis through a series of bizarre and flamboyant stage acts while feeding the metropolitan mind with a form of temporary amnesia which suppresses the memory of the production routine. Coney Island pre-empts the process of self-ingestion as the future leitmotif for Manhattan’s cyclical rebirth by developing a set of parallel worlds, each more exuberant than its precursor. As Steeplechase, Luna and Dreamland come into being, ‘Coney needs to keep feeding its visitors their weekly dose of super-natural by introducing a series of outlandish scenarios and mechanisms’.[21] These will later shape Manhattan programmatic eccentricities. ‘Excess’ becomes the leading word. Tschumi’s states: ‘Architecture is the ultimate erotic act. Carry it to excess and it will reveal both the traces of reason and the sensual experience of space. Simultaneously.’[22] As Coney’s subterfuge artifices are misted to the ground, the cycle of life is complete: after creation, evolution and extinction comes rebirth. Always rebirth, the frenzy of reincarnation, as an expression of Manhattan’s haunting fears of stillness and then reminiscence. Violence and transgression are concepts that Tschumi brings forward in the cited book with the aim of criticizing and unveiling the deep and subconscious qualms of the Manhattanist dialectic: the dread of death and most importantly the repulsion of decomposing, decaying organisms and the passing of time: ‘putrefying buildings were seen as unacceptable but white, dry ruins afforded decency and respectability’[23]. Not surprisingly, this fear translates into the city’s materiality: the steel frames and glazed tiles employed in the construction of the skyscrapers reinforce the need to use materials that do not reveal the traces of time. At one point in his discourse, Koolhaas discloses a sort of a nostalgic architectural reverie, a resignation facing an exhausted, almost dead metropolis whose veins are only pumping the memory of lost ambitions: ‘New York is a city that will be replaced by another city’[24]. Tschumi’s ‘Architectural Paradox’ finds its resolution in the exploration of the concept of tanathos (in translation from Greek – ‘death’), as architecture springs at the ‘rotting point’[25] between life and death. According to Tschumi, it is at this proscribed meeting place where the contradiction between concept and experience that taboos and culture have previously rejected resolves itself.


4. ‘program’ A key aspect that defines both Koolhaas’s and Tschumi’s architectural theories is the inexorable questioning of the concept of ‘program’. This term was first debated in ‘Delirious New York’ in Koolhaas’s analysis of the skyscraper as an expression of the aspirations underlying the collective subconscious according to which ‘any given site can now be multiplied ad infinitum’[26]. Each of these artificial sites is defined independently from all the other, treated as a virgin territory with its own destiny that can accommodate any desired activity. The Skyscraper promotes unity in form but fracture in meaning, in programmatic cohesion, becoming a ‘stack of individual privacies’[27] shaping the phenomenon that Koolhaas terms as ‘Architectural Lobotomy’[28]. It is precisely this disjunction between the container and the contained that infuses the city’s organism with the ideal dosage of paradox, enabling it to establish its inner agenda of mutations. In addition, Koolhaas finds ‘program’ equally important in the implementation of his design strategies. Nevertheless, this is in terms of the intensification and concentration of the program independent of form. This comes in stark opposition with the segregation of uses that Tschumi advances through his theories and projects such as ‘The Manhattan Transcripts’(1976-1981)[29], Le Fresnoy, National Studio for Contemporary Arts(1992)[30] or ‘Do-it-yourself City’ (1970) in collaboration with Fernando Montes [31]. In ‘Architecture and Disjunction’, Tschumi takes a different path into the analysis of the space-event duo by delving even deeper into the relationship between architecture and transgression. For Tschumi, violence is not only a form of brutality. It is an expression of the intensity of the corporeal movement through space as an intrusion, an invasion disturbing the perfectly controlled order of the architectural space, a collision of two contrasting substances which dissolve into one another[32]. Nevertheless, the power shift can inverse and violence can be regarded as a reciprocal act: spaces too can impose aggression and trigger anxieties, pushing the bearable limits of the body to the territory of pleasure. The architect has always aspired to cleanse the space contaminated with violence by appealing to elements of formalism meant to re-establish a temporary coherence: ’channelling obedient bodies along predictable paths and occasionally along ramps that provide striking vistas, ritualizing the transgression of bodies through space.’ [33] According to Tschumi, the symmetry of the relationship between space and event can translate either into reciprocity or conflict. Given the programmatic dynamism within the contemporary society resulting from the hiatus between shell and content, the collision between space and use becomes an endless generator of uncertainties. The disjunction between event and architecture is a topic that fascinated both Koolhaas and Tschumi as a direct reaction to de-emphasise built composition in favour of mobility. They do that by systematically interrogating the role of the program. In an attempt to disrupt the dogmatic purity of the architectural form, Tschumi developed a series of programmatic extensions including cross-programming, transprogramming and disprogramming as techniques which can be recognized throughout both Tschumi’s[34] and Koolhaas’s designs [35]. The intertwining of these operations allows for endless opportunities of combination and permutations that associate any given space with a series of alien activities, training architecture’s inhabitants in new ways of spatial praxis and ultimately, experience.


