Eco-rehab Bucharest

February 2010
International workshop – UAUIM, Bucharest, Romania
In collaboration with: Alexandra Blanch(ES), Guido Granelle(IT), Melanie Lutzler(FR)

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Sustainable development must respond to the real needs of city and to its economic, social and infrastructural present state. Bucharest possesses problems on virtually all levels, from the lack of public spaces to the chronic deficiency of the traffic. Starting from an under-dog position in relation to other European Union capitals, the city is obliged to start looking for solutions.

This proposition, started initially from the idea of solving a dysfunctional housing neighborhood in the 3rd district, quickly realized that mere make-up of the public alleys or the facades would never solve, but solely delay the need for a more drastic intervention.

Despite numerous setbacks, Romania’s capital is also filled with good surprises, usually hidden away and just waiting to be rediscovered. This was the case also in this situation and the answer came from an unusual place. An evident solution to the redeveloping  of such large housing area, that plague vast areas in the Bucharest region, comes from obsolete, forgotten, ignored spaces: the industrial areas. Usually conveniently tucked in between the housing neighborhoods, these decaying and mostly abandoned areas posses the terrain (mostly belonging to the state) and the infrastructures (an entire industrial railway system) needed to sustain a successful massive redevelopment.

The 10km/hour average speed with which a car travels in Bucharest is the result of a constant movement towards and from the city center. An idea arises stating that secondary urban centers appear as an alternative that would reduce the traffic by canceling the absolute necessity to arrive in the center. Also, inserting life and mixity through private economic investments and infrastructural mobility-related initiatives would undoubtedly have a lasting and positive impact on the housing ensembles.  And when these centers could easily be inserted in the already highlighted industrial areas, and conveniently positioned amongst crowded neighborhoods, the realism of this long-term goal becomes reinforced.

As a lesson from the previous erratic development of transitioning cities, planning must be at the core of any new initiative. The state, unable to such ambitions plans must heavily rely on private investments but it is his duty to both provide incentives for the private sector and prove capable of the responsibilities entrusted by the citizens in the coming up with solutions that not only aim at commercial profit but also at improving the general quality of life. The reflection of economic success should be interlinked with notions regarding the quality of space and surrounding environment. For a second time, Bucharest reveals hidden or ignored highly qualitative potential areas fitting a so called ‘green-spine’ development. The combination of economic and natural factors, present in the vicinity of the case-study housing area prove the immense potential of the south east of Bucharest as the preferred future area of urban development.

In this concept-project we are trying to bring forward the advantages of such a solution and the impact it would have on various scales in the city. The positioning of several new train-stations linked to the already existing industrial railway system would ensure metropolitan mobility and transport of goods if combined with a new tram line belt that interconnects all the housing neighborhoods with each other. Also, through the encouragement of privately funded new commercial activity areas that follow sustainable development policies, frequent today in the European Union, we are hoping in creating an ideal model for the redevelopment of previously mono-functional dormitory areas of the city.

The aim of such an ambitious, reproducible urban experience hopes to tackle many of the delicate problems of the city. Creating pleasant neighborhoods to live in, sufficient and coordinated green areas, and proximity to busy, lively, urban centers, independent of a presently overcrowded center, would all be addressed by this highly infrastructural-related solution with the goal of delivering a package of answers to the many questions currently present in the debate regarding the future of this city.

(click to enlarge)

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Local impact of proposed development on the studied neighborhood