In June 2020, the Bucharest City Hall put up for public debate their intention phase of elaborating a local urban plan “Construction of the multifunctional complex Știrbei Palace, 107 Calea Victoriei”. The project provoked reactions from civil society due to many issues that seriously affect the quality of the built environment, the protected area and the heritage building.
The main observations made by the Pro Patrimonio Foundation are: the new proposal seriously affects the symbolic image of Știrbei Palace, the PUZ eliminates the historical gardens in front and behind the palace. It has been requested that the proposal be corrected to take into account the following:
Unfortunately, the planner responded to these comments by confirming his intention not to take any of the comments into account. As proof, the consultation notice for the drafting and approval part of the project was launched on September 8th.
the article published by architect Dan Marin “Știrbei Palace Garden or restoration as a mystification of history” on the Contributors website from 8/21/2020.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
In the context of the recent demolition of the building from 22 Frédéric Joliot-Curie Street, Protected built area no. 45 Cotroceni, Pro Patrimonio Foundation sent an open letter addressed to the Minister of Culture, Mr. Bogdan Gheorghiu, and a press release on 7/9/2020.
The signatories of this letter consider it imperative to link legislation, procedures for approval, authorization and control to good European practices for the preservation, restoration and enhancement of evidence of national cultural identity.
Built heritage is a renewable resource. We strongly believe that its in a critical serious nowadays moving quickly towards destruction.
Protected built areas are constantly attacked through the demolition or mutilation of valuable buildings, as well as by new constructions, foreign to the local specificity.
Preserving and valuing heritage is a “long-term investment” which – as international experience has shown – is largely involved in a country’s development.
This letter was signed by 170 personalities, institutions and organizations.
We invite you to join us in signing the Petition to Save Our Heritage.
The In-Herit project, initiated by the National Heritage Institute, runs place 2020 and 2021 within the RO-Culture program with the support of the SEE Grants 2014-2021. The Pro Patrimonio Foundation, project partner, is responsible for creating the online application Salva-Monument, an integral part of the general online platform.
The web application will address the owners of historic buildings, specialists and the general public so that they can be informed about the practical and constructive ways of maintaining, conserving and capitalizing on heritage. An important component of the guide will be the presentation of practical issues regarding approval, documentation, economic or funding issues that may arrise.
All these themes will be presented in a format as accessible as possible, in formulas of expression as simple as possible accompanied by suggestive graphic images. The Salva-Monument Guide will be a content aggregator for heritage.
Romania’s built heritage has been deteriorating, especially in the past 30 years, at a much faster pace than the owners’ ability to rehabilitate, maintain and use them. Society at large is poorly educated and informed about the ways of rehabilitation and maintenance, but also about the possibilities of capitalization of buildings and heritage complexes. However, more and more citizens are looking for information and tools to help them understand how heritage can be activated and revitalized in the context of insufficient collaboration and communication with public administration.
The Pro Patrimonio Foundation aims to create an interactive online platform – the Salva-Monument Guide – which will be integrated into the comprehensive program “In-Herit: National Center for Heritage Information and Promotion” developed by the National Heritage Institute.
The guide will be a support for the owners of historic buildings, specialists, the general public by which they can find practical and constructive ways of maintaining, conserving and capitalizing on heritage – both a cultural resource and an economic resource. The digital platform will also provide a link between citizens and specialists, from various fields – architecture, legal, economic, etc.
We aim to provide active free support for as many common situations as possible in which different categories find themselves in. The foundation receives an average of 10 questions per month on how to save, intervene, finance a historic building. The demands are diverse, but are based on poor public education and an acute lack of public information. In most cases, questions and requests reach the Foundation because public institutions answer vaguely or not at all. Interested citizens do not have at their disposal a simple document from which they can understand what the steps, the response times, the competent authorities and the laws are, as well as how to complete the applications and to whom should they be addressed.
The Salva-Monument guide will address:
In order to build this Guide as representative as possible, we set out to conduct a public consultation through a survey so that we can address as wide a range of possible situations and questions as possible from the public.
The survey in Romanian language only and is open to the public until March 3, 2021
Roşia Montană – Cultural Landscape, Heritage, Environment and Mining
Pro Patrimonio Foundation has been actively involved in efforts to recognize the unique universal value of the historic site of Roşia Montană (Alba County). Among other actions, it supported the financing of the archeology report written in 2010 by British expert archaeologists from Oxford and Leicester universities.
Pro Patrimonio Foundation consistently supported the inclusion of Roşia Montană on the UNESCO heritage list and in 2013 suggested its inclusion in Europe Nostra’s 7 most endangered cultural heritage sites in Europe program.