In his analysis of the role of program, Tschumi revisits the idea of shock, as a vital tool to break away from architecture as an expression of comfort and shelter in its traditionalist sense and challenge the habitual routines of everyday life through design strategies such as symbolic systems of escapism and shock. Once again Tschumi makes reference to the American metropolis as an ideal host for subterfuge and discordance: ‘Cities like New York, despite - or maybe because of - its homeless and two thousand murders a year become the post-industrial equivalent of Georg Simmel’s preindustrial Grosstadt that so fascinated and horrified Benjamin. Architecture in the megalopolis may be more about finding unfamiliar solutions to problems than about the quieting, comforting solutions of the establishment community.’[36] The symbolic system of shock that Tschumi introduces is meant to test the program’s ability to estimate architecture’s potential as an apparatus capable of social organization. Consequently, it is where any hierarchical organization between form and function ceases to exist that unusual permutations arise, challenging both the event and the space. In a first direct reference to Koolhaas’s Delirious New York, Tschumi brings to the fore the surreal programmatic qualities of the Downtown Athletic Club as one of the primary examples of Manhattan’s liberative potentials: ‘Eating oysters with boxing gloves, naked, on the nth floor.’ [37] If architecture stands at the confluence point between concept and experience, space and use, structure and envelope as superficial image, then architecture should militate for the coagulation of these categories into unique combinations of programs and spaces. Although Tschumi and Koolhaas have never collaborated on commissioned designs, both of them were invited to discuss their common interests and distinct strategies as part of an event organized by the department architecture of the ETH Zurich in May, 2011.[38] 5. ‘the city of the captive globe’ – ‘parc de la vilette’ The final chapters in each of the books can be termed as straight-forward expressions of the architects’ necessity to conceptualize the conclusions of their manifestoes through design propositions. In Koolhaas’s case, the ‘Fictional Conclusion’ is a speculative, surreal tribute to the manias of the city. ‘The City of the Captive Globe’ focuses on New York’s urban fabric as an incubator of functions and desires paradoxically supported by the grid’s uniformity as one of the city’s overriding characteristics. Each block is a rendering of Koolhaas’s intuitive concentration of Manhattan’s spirit as each design is aimed to embody a different philosophy while urban heterogeneity is celebrated as a whole. The riotous conflict of various architectural styles argues that New York is not defined by uniformity but by a disorganized, random clash of elements reflective of ‘change’ as the essence of the metropolitan culture in a perpetual state of animation. Through the disjunction ‘lobotomy’ – ‘vertical schism’ each ‘island’ dedicates its exterior to formalism and its interior to functionalism [39], creating a metropolis where the apparently static monoliths celebrate the unexpected, destroying and reconstructing reality while at the same time stimulating mobility and transfer.


Tschumi lies at the other end of the spectrum stands. His much acclaimed, controversial theories were brought to the fore/into being through Parc de la Vilette, a commissioned work regarded as a breakthrough in both architecture and cultural politics. Tschumi was finally ready to show that a complex architectural ordering is possible without the aid of traditional means such as: composition, hierarchy, order or balance. According to his ideological stance, it is not the friction between these contradictory fragments that matters, but the movement activating them, the inner choreography of the in-between spaces as an expression of the Situationist ‘dérive’. Through the dismantling of the brief into three basic principles: movement, meeting points and events and their formalization as randomly juxtaposed lines, points and surfaces, Tschumi aimed not only to encourage triggering architectural events, but, most importantly, aimless, random wandering as a form of spatial exploration. As opposed to the nostalgic attempts to restore impossible continuities of streets and plazas, Tschumi’s proposition implies making an event out of the urban shock, intensifying and accelerating urban experience through clash and disjunction. This element of ‘shock’ is represented by the ‘folie’ (in translation from French, ‘madness’) that becomes the anchorage point, the element of transference that gives structure to a dissociated space, facilitating a temporary reordering of the exploded elements. Similarly to Koolhas’s ‘City of the Captive Globe’, the ‘folies’ are organized in the form of a grid, meant to give structure, to organize the chaos flowing through nodes of transference. Perhaps even more than Koolhaas, Tschumi’s work constantly refers to mobility as the superimposition and intersection of various movement networks that would generate nodes of casual social interaction and unpredicted, unauthorized events. Drawing inspiration from Manhattan’s contained frenzy, both Tschumi’s and Koolhaas’s proposals are underlined by the same ideological approach: an endless network of intensity points, sieved through the contained, two-dimensional element of the grid. By definition, the grid is anti-nature, anti-functional, abstract, infinite, lacking origin, centre or hierarchy. Both ‘City of the Captive Globe’ and ‘Parc de la Vilette’ are metaphors of the metropolis as an infinite, deregulated structure that is breaking away from the realm of the visible. The boundaries that used to coagulate the city’s structure have dissolved, almost rejecting the notion of a physical dimension. Quoting Tschumi: ’no more monuments, no more axes, no more anthropomorphic symmetries, but instead fragmentation, parcellization, atomization, as well as the random superimposition of images that bear no relationship to one another, except through their collision’. [40]


