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Scenarios for the collective housing from the socialist period in Bucharest

October 9, 2009


Magic blocks. Disasters, opportunities, ideas. This is a book about collective housing from the socialist perios in Bucharest that has been published by zeppelin, a project on education and communication designed a few years ago. Magic Blocks, the expo is an exhibition that will be presented in November 2009 at Romanian Peasant Museum in Bucharest. Now, zeppelin has uploaded to their web-site the complete Magic Blocks book, free to download.

Both, exhibition and book are structured following these topics: overview, activation, negotiation, rehabilitation and conclusion. Is interesting to read at their site:

“There is the big city filled with concrete blocks. People call them boxes, very often matchboxes. There are boxes for 2 million dwellers. Most of these blocks of flats present now more than ever an identity problem: you have to ask yourself if they are or not really a part of the city, if people perceive them as urban or not. Looking very much like a background for a white and black, mute movie, Bucharest’s communist streets and blocks are humorous and nostalgic, which results from contrasts, raw ugliness and the decayed buildings jumbled with vernacular operations specific rather to a village than a city, mixing serial and industrialized architectures with personal décor and accessories, posh cars along with derelict ones, and finally showing the same social mixture that has not changed for forty years.”



All along this year 2009 there has been taking action some new initiatives and projects trying to re-discover the socialist architecture in different countries and through this analysis, making the architectural exercise to find new approaches to the changes that all the ex-socialist and ex-soviet countries are living in terms of housing. The project, focused in Bucharets collective housing goes deeper and make a complete overview about the current state of this vast stock of socialist apartment blocks.

Some of the problems are that there are ghettos, because privatisation generated an economic value which needs to be used to activate the rehabilitation process after the city experienced the
huge totalitarian operations that underwent in the 1970s and 1980s. In Bucharest today almost every apartment block has been privatized. Yet the grounds around them are, according to the initial concept, public domain.



We can sumarize their conclusions are in this quote: “Different contexts call for different strategies given the superposition of spatial as much as social differences. Indeed we know very little about these neigbourhoods. The setting of a database is essential. This should comprise information about the neigbourhoods’ social structure, an economic and legal analysis,architectural and urban contexts, all of which would enable well-tailored action plans.”

You can download the whole book, chapter by chapter here.

All images taken from the Magic Blocks book.

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