Residential Building in Bucharest / Synthesis Architecture

© Cosmin Dragomir

Architects: Synthesis Architecture Ltd
Location: Tamaioarei 15, Sector 2, Bucharest,
Design Architect: Panteli Mourgka
Collaborator: Elena Balan
Structure: Contrust Group Ltd
Land Area: 282 sqm
Built Area: 560 sqm
Client: Mrs. Dorina Petre
Completion: 2011
Photographs: Cosmin Dragomir

© Cosmin Dragomir

This project in Bucharest manages to develop a small collective housing scheme under a minimal budget, proposing a new way of living as well as a new urbanistic approach for a controversial neighbourhood.

Difficult location and impossible regulations
This project is located close to the central area of Bucharest in a quite problematic context. It is a genuine slum almost unchanged over the years, almost abandoned by the Bucharest’s administration and planners, but located right next to the Plumbuita Park, which has a beautiful lake and an important Orthodox monastery. Since the beginning of the design process, we faced all these conflicting data: a typical dense slum plot, with an (urban?) life that sometimes bursts too intense for what a public space / private space / neighborhood should be, versus the huge potential of an exceptional natural environment. Due to these circumstances, the decisions we took during the design attempted to solve this paradoxical equation.

© Cosmin Dragomir

The project story begins when the owner (a young lady) decides to invest on a plot of 282 sqm. Initially, the City Hall planner’s proposal was an urban solution illustrating an indifferent replica of the Bucharest specific wagon-house. But for such a land, with the opening of 6.6 m and length of 42 m, that would mean compromising any relationship with a possible courtyard as well as a completely non-functional building, impossible to develop and, later on, to sale.

© Cosmin Dragomir

Urbanfront and courtyards: towards a new morphology
First of all, the proposal we made was a radical typological change: from the urban wagon-house, to a scheme composed by 2 separate volumes. Therefore, without changing the density of the area, that is, keeping unchanged the local urban density parameters, this new typological choice came from the redistribution of the built areas rather on vertical than on the horizontal direction. With this operation we obtained a smaller footprint, resulting in more compact volumes each with a larger courtyard.

Even though more conventional and higher, these two volumes are certainly more functional than the initial single volume wagon-house of approx. 4 x 30 m might have been. Moreover, the two volumes establish a proper relationship with their courtyards area. By using the full width of the land, the proportions of these courtyards allowed the ground organization of all necessary parking places, without the need for underground parking and thereby a basement level with all its economical implications for such a small investment.

© Cosmin Dragomir

Finally, this typological change is meant to be a potential pilot intervention of the area, in order to encourage a more efficient future urban morphology. This could result in a positive (but not utopical) scenario of attracting similar investments, and perhaps it will help the urban slums of Plumbuita in getting out of the socio-urban collapse, which is presently in.

In volumetric and functional terms, the two blocks are almost identical. The only notable difference is that the ground floor of the first block, that stands closer to the street, leaves a gangway access toward the courtyard and the second block that’s located in the depth of the plot. Except the ground floor of the first one, each level of the two blocks contains 1 bedroom apartment with a built area of approx. 68 sqm. That is, a total of 7 apartments.

floor plans

Expression and materials

The general expression of the facades was chosen for two reasons. The first is a practical one: the need to protect the privacy of the apartments, given the small distance (10 m) between two apartments located across or between the building and its neighbors. The second reason resulted from processing the vertical timber fence pattern, which is omnipresent in the context of the slums. Also, the vertical louvers (local stained pine slats attached to steel frames) were chosen for their better maintenance, compared to the horizontal ones.


As already said, the materials and technologies involved have pursued the effectiveness of this small investment. There were used traditional construction systems (masonry and reinforced concrete frames) simple finishes and technical solutions. The main goal of this project was for us the appropriate answer to the context demands, but also to our young client’s needs. However, this involved an attempt to provide a generic example of how to build intelligently within a contradictory but simulative context, as it is the traditional Bucharest slums.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Residential Building in Bucharest / Synthesis Architecture" 01 Mar 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>
  • mte

    good work. i like the combination of darker and lighter wood. i think it could have been wrapped all over the building
    anyway nice to see good architecture from romania

  • ashaad

    building’s nice. the surroundings are incredible.

  • biro projekti

    how clever this design is! improved urbanity by cheap means.