CONCLUSION In an attempt to counter-act work as an automatized production, or Koolhaas’ and Zenghelis’s Hotel Sphinx (1975-76) as one of the key proposals in ‘Delirious New York’s’ fictional conclusion and Tschumi’s La Villette (1987) as a materialization of the concepts forwarded in ‘Architecture and Disjunction’ promote architectural situations which surpass the constraint boundaries of modern functionalism by overriding them with events as promoters of freedom and play. Ellen Dunham Jones concludes: ‘This play is far from innocent or Utopian. It springs from a cynical disillusionment with the collapse of the sixties’ promises of revolution.’[41] It is essential to identify the differences in both Koolhaas’s and Tschumi’s ideological strategies. If Tschumi’s book echoes critiques of functionality in favour of a romanticized, yet radical architecture which finds a faithful ally in the ‘media’, Koolhaas is less concerned with creating a universal model. Koolhaas is more interested in portraying the possible faults in such models under certain development circumstances and setting the baselines for an operational architecture. Koolhaas’s designs reinforce the idea that it is impossible for the conventional to survive in an era defined by chaos theory, and recognizing the potential of uncertainty is essential: “If there is to be a ‘new urbanism’ it will not be based on the twin fantasies of order and omnipotence; it will be the staging of uncertainty; it will no longer be concerned with the arrangement of more or less permanent objects but with the irrigation of territories with potential; it will no longer aim for stable configurations but for the creation of enabling fields that accommodate processes that refuse to be crystallized into definitive form … it will no longer be obsessed with the city but with the manipulation of infrastructure for endless intensifications and diversifications, shortcuts and redistributions—the reinvention of psychological space. [42] To conclude with, I believe the remarkable aspect that surfaces from both Tschumi’s and Koolhaas’s books is the fact that instead of targeting their criticism towards society and its values, their analysis is oriented towards architecture and its role as an essential tool for social change. In an attempt to counter-act work as an automatized production, or Koolhaas’ and Zenghelis’s Hotel Sphinx (1975-76) as one of the key proposals in ‘Delirious New York’s’ fictional conclusion and Tschumi’s La Villette (1987) as a materialization of the concepts forwarded in ‘Architecture and Disjunction’ promote architectural situations which surpass the constraint boundaries of modern functionalism by overriding them with events as promoters of freedom and play. Ellen Dunham Jones concludes: ‘This play is far from innocent or Utopian. It springs from a cynical disillusionment with the collapse of the sixties’ promises of revolution.’[41] It is essential to identify the differences in both Koolhaas’s and Tschumi’s ideological strategies. If Tschumi’s book echoes critiques of functionality in favour of a romanticized, yet radical architecture which finds a faithful ally in the ‘media’, Koolhaas is less concerned with creating a universal model. Koolhaas is more interested in portraying the possible faults in such models under certain development circumstances and setting the baselines for an operational architecture.


