Architects: Re-Act Now
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Design Team: Mario Kuibus, Roxana Dumitriu, Irina Plesnila, Cristina Chivu, Elena Toader, Ioan Marcean, Adela Antoniu, Valentin Varlan
Area: 2600.0 sqm
Photographs: Andrei Margulescu
What could we do in the context of revitalizing architecture to keep a more vivid picture of an old building with (even partial) special features? It is a question to which we can respond in two ways. The valuable part – the special one – will be restored and the unworthy one we rebuild, complete, emphasize – in a first variant – absolutely in the same stylistic story as the old valuable one, or we dress it – in a second variant – in a completely new concept in major contrast with the existing situation. We chose the second variant, first because the challenge that came with it was more entitled in the context of Bucharest, where such approaches are lacking, but also because the new functions that the house needed were based on a great flexibility and a general transparency, things which the first version could not offer.
Why was flexibility so necessary in the given theme?, people might also ask. Well the program itself of the building is an unusual one. The owner, a partnership of two companies, under the initiative of a PR man – Teodor Frolu – (also an architect), had the «madness» of conceiving such a full of risks theme, where open public areas combine with semiopen private areas existing in a relationship of mutual functional use, where similar needs and actions on certain moments bring together some functional facilities newly created (conference and multimedia hall, table tennis space, usable terrace on top of the house). Also, it was something new the intention to create a Culture an Creativity Center in the end, an alternative to represent a counterpoint in Bucharest’s cultural context, where – in the public area – events and exhibitions may take place, doubled by a coffee and a good croissant or a meal fussion or a slow food typically Romanian, where – in the private area – there also may be some companies that work in the creative fields, may they be in advertising, PR, media production, events, etc.
The existing building was drawn at its origins by an Italian architect in trend in the architectural Romanian culture at the end of XIXth century and beginning of XXth century, named Giulio Magni. Giulio Magni, among others, was chief architect of Bucharest, built architectural objects such as Hala Traian, Ensemble Customs-Goods Exchange-Warehouses (V-BM-A) where it appears that Angel Saligny had a structural intake, the Communal Road School, etc.. The existing building – the former goods exchange – is part of the Ensemble Customs-Goods Exchange Warehouses and is the most «in the street» and the most coquette of the houses belonging to it. Its high state of degradation in which it was when our design approach started, resulted from the fact that for many years it was unused and therefore untaken care of in any way. Also, a devastating fire burned the roof meanwhile and loosened all its walls. In this context, a ready-made additional «affection» was called upon us considering the approach of details and the methodology for the recovery of the valuable fund.
I was especially marked by the years I lived in Vienna. Vienna is a city of absolute contrasts. Oriflamme city of classical European culture as well as of the avant-garde, action taking, manifest type. City of Wittgenstein’s philosophies, Freudian physiology, of Looses’ details, of Scheele’s sicknesses, of anarchic socialisms, imperial bourgeoisies, of Hundert-Wasser phantasmagorias, of technical-educational paradigms, of fashionable cafés, Otto Wagner’s technicisms, of bohemian melodicity, of Parisian rebellion, of the simplicity of the pragmatic, of strudel, schnitzel, wurstel, of… of… of…, Vienna, for those who succeed in discovering its «truths», becomes: THE SPICE.
The story we offered to the new house from the former Commodities Exchange actually lives in small the Viennese SPICE where imperial melancholly is framed by the anarchic context of the sincerity and simplicity of technically virgin beauty. In other words, the relationship between the two «worlds» which the house show while crossing its threshold, is in this case, the Viennese micro cosmos framed, mystified, vulgarized, modernized, technicized, worshiped, cartooned, sublimated, sodomized, synthesized, philosophized, tabooed, soap opera-d, a mélange, academy like, liberalized, otv-like, waltzed, metaphysic, versed… The new building has become a sensitive «shell game» phrase. The Human transcends ambiguous states when meeting the place, the neighborhood, the people, the local memories already knew or just foreseen…