Archis Interventions in Bucharest

Workshop: AStrategy for Collective Housing, A Legacy of the Socialist Era
Bucharest / April 3-5, 2009

Organised by Archis Interventions together with the Zeppelin Association and Point4, in cooperation with ATU, Space Syntax and Platforma 9,81

All over former Eastern Europe, collective dwellings built in the Socialist era are now in a critical state, in terms both of their structure and their social function. Privatization of this housing fund in the early 90s led to a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, complete social disintegration has left to a chaotic individual development of the units (apartments) and derelict communal spaces. Complete rehabilitation of this housing no longer appears even remotely possible. On the other hand, despite its physical similarities with housing estates in Western countries, this housing was created not to serve disadvantaged social groups (i.e. as "social housing") but as a political means to level class differences (i.e.: as "housing for everybody"). Few alternatives were available and these neighbourhoods consequently still enjoy a degree of social mix and urbanity - although its decline has certainly set in.

Bucharest, one of the largest cities in South-Eastern Europe, is characterized by this type of prefab housing, which accounts for 70 per cent of the city's total housing stock. Bucharest's development was quite specific however: large estates developments were here planned as extensions of the city, not as new towns; a huge number of them are situated in the inner city core, the result of totalitarian planning in the 1980s; and the radical socio-political upheaval of 1989 caused abrupt, extensive change. This makes it a perfect place to study the relationship between totalitarian planning and ultra-liberal growth, between the collective and the individual, and the private and the public spheres.


Results of the workshop - Analysis of the current state of collective housing and development of maintenance strategies

The workshop analysed the current state of collective dwellings built in the socialist era in Bucharest and developed urban, architectural, technical and legislative strategies for these neighbourhoods. The results will be presented locally in June 2009 - in an exhibition supplemented by a programme of public discussions and interventions - and then later be integrated into the "Balkanology" exhibition at the Architekturzentrum Wien/Vienna in October 2009. The project's long-term aim is to support existing programs and also to develop new strategies and model projects.

Supported by ERSTE Foundation, The Austrian Cultural Center and the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Bucharest