REFERENCES [1] Wark, M. (2011), The beach beneath the street: the everyday life and glorious times of the Situationist International. London: Verso. [2] Dunham-Jones, E. (1999), The Generation of ‘68-Today; Tschumi, Koolhaas and the Institutionalization of Critique, Proceedings of the 86th ACSA Annual Meeting, 1998, Magasin for Modern Arkitektur. Available online at: [Accessed 02 June 2012], 529. [3] Koolhaas, R. (1994), ‘Delirious New York – A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan’, New York, Monacelli Press, 11. [4] Tschumi, B. (1994), Architecture and disjunction. Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press, 3. [5] Koolhaas, R. (1994), ‘Delirious New York – A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan’, New York, Monacelli Press, 125. [6] Tschumi, B. Op. cit., 5. [7] Ibid., 29. [8] Ibid., 49. [9] Ibid., 51. [10] Minca, L. (2011), A book review: Delirious New York – A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan’, 3. Cities and Urban Ideologies, Manchester School of Architecture. [11] Ibid. [12]Koolhaas, R. (1994), ‘Delirious New York – A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan’, New York, Monacelli Press, 33 [13] Ibid., 42 [14] Debord, G. (1994), The society of the spectacle. New York: Zone Books. [15]Koolhaas, R., Op. cit., 32. [16] Tschumi, B., Op. cit, 67. [17] Ibid., 64. [18] Bataille, G. (1986), Erotism: death & sensuality. San Francisco: City Lights Books. [19] Ibid., 65. [20] Dunham-Jones, E., Op. cit, 528. [21] Minca, L., Op. cit, 3. [22] Tschumi, B. (1994), Op. cit, 75. [23] Ibid., 74. [24] Koolhaas, R., Op. cit, 97. [25] Tschumi, B.,Op. cit,, 76. [26] Koolhaas, R., Op. ci,, 82. [27] Ibid., 85. [28] Ibid., 104. [29] Tschumi, B. (1994), The Manhattan transcripts. London: Academy Editions. [30] Tschumi, B. (2000) Event-Cities: [works from 1994 to 1999] 2. Cambridge, Mass. u.a: MIT Press, 390. [31] Montes, F., Tschumi, B. (February-March, 1970), “Do-It-Yourself-City”, L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui 148, pp. 98 -105. [32] Tschumi, B. (1994), Architecture and disjunction. Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press, 123.


[33] Ibid., 126. [34] Tschumi, B. (2000) Event-Cities: [works from 1994 to 1999] 2. Cambridge, Mass. u.a: MIT Press. [35] Lucan, J., Koolhaas R. (1991). OMA-Rem Koolhaas: architecture, 1970-1990. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press. [36] Tschumi, B. (1994), Architecture and disjunction. Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press, 248. [37] Ibid., 255. [38] ETH Zurich, 2011. Rem Koolhaas & Bernhard Tschumi. A Conversation moderated by Stephan Trüby with an introduction by Marc Angélil and Philip Ursprung. Available online at: [Accessed 04 June 2012]. [39] Haasnoot, W., 2011. Notes from Delirious New York, Warren Haasnoot Studio, [blog], April. Available at: < > [Accessed 5 June 2012]. [40] Tschumi, B. (1994), Architecture and disjunction. Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press, 215. [41] Dunham-Jones, E. (1999), The Generation of ‘68-Today; Tschumi, Koolhaas and the Institutionalization of Critique, Proceedings of the 86th ACSA Annual Meeting, 1998, Magasin for Modern Arkitektur. Available online at: [Accessed 02 June 2012], 532. [42] Koolhaas, “What Ever Happened to Urbanism?” In: Koolhaas, R., Mau, B., Sigler, J., & Werlemann, H. S, M, L, XL, Köln, Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 591.



This essay aims to look at the main research methods employed in my Masters’ dissertation. I decided to do a piece of qualitative research based on the main research methods used to address the subject matter. The methods were interviews (so as to explore the nature of the effects of communism upon the Bucharest’s urban fabric) on the one hand and the implementation of the technique of cinematic montage on the other hand. 1. DISSERTATION OUTLINE The main aim of the dissertation is to study the variations in visual and programmatic sequencing derived from the adaptation of film montage techniques to the urban scenario. For the purposes of this dissertation, vestiges of an unfinished operation initiated during the communist era, both the screening flanks of the Union Boulevard, piercing through the heart of the city, and the House of People as the volumetric climax of this axial progression are going to be dismantled and reassembled in the context of current Bucharest. Geographically, the dissertation zooms in on the Union Boulevard as a strategic approach meant to enhance and control the vista towards the ‘House of People’, Ceausescu’s most invasive architectural gesture. The second largest building in the world after the Pentagon in the U.S.A, the House of People is an embodiment of power, opulence and ostentation that overwhelms the surrounding areas (Pandele, 2009) [1]. How does one gaze at this fortress then? For locals, it is a daily reminder of the emotional scars the communist regime deeply embedded into their subconscious. For tourists, the House of People is a curiously large edifice which cannot be captured with one switch of the camera shutter. The extensive scheme of demolitions initiated by the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu echoed the regime’s paranoia of sovereignty and control. One of the primary concepts advanced by the communist ideology was the uniformization dictum which promoted the abolition of locality in the name of social equality. Nevertheless, the concept only functioned on a superficial level: the tall flanks of concrete blocks veiled the lives of the city’s residents behind, triggering high levels of social deprivation, segregation and exclusion. In sum, I am interested in developing a technique that would project the real pulse of the city and redefine spatial experience through the development of an elevational dialectic along the main circulation axes. My dissertation proposes a constant reconfiguring of the urban network – a city on wheels that feeds itself on fragmenting reality that then reassembles it under the principle of a conflictive order. Inspired by the work of a group of Romanian engineers and architects who managed to save a variety of heritage and religious buildings by mounting them on wheels and moving them along train track systems across the city (Speteanu, 2011) [2], I am planning to readapt this technique so as to shift the mobile-static relationship between people – ‘gazers’ and buildings – ‘the gazees’ (Urry, 2002) [3]. Thus, it is the buildings who will become the flâneurs, the wanderers through the city.


