- The Place: from FORM to inFORMation   click here to open paper content64 kb
by    Baroncea, Justin & Popescu, Carmen & null, null | justinarch2000@yahoo.com   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline


TITLE: The Place: from FORM to inFORMation
-recuperation of places in Bucharest and Berlin-

WHAT IS IT ABOUT: The object of our study is the area that constitutes the object of the international competition Bucarest 2000” ( the central area of Bucarest, destroyed in the 80s in order to build a new civic centre), and especially the places of the demolished and displaced monuments and landmarks.
We will try to make an analysis of the ways” of urban reweaving in a (large) destroyed (destructured) urban area. From this point of view we shall make a comparison between the cases of Bucharest and Berlin – an analysis of the methods used in order to recuperate the identity of a city (and of the results, as far as we can see them) by reweaving process.

SESSION: 1: One. Cultural Identity and Spatial Segregation
2: Four. Open Platform

HOW ARE WE INVOLVED: Before we began to study the case of Bucharest from a theoretical point of view, we were involved in various projects and competitions regarding the urban renewal (regeneration) of its central area and won the first prize in the students’ section of the Bucharest 2000” competition. From 1996, we have been involved, together with the urban planners of the University of Architecture in Bucharest, in developing preliminary studies for the masterplan. Currently, we are studying for a Ph. D. in Barcelona and we are now trying to broaden the field of application of our previous knowledge.

Bucharest lost between 1980 and 1989 the fifth part (in surface) of the central area, the historical (old) town. They used to say at the time that the town will never recuperate this loss. It all happened because of a big scale intervention, aimed to build a new civic centre” at the very heart of the city.
Almost all of the demolished buildings had at least environmental value; some had an important value as architectural or historical monuments. In almost every case, the monuments were destroyed without previous announce (they didn’t want to raise -useless-controversies).
About the churches disappeared or affected in some way in the 80s there were published some books, but none of them with an analytical (critic) approach. They are either mere reports about the facts or short histories of the respective places.
Five churches were displaced from their original site in order to make place for the new buildings and to be hidden behind some tall building rows (fronts). In three of these cases, the original site is (fortunately) still free, without construction, so its recuperation is still (really) possible. In two cases (Mihai Voda and Schitul Maicilor), the monastery dependencies have disappeared completely. We can only hope to reinterpret them in order to give back to the place a part of its lost identity.
The displacement of churches can be visualised in a peculiar way: the traces are there, the tracks left by the machines and equipments that moved them are still there, connecting the two places – the initial and the final one. Both places need to be analysed before we can find a viable solution for the urban recuperation and regeneration.

The international competition Bucharest 2000” was organised in 1996. There were over 350 participant projects; the jury included figures like Kenneth Frampton, Vittorio Gregotti, Claude Vasconi, Fumihiko Maki, Josep Martorell and Sarah Topelson. Richard Rogers and Jeff Kipnis took part as competitors; the winner was Meinhard von Gerkan. Five years later, his project still has begun to be put into practice. But even so, the competition generated a lot of discussions and hypothesis about the urban regeneration, renewal and about the ontological problem of the urban identity in the year 2000. I thing that all these dissertations are a good material for my study, an excellent starting point.
The projects and the competition results have been published in a lot of magazines, books, individual monographies, etc. I added to this documentation some examples, a few projects extracted from the AD collection, the competition catalogue and a few other books. In most of the cases, the competitors didn’t take into account the history of the place, although it was presented in the (very detailed) theme dossier. Actually, the theme itself was responsible for this attitude, because it didn’t state explicitly the importance of these places; it only mentioned in a few words the recuperation of Mihai Voda.
The participant teams are related to the vanguard trends of the last 5-6 years: new metabolists, designers of virtual space, the new scientific vision (catastrophic theory, fractal design, chaos theory). The results are quite interesting, but they didn’t change much the destiny of the place. It is still a strange place, a foreign element into the urban system, a collection of discontinuity spots (catastrophic spots according to René Thom).
Some projects (the winning project is one of them) try, without success, to reweave, to link again the place(s). They part from the trace, but neglect the scale of the old places of these demolished or displaced churches. They didn’t understand that the trace does not exist only in a topography plan.

Our study is an analysis of the places of lost monuments (these places in Bucharest which I described before) seen as links (connections) -at a physical level- between the past structure and the future structure of the destructured urban area, and as landmarks (referents, background marks) –at a signification level- for the new directions in architecture and urban design.
I want to prove that these places are essential for any attempt of reweaving the urban tissue, in the same way they were in the case of Berlin. The competitions of architecture and urban design grouped under the slogan Berlin Tomorrow” offer an interesting data base: some of the world’s most famous architects participated, giving their view of about how can we recuperate the identity of a place, how can we reconstruct the identity of a city. I intend to analyse a few selected projects of the participants, and, of course, the results of the competition, from the theoretical point of view exposed before.
The concept of trace” used by Paul Ricoeur and Jacques Derrida is the key to our theoretical approach of the place as khora. The key-words of this theoretical approach of the place are: time, space, khora (as suspension of the relation space-time), trace (the absolute place as a trace), memory (the memory of the place). We have to discover the dianoia that stands behind the trace, that determines the Place as place. I will try to prove that this one possible way of working with traces (especially with the khora”, the place in memory” or the memory of the place”).

I intend to study the evolution of Potsdamer Platz, the relation of the actual space with the past and with the recent past, when it was submitted to complete destruction (the urban wound of the Berlin Wall is a case similar to Bucharest in many ways).
Study cases: Bucharest and Berlin - places of demolished and displaced monuments (landmarks).
The concept of trace (Ricœur, Derrida), the place as khora; key-words: khôra, trace, memory.
Three projects for Bucharest: Radu Negulescu (Mihai Voda), Radu Enescu (Schitul Maicilor), Justin Baroncea (Vacaresti Monastery).
khora, memory, place
click here to open paper content  Click to open the full paper as pdf document
click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper  Click to send an email to the author(s) of this paper