• Competition
  • Bucharest
  • RO
  • 1996
  • i.c.w. Hugo Beschoor Plug


The Bucharest 2000 competition demands a scheme for the urban redevelopment of an area that is burdened by the spatial heritage of totalitarian politics. This particular context raises explicitly the main issue of urbanism and architecture today; the redefinition of the notion of public and private space.

Due to social and cultural developments the notion of public and private space has gradually changed in the past decades. The increasingly divergent territorial demands of the diffe­rent minorities that constitute an urban society as well as legal and moral restrictions have privatized public space, while the private space of the dwelling has been opened to the public by the penetration of a large range of media devices. In this sense one could establish the fact that the notions public and private have lost their original meaning as a concept for designing urban or architectural spaces. At the present moment it is better to speak of the concept of collec­tive and individual space.

The main theme of architecture and urbanism today concerns the definition of the present meaning of collective and individual space and their mutual relation and the development of spatial means suitable for designing and, eventually, expressing these notions.

The project ALLOCATED GROUNDS unites the original urban struc­ture and spatial quality of Bucharest with the present notion of collective and individual space. The project offers a clear spatial and strategic concept for the redevelopment of the site in order to create an open and transparent urban space that is physically as well as mentally accessible on all levels and suitable for every programmatical function.

The project considers the commitment of private initiative an essential means in establishing the collective meaning of urban space.

The project offers flexibility in quantity and time; the redevelopment concept can easily incorporate changing future conceptions without loosing it’s spatial quality.

ALLOCATED GROUNDS should be regarded as a spatial planning concept; the project doesn’t present a final image, but should be read as a simulation of the redevelopment of the site at a certain moment in time.


1. An elaborated and specific pattern of streets defines the urban structure of the site, connecting the site with the existing spatial and urban structure of Bucharest and defining the city of Bucharest as a self-contained and attractive spatial whole.

The pattern is based on a conceptual grid of parallel, mutual connected streets. The grid is transformed in order to create a specific and alluring urban structure that one can identify with. The following considerations define the transformation of the grid:

- The spatial influence of the existing structuring elements, ranging from large scale elements like the altimetry of the site, the river (which is connected again at the Piata Unii­ri), the axis and the open spaces to the scale of specific built objects, establishing the spatial meaning of these existing elements within the urban scheme.

- The spatial influence of the recently abandoned urban struc­ture and characteristic elements on the site, which still are part of the collective memory of the inhabitants of Bucharest.

- The existing infrastructure, the necessary and desirable infrastructural connections and the hierarchy of continuous and local streets. A relatively small percentage of the exis­ting totalitarian architecture is being demolished in order to provide with the infrastructural necessities.

- The specific spatial quality of the different parts of the emerging urban scheme.

The emerging street pattern thus conforms to the original spatial, programmatical and historical context, while trans­forming it’s original meaning.

2. The urban space that is defined by the pattern of streets is allocated in order to be developed by private initiative.

The allotments are privately developed, but remain collective property; the individual properties are managed on the basis of long-term leases. They remain part of the urban fabric of collective spaces that constitute the spatial structure of the city of Bucharest; the open spaces remain accessible for all inhabitants, without any physical bounda­ries. The concept challenges private initiative to develop
specific ideas and conceptions about the meaning and design of the collective urban space, valuable initiatives are subsidi­zed by the government by means of diminishing the costs of the lease.

The concept of ALLOCATED GROUNDS aims at the creation of an open and transparent urban structure of highly divergent collective spaces which enables every inhabitant and visitor to identify with the city in his own way; creating a truly and self-evident collective city. In order to insure the spatial intentions and quality of the urban scheme certain rules are formulated concerning the built mass on the allocations:

- A specific density envelope determines the distribution of built mass on the site, relating the footprint and height of the building to the surface of the allocation.

- At least one facade of every building conforms to the align­ment of the street; the built mass spatially defines the street pattern.

- Every building is free-standing. Every facade is considered a building front, spatially defining the streets and collective urban spaces. The facades relate the occupants and contents of the building to the collective open spaces, insuring the social safety of the urban environment.

- The materialization of the buildings is restricted to a limited number of characteristic and historically determined building materials in order to establish the architectural unity of the urban scheme as well as the historic continuity of the scheme with the existing city of Bucharest.

The urban scheme thus combines a classical conception of space as being clearly defined by the built mass with a spatial conception of the solitary object and the structuring quality of open space itself.

The project proposes a radical mixing of program over the whole site. Widely divergent functions (living, production, leisure, services and commerce) are planned next to each other in order to establish an urban program that functions 24 hours a day.

The theoretical and spatial intentions of the project generate an interesting framework for the redevelopment of existing architectural typologies and the development of new building­ types. The typological elaboration of, for example, the rela­tion between the individual spaces of different building types and the surrounding collective urban space or the typological development of different collective allocations and their mutual transition should be explored in a second phase of the project.