RATIONALE The lack of previous research carried on this topic as well as the novelty stemming from the correspondences between various disciplines constitutes the rationale for the study. I am confident that the project will stimulate further research by formulating a new approach to the subject matter. 2. RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES I have opted for a qualitative approach since I considered it to be most suitable way to provide information and develop a niche to support further research on the subject. As opposed to quantitative research procedures based on ‘writing the research in a manner consistent with a survey or experimental study’ (Creswell, 2003:192) [4], qualitative methods stem from the exploratory nature of the study ‘which involve analyzing data by looking at their content and meaning’ (Hays, 2000:3) [5]. Furthermore, as a result of this study’s interpretative stance which stems from the strategies of inquiry and aims of research, I will base my study on methods of observation, participatory-observation, interviewing and audio-visual recording (Creswell, 2007) [6]. 2. 1 COURSE HIGHLIGHTS The series of lectures presented within the course during Semester 1 of the 2011-2012 academic year played an important part in why I chose to undertake these particular research methodologies in order to outline and support the framework of my study/dissertation. The talk given by the sociologist Barbara Rawlings (October, 2011) on the research journey and the reflective methods involved in such a process was particularly interesting. The suggestions made during her presentation enabled me to organize my study in a cohesive manner and increased my ability to collect and analyze research. For example, in order to monitor the progress of my work, but also to compile and organize the information I gathered, I decided to start a blog as an online archive which I can rapidly browse and update at any time ( Moreover, one of the main advantages of the blog allowed me to introduce my work not only to the interviewees, but also to a wider audience with a similar area of interest across the world.

240 2. 2 METHODS 2. 2 .1 Interviews An essential component of my research involves formulating and supporting the direction of my study on the information extracted through interviewing. Six interviews were negotiated to take place in Bucharest, Romania and one in Manchester, United Kingdom. Florin Serbanescu (FS) – Romanian Patriarchy Minister Bogdan Ghiu (BG) - Award-winning poet, cultural critic, theorist (literature, media, art, architecture) and essayist for Architext Magazine Eugeniu Iordachescu (EI) – Structural Engineer, designer of the ‘Translation’ Technique Maria Duda (MD) – Architect and Tutor at the Faculty of Architecture ‘Spiru Haret’ University Nicolae Margineanu (NM) – Film director, script writer and actor Dinu Giurescu (DG) – Historian, Academician and Professor of Art History and Theory, The University of Bucharest Stephen Hutchings (SH) – Professor of Russian Studies, School of Languages, Linguistics and Cult

Considering the array of participants I envisaged to discuss with, a meticulous plan establishing the data targets, the interview set, format and approach had to be carefully outlined (Borden, 2006) [7] so as to ensure the successful collection of the data I required in my study. As the aims of this study are explorative in nature, a semi-structured interview was chosen as the most appropriate approach. In order to achieve a better understanding of the consequences generated by the systematization process in communist Romania, I spent two weeks in Bucharest in the period 26 March - 10 April 2012. The final interview carried in Manchester, analyzing the evolution of Soviet montage took place on the 29th of May 2012. The aim of the study envisaged a series of interviews with respondents from various disciplines, all related to my topic of research. Therefore, I decided for purposive sampling (Collins et al., 2006) [8] techniques (see table above for more information on the interviewees). Reaching four of these interviewees – BG, EI, NM, DG - proved to be particularly challenging since their high profiles within the Romanian academic scene did not allow me to obtain their direct contact information. As a result, I followed the trail of common acquaintances which led me to successfully obtain their permission to take part in my study. In MD’s case, she promptly responded to my e-mail request. According to Borden (2006) [9], the ethical policies are an important aspect to clarify before moving on to the data analysis. Consequently, all the participants in my study gave their consent for me to use and publish the recordings in the future development of my thesis. They also agreed to be quoted as appropriate.


