87 – AI1227 – SC ADN Birou de Arhitectură SRL & SC Exhibit Arhitectura SRL

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AUTORI: SC ADN Birou de Arhitectură & SC Exhibit Arhitectura

COAUTORI: SC ADN Birou de Arhitectură srl (Andrei Şerbescu, Bogdan Brădăţeanu, Adrian Untaru, Irina Băncescu, Cristina Enuţă, Oana Cucoranu, Bogdan Tănase Marinescu) și SC Exhibit Arhitectura srl (Johannes Bertleff, Dragoș Oprea, Magda Vieriu, Carolina Comșa, Cristina Matei)

COLABORATORI SPECIALITĂȚI: ing. peisagist Alexandru Ciobotă, ing. peisagist Raluca Rusu

A thin, fragile plan, (un)covering a hidden world which we do not know and we do not see, a world from which we have estranged and which we seem to give up with no regrets. The city’s pavement as a horizontal facade, a “fifth facade” with walled windows closing the unseen part of the city, on which one will, maybe, tread more softly. The city looks at us from beneath.

Windows and walls, slabs and earth. Concrete in multiple states (polished, mechanically or chemically treated, precast or poured in-situ). The sensitive surface of the pavement reacts differently: some areas are heated in the wintertime and all the snow melts on them; others sound like empty when stepping on them; above the plenum, the slabs are mounted with open joints and some of the small concrete pieces move slightly when standing on them; from several points water is sprayed to the surface and forms small clouds between the birches.


The overlapping of various urban projects (all unfinished) during the 20th century, makes Bucharest an ambiguous and heterogeneous city, but especially for this reason picturesque at the same time. Its recent evolution has transformed it in a turbid, stirred city, with fewer and fewer space for people. By constantly trying to recover the disparities towards the European metropolis, this city neglects and ignores exactly what could make it special. The necessity of modernisation seems to be materialised in Bucharest only in a continuous intrusion of the economics into the public, up to their identification.


The public space, as it is understood in contemporary European cities, is almost absent here. In its recent history, the city was conquered by vehicles, while its infrastructure remained almost unchanged. For pedestrians, Bucharest is a long series of obstacles. The public space is folded, constrained and always subordinated. Urban policies never put people on the first place.


University Square symbolises the moment zero of the modern city, it is the origin of the “new city”. It is a place for repeated beginnings, it is a moment zero that is re-staged cyclical. The essential fact of establishing a superior education in Romanian language, in this place, the edification of the first museum in Bucharest and the coagulation of the first bothanical garden confered upon the square a strong cultural vocation.

The place was, concomitantly, the first urban square in Bucharest, a new typology of urban space that was not predetermined for circulation. It was set up as a representative space for the Academy building, whose garden was initially meant to be. The square and the boulevard in front of it (the first urban boulevard) were designed at the intersection of some virtual axis, considered at the moment to have absolute value – the parallel to the University façade and its axis perpendicular. Its space, along with the boulevard space, constituted a “singular moment of the beginnings”, of the “experiment” (N. Lascu). It was, afterwards, the first area with paved sidewalks, with electric tramway and with electric public lighting.

University Square has always been considered the center of the city, in a city that’s always been lacking a center.


Bucharest is frequently discussed using the syntagma of the palimpsest city: every historical period tried to overlap the anterior one, to replace it, to substitute it. Today Bucharest is self-cancelling, self-eliminating, self-pushing away. In this context, University Square is seen as a “place of memory, in a Bucharest that maintains an ambiguous relation with its past and its history” (M. Banica). In the public conscience, the memorial value of the place is given mainly by the imprint of 1989 moment. But what is the memory of this place and how does it address to recent man? And, in the context of the project, to what extent a place discharged of its memories  can still commemorate (its) past?


Our project proposes a new point “zero” – a recuperative and a regenerative one; a type of modernity which won’t erase anylonger, but will assimilate instead. Erasing and rewriting cannot be (anylonger) a sustainable way of working with the modern city.

What we propose:

-the restatement of the University Square as a modern and representative urban space for the contemporary city, as a distinctive element of urban identity and a mark for the center of Bucharest

-the reference to the two moments that we consider important in the history of the square: the end of the XIXth century, when the place was a green lush garden and the interbelic period, when the space had became exclusively mineral

– a “fine tuning” of the most important object found here, Mihai Viteazu’s statue (the statue has not been designed especially for this place, therefore it’s scale is not the proper one for the scale of the square), through:

  • repositioning the statue in the geometrical center of the square
    • an optical corection; the statue stands on the highest point, lifted with 50cm from its proposed position. Therefore, one will also be invited to come inside the square by the gentle slope; the main traffic flux will disperse more easily into the square
    • reconfiguring the space, for a better perception of the statue. The trees background – transparent and profound – diminishes the void of the square and brings it at the same scale with the statue.
    • Marking the originar place of the statue (the sunken platform), the same way as this place had been marked before, when Mihai had been put on the unbeaten earth of a Bucharest’s garden’s corner. The statue preexisted the square.

-the recovery of the concept of portico and colonnade, an idea that circulated in the interbellic projects for the area, through the dense ring of slender birch trees, that perforate and point the surface of the square on the outline, offering a joint and transfer area between the space of the square, the surrounding buildings and the Toma Caragiu St.

-a square which makes space, offering a background for a normal life; the movement of the people through the square, their gestures and actions, their spontane appropriation of the space will give it a meaning

-the ruins of the church remain the climax of the project: the altar of the church was and must continue to be the generator point of the space, but also of the modern city core; its presence must be acknowledged by the city and its inhabitants, as it represents another historical layer, extremely important. In order to achieve this, we propose an access to the ruin’s space, in a temporary system, until the final solution of the ruin’s position will be decided in function of the future subway path.

The opening of such a public space is a chance for the city. But a new pavement is not enough for obtaining a modern city center: a wider perspective is needed, at the level of the whole central area of Bucharest, in which the actual gesture can join coherently. This larger strategy also involves, from our point of view:

  • reorienting the perimetrical functions adiacent to the square towards a cultural domanin, open to the public
  • transforming I. Ghica, I. Nistor and E. Quinet in car free areas
  • reclaiming the boulevard for people once per week (from 12pm on Saturday to 12pm on Sunday)