Between 1944 and 1989, the central areas of many Romanian cities were restructured. This resulted in new urban configurations, new buildings, and relatively new aesthetics, as an expression of “their time” (zeitgeist). Urban restructuring is closely tied to the political factor, and can hardly be dissociated from the socialist-communist political ideology that was in power
throughout this period – reason for which the 1944-1989 time frame (here considered as “post-war”) is often labelled as “communist”, or “socialist”, or “socialist-communist”, or the period of the “communist project” (ZAHARIADE 2011), etc. The political factor was consistently involved in the professional field of architecture and urban planning, in the field of construction works, and in land-use planning. The results were often a compromise between the opinions
of the professionals (the architects) and the opinions of the political decision makers
From the architectural and urban planning production of the target period, the present article mostly follows the restructuring of central urban areas, the representative architecture that was included in these restructuring works, and the architects that influenced the respective constructive events (usually as designers of the ensembles and of the buildings). The term “representative architecture” indicates a specific category of buildings that have a representative
function. These are usually public buildings, such as political-administrative headquarters or so-called houses of culture. When they play a role in the composition of urban ensembles, these usually evolve as focal points and as “VIPs” of the space, enjoying dominant/privileged positions and special architectural treatments.
To some extent, other functions such as theatres, hotels, or department/universal stores can also be included in this category. These buildings would qualify as “special” structures within the encompassing building stock (comprising apartment blocks, for instance), as they participate in the composition of these urban spaces. Often, the presence of a piece of “representative” architecture (in a certain urban space) stimulates that space into also acquiring representativeness. Usually, the new representative architecture that was built in the 1944-1989
time frame can be found in the central area, being usually associated with an open public space in the shape of a square. Other buildings unfold around the square, such as collective housing blocks. They are usually subordinated to the representative architecture.
In this context, the architects who author such “representative” designs, comprising “representative” buildings and ensembles, tend to become the most “representative” architects of the period concerned. The article follows the role that some architects – such as Nicolae PORUMBESCU, Cezar LĂZĂRESCU, or Viorel VOIA – played in the emergence of representative architecture in the post-war period, within the restructuring operations that were carried out in the central areas of some Romanian towns.
Keywords: political-administrative headquarters, civic centre, house of culture, universal store, hotel, housing block