Considering the fact that five of the six interviewees have experienced life in communism, their testimony was of particular value since they provided an accurate account of the challenges this tumultuous period triggered in their professional and personal lives. This enabled me to outline a more vivid picture of the social and urban context of the time. This is especially the case, since, although born in communism, I did not experience communism as such, as I was too young to remember what it involved and its impact upon daily life. I was interested in finding out more about the lifestyle prior to the communist uprise the way they perceived the shift towards communism and its actions upon the city, but also how they appreciate the urban tissue of Bucharest within the current political and economic context. Three interviewees witnessed directly the impact of demolitions (DG, EI, FS), and opened up about the subsequent psychological trauma they were subjected to. The other three debated the fragmented nature of the city as a result of Ceausescu totalitarian regime’s failure to thoroughly implement its goals. This enabled me to extract accurate information on the area’s metamorphosis from a lower and middleclass residential neighbourhood into the main axis of the city (1974 - 1989), culminating with the soviet architecture of the House of People (1980 - 1997). I would like to stress the value of the interview carried with EI, the creator of the ‘Translation’ technique as an essential practice which I will revive through my proposal. This interviewee provided me with unique and unpublished information on the procedural details supporting this approach. This will eventually provide the technical basis for the implementation of the concept of montage. Of particular importance to the conclusion surfacing from the discussions with the Romanian participants is the predominantly pessimistic final conclusion of five of the six interviewees – DG, BG, EI, FS, NM . They strongly disapprove Bucharest’s present urban development strategies and criticize the current administration, concluding that a change needs to take place in order to redefine the city’s identity. Equally significant though is MD’s stance who believes that going against the current phenomenon of high-rise glass architecture is misleading. She explains that it is precisely this de-centralized approach, this acupuncture of the urban tissue that would revive various areas of the city on a programmatic and aesthetic level. Upon my return to Manchester, I contacted S.H. My aim was to achieve a better understanding of the concept of montage and its evolution within the Soviet context. Following the structure of a list of questions which I had previously formulated as a result of the research carried prior to the discussion (see Appendix ?), the interviewee discussed the approaches developed by the pioneering minds behind the concept of montage. I considered of particular importance the connection between montage and other disciplines which the interviewee helped me understand by drawing on the definition of montage which itself stems from the study of language. The information gathered throughout the discussions with S.H. fuelled my confidence that this project will successfully devise a new approach which will provide the basis for further study and


2.2.2 Observer + Audio/Visual Recordings: Study trips – Havana(Cuba) and Bucharest(Romania) Being selected to attend the 3rd Caribbean Winter School in Havana in the period 18 February - 14 March 2012(, Cuba gave me the opportunity to research and grasp a clearer understanding of how Havana’s urban fabric has been manipulated while under a similar socialist regime to the one Romania was subjected to prior to the 89’ revolution. The series of lectures on Havana’s historical and urban condition as well as the exploration of the city and the compilation of photographical and video data inspired me to do a comparative study between Havana and Bucharest looking at the rhythmical sequence emerging between the grid - elevation relationship. Upon my trip to Bucharest in April 2012, I conducted a similar study based on recording the elevational flanks on the Union Boulevard leading towards the House of People. Additionally, in order to obtain the city plans at different stages in its evolution I contacted two students at ‘Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism’ (Bucharest, Romania). They provided me with the 2D data and confirmed that the most recent information dates from 1991. The conclusion to my combative quest emerged rapidly. As opposed to Bucharest’s mutilation, the communist regime in Cuba seems to have had (and continues to have) a different approach towards its historical colonial vestiges: while La Habana Vieja (Old Havana) was untainted by the communist architectural manifestoes, the main socialist residential clusters act as satellites to the old city plan. The study of gaze and how the elements of urban screening translate into Havana’s elevational unfolding provided a starting point for the patterns of montage implementation along the Union Boulevard in Bucharest. The collection of local newspapers, books and periodicals while in Havana and Bucharest provided me with a basis in the analysis of the comparison between the two capitals. 2.2.3. Participant - Observer _ Film Workshop - Montage Testing the properties of montage is a key element in the reinterpretation of the phenomenon of urban screening manifested along the Union Boulevard axis. In order to become more familiar with the film theory and practice underlying the introduction of this element, I undertook three sessions of a film workshop organized by Manchester Metropolitan University and conducted by French film director Pablo Melchor in the period March-April 2012. The aim of the sessions was to analyze the stages in making a film, bringing to the fore concepts such as writing, filming and the language of editing ( Not only did this experience bring new dimensions of my understanding of films, but it also allowed me to obtain relevant advice regarding the types of cinematic data relevant to my Masters’ study.


Consequently, I started analyzing the works of prolific directors such as Sergei Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, Lev Kuleshov and Andrei Tarkovski while translating the techniques surfacing throughout their works into architectural language. If the classical approach to architecture is based upon harmony and visual correlation, the issue of disjunction is addressed as a current architectural condition: we are no longer dealing with the work as product but with the work as process. With montage as a key concept stemming from the Soviet avantgarde cinematic movement, my dissertation aims to explore the dynamic properties of this technique by applying it to the current urban tissue as a means of reshaping perception and redefining spatial praxis. Additionally, taking part in this workshop allowed me to interact and observe the manner in which filmstudies students approached the debated topics, enabling me to note their overview regarding the relationship between narrative patterns and structure which I intend to further develop in my study. 3. BRIEF LITERATURE REVIEW The history of Bucharest’s- Romania’s capital- architectural evolution uncovers stages of latent pressures and struggle. The insatiable thirst for power of the political apparatus subjugated the city, turning it into the victim of failed experiments and contrasting desires (Giurescu, 1989) [10]. With the instauration of communism in December 1947, Bucharest’s urban tissue has undergone major transformations as the regime’s formal ambitions, based on creating a new system of gaze through the linear tracing of the main socialist boulevards, mutilated the city’s profile irreversibly (Ioan, 1992) [11]. The general tone of these works is fuelled by the reminiscence of a destructive, inconsiderate past which is heavily criticized. While such studies have focused on the rendering of a moment frozen in time after the regime’s fall in 1989, more recent research (Duda, 2009) [12] sought to identify the active consequences of the socialist legacy and debate their position within the current urban and cultural context. For instance, Duda(2009) focuses on the phenomenon of urban screening that has been systematically implemented along the main axes of Bucharest as a celebration of the regime’s magnificence, fragmenting the urban tissue through the shielding, polarization of the ‘spiritual, geographical and aesthetic aspects of the city’(p. 1) [13]. Other studies have increasingly focused on the post-1989 Bucharest and the transitional period that the city has undergone facing the capitalist wave propelling Bucharest from a communist borough with monumental aims, to a post-socialist battleground with gated communities at its outskirts (Ioan, 2010) [14]. Additionally, this shift in focus is also emphasized by Giurescu (2010) [15]. His studies are less reminiscent of the past urban systematisation enforcements, instead focusing on the current deteriorating condition of the city under the existing administration.


Apart from the exploring the literature directly applied to the context of Bucharest, my research has been also heavily shaped by the investigation I conducted as part of my Studio A project earlier on this year (see Minca, 2012a) [16]. That project centred on the Situationist movement, a powerful avant-garde intellectual force of the 1960’s. Specifically, the studies of Wark (2011) [17] and Sadler (1999) [18] provide a thorough overview of the Situationist practice. The main goal of stiuationism was to destabilize order through the infiltration of disorder as the principle underlying the techniques of ‘détournement’ and ‘dérive’. While some of such post-revolutionary research focused exclusively on depicting the reality of the Situs, lacking a certain critical dimension in addressing the contemporary architectural condition, the work of pioneering architectural theorists such as Tschumi(1994) [19] and Koolhaas(1978) [20] is heavily influenced by the context of the May ‘68 revolution which they directly experienced (Minca, 2012b) [21]. Accordingly, both authors focus on the propagation of the Situationist credo through the exploration of the concepts of disjunction and architecture as event/program, defined by the dynamics of corporeal movement through a space (Minca, 2012b) [22]. The chief focus of this approach, closely intertwined with the cinematic spatial experience and practice, wasto explore the dynamism of the disjunctive space – place relationship. For Tschumi, Architecture stands at the critical confrontation point between space and activity, stemming from the clash of mutually exclusive or contradictory terms. Simultaneously, architecture is the offspring of the paradox which can translate into pleasure and equally, into a violence that could shatter society’s conservative elements. These two premonitory statements lead Tschumi to the conclusion that architecture is inherently disjointed, fragmented and turns his analysis towards other disciplines to support his argument. These include Eisenstein’s (1949) [23] and Vertov’s (1984) [24] film theories. As Eisenstein (1949) [25] explains, the concept of montage is supported by a dynamic process, defined by the action of fragmenting reality and then reassembling it under the principle of a conflictive order. The current dynamics in economic, social and cultural flows (Urry, 2007) [26] has encouraged a shift in the architect’s role from creating to programming (Bundgaard, 2009) [27]. Another key aspect in the methodological implementation of my concept is underlined by the ‘translation technique’ developed by structural engineer Eugeniu Iordachescu (Speteanu, 2011) [28] in an attempt to save Bucharest’s religious and heritage edifices as the demolition scheme was launched in 1974. The revival of this innovative technique as the technical support for the application of the soviet montage theory as a means to tackle the phenomenon of urban screening triggered my interest in further exploring the correlations between these elements.


Clearly, there is scope here for a great deal more research that will formulate the outlines of a proposal which would address Bucharest’s fragmented nature. CONCLUSION I strongly believe the data collected during the research stage informed the delineation of my research questions while at the same time, opening up new avenues of further research. The exploration of the interactive and humanistic methods advanced by the technique of qualitative research (Creswell, 2003) [29] enabled me to acquire the level of information I aspired to in order to coagulate the theoretical/literary data that initially triggered my interest, into a directed, focused study. The interviews conducted in both Bucharest and Manchester offered me a broader perspective upon the formal transformations the city has been subjected to under the direct impact of the governing political authorities, while deepening my knowledge in terms of the adequate strategies of montage I can experiment with in order to address the phenomenon of urban screening and fragmentation. Furthermore, the fieldwork to Havana and Bucharest allowed me to familiarize myself with and observe the Soviet influence upon the emerging urban structure and patterns of both Bucharest and Havana. With montage as a fundamental strategy fuelling the speculative nature of my study, it was essential to achieve a thorough understanding of its operation within its original environment – cinema. Accordingly, the film workshop cited provided a much needed practical basis for my assumptions. To conclude, I consider the courses I attended during Semester 1 provided me with invaluable theoretical information on tailoring a framework suitable for the nature of my study. Additionally, it educated me on anticipating the hindrances that may arise along the research process while preparing me to avoid or quickly overcome such obstacles. Moreover, through the fieldwork undergone in Havana, Bucharest and Manchester, I saw how some of the theoretical principles were applied in practice. Consequently, I believe the research I conducted during the second semester of the academic year proved to be particularly fruitful, enabling me to connect my areas of interest in a coherent, innovative manner.


REFERENCES [1]Pandele, A. (2009), The House of the People - the end, in marble, Bucureşti, Compania. [2]Speteanu, V. G. (2010), Dr. ing. Eugeniu Iordǎchescu: un salvator al monumentelor de arhitecturǎ, Bucureşti, Editura Speteanu. [3]Urry, J. (2002), The tourist gaze, London, Sage Publications. [4]Creswell, J. W., (2003), Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches, Thousand Oaks, Calif, Sage Publications. [5]Hayes, N. (2000), Doing psychological research: gathering and analysing data, Buckingham, Open University Press. [6]Creswell, J. W., (2007), Qualitative inquiry & research design: choosing among five approache, Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications. [7]Borden, I., & Ruedi, K. (2000), The dissertation: an architecture student’s handbook, Oxford, Architectural Press. [8]Collins, K. M. T., (2006), Prevalence of Mixed-Methods Sampling Designs in Social Science Research. Evaluation and Research in Education. 19, 83-10. [9]Borden, I., & Ruedi, K. (2000), The dissertation: an architecture student’s handbook, Oxford, Architectural Press. [10]Giurescu, D. C., (1989), The razing of Romania’s past: international preservation report, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Committee, International Council on Monuments and Sites. [11] Ioan, A. (2009), Modern architecture and the totalitarian project: a Romanian case study, București: Institutul Cultura Român. [12] Duda, M. E. (2009), Bucharest and its screening devices, What Kind of Public Spaces Do We Need?, Wessex Sustainable Urban Development. [13] Ibid, p.1 [14]Ioan, A. (2009), Modern architecture and the totalitarian project: a Romanian case study, București: Institutul Cultura Român. [15]Giurescu, D. C., & Colfescu, S. (2010). Arhitectura Bucureștilor încotro? București, Editura Vremea. [16]a Minca, L. (2012), Under the Pavement, Studio A, Manchester School of Architecture. [17]Wark, M. (2011), The beach beneath the street: the everyday life and glorious times of the Situationist International. London: Verso. [18]Sadler, S. (1998), The situationist city, Cambridge Mass, MIT Press. [19] Tschumi, B. (1994), Architecture and disjunction. Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press. [20] Koolhaas, R. (1994), ‘Delirious New York – A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan’, New York, Monacelli Press. [21]b Minca, L. (2012), Comparative Essay: Delirious New York – Architecture and Disjunction, Cities and Urban Ideologies, Manchester School of Architecture, p.3 [22]Ibid, p.5. [23]Eisenstein, S., & Leyda, J. (1949), Film form; essays in film theory, New York, Harcourt, Brace. [24]Vertov, D., & Michelson, A. (1984). Kino-eye: the writings of Dziga Vertov. Berkeley, Ca, University of California Press.


[25]Eisenstein, S., & Leyda, J. (1949), Film form; essays in film theory, New York, Harcourt, Brace. [26]Urry, J. (2007), Mobilities, Cambridge, UK: Polity. [27]Bundgaard, C., (2009), Framing Fragmentation – The Architect as a Master of Montage, Available online at: [28]Speteanu, V. G. (2010), Dr. ing. Eugeniu Iordǎchescu: un salvator al monumentelor de arhitecturǎ, Bucureşti, Editura Speteanu. [29]Creswell, J. W., (2003), Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches, Thousand Oaks, Calif, Sage Publications.

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