On 4 January 2017 The Ministry of Culture sent the Roşia Montană Mining Cultural Landscape to UNESCO. Peisajul Cultural Minier Roșia Montană. Submitting the file for the World Heritage list was made with the fully responsible action of Minister of Culture Corina Şuteu, after informing and consulting with Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos and with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The protection of our national heritage is one of the main responsibilities of the Ministry of Culture and falls within its fundamental prerogatives. Roşia Montană’s submission to UNESCO ends a process started in 2011 (when the National Commission of Historic Monuments officially recommended the Ministry of Culture to include Roşia Montană on the UNESCO heritage list) and continued during Dacian Cioloş’s government mandate, adding in February 2016 Roşia Montană to Romania’s Indicative List for UNESCO. ”
(extract, Ministry of Culture, January 4, 2017, https://rosiamontana.world/
Updated news about the ongoing process to include the Roşia Montană Mining Cultural Landscape in the UNESCO World Heritage List, its stages and evolution can be found at https://rosiamontana.world/, , a website implemented by the Romanian National Heritage Institute.
Pro Patrimonio Foundation gives some brief info on this subject (1999-2013):
A private company (Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, abbreviated to RMGC) has conceded the right of exploitation from the Romanian state and proposes an open-pit mining project. The project was proposed in 1999, and has not yet been able to obtain the necessary legal clearing and approvals to start work. Why? Because the project does not comply with the Romanian legislation, because it represents a great threat to the environment and because much of the exploitation would take place on private property plots. The history of this project and the notices canceled in Court http://rosiamontana.org/node/291
The silence of the press well as the acceptance of the project by politicians were bought by the private company. http://stirile.rol.ro/rosia-montana-cati-bani-a-primit-presa-de-la-rmgc-in-ultimii-ani-889925.html
what televisions are advertising the mining project
Here are some comments and remarks about press reports
Foreign press reports http://totb.ro/protestele-pentru-rosia-in-presa-straina/
What has civil society been doing these past years?
Alburnus Maior is the association of locals and owners from Roşia Montană established in September 2002 to organize planned steps to stop the mining project proposed by RMGC. Through its ongoing work, Alburnus Maior coordinates what is today the largest social and environmental campaign in Romania. In support of this, many organizations, institutions, artists, journalists, as well as members of civil society of all ages and from social status in Romania and abroad have joined together.
In addition to campaigns for public information, monitoring of authorities, protests and legal actions, the Fân Fest Festivals are being promoted annually to promote the values of the area http://www.fanfest.ro/
What began as a protest festival in 2004, FânFest has become a distinct cultural space in support of environmental and social rights and the sustainable development of Roşia Montană – thus becoming the emblem of social and environmental movements in Romania over the last decade.
Adopt a Roşia Montană House is a program to rescue the cultural heritage and the traditional community in Roşia Montană and the neighboring villages. The program is initiated by Alburnus Maior, the local association dedicated to protecting the rights of Roşia Montană community members in partnership with ARA – Architecture. Restoration. Archeology, an active association in the field of research, conservation and value of cultural heritage for the benefit of communities and society.
In 2013, Roşia Montana was included in Europe Nostra’s 7 Most Endangered program. The file that was the basis of the joint proposal of the signing organizations, assumed by Europa Nostra and the partner banks by including them on the 7 monuments list includes a structured action plan in 10 different directions to which concrete projects correspond. The plan aims to contribute effectively to preserving the cultural heritage of the site through research and documentation, through direct conservation and correct value assessment. The planned actions, together with the involvement of the local community, will generate a huge impact both on the professional fields and on the public at local, national and international level. The plan will help maintain and increase community revenue while protecting biodiversity and the value of internationally recognized habitats that have sustained the traditional community.
What began street protests on September 1, 2013
POn 27 August 2013 the government approved the draft law related to measures regarding to the gold-silver mining exploitation in the Roşia Montană perimeter and the stimulation and facilitation of development of mining activities in Romania.
See the draft Here
Here you can read the opinion of the Ministry of Justice on this bill, which states that the project “contains just as many restrictions of citizens’ rights, restrictions for whose lawfulness is a justification compatible with the conditions provided by the fundamental law”
At least 20 points inlaw repeating the phrase “by exception / derogation from legal directives” make this project unconstitutional and particularly dangerous
The map of protests started on 1 September 2013
See here the claims of the protesters: LINK
Former Concordia Hotel in Bucharest, a Forgotten Place in Modern Romanian History
Pro Patrimonio Foundation and the Bucharest Branch of the Order of Architects in Romania together with intellectuals and cultural institutions drew attention through a public campaign sustained annually since 2013 to the state of degradation the former Concordia Hotel Hotel in Bucharest is sin, the place where on 23 January 1959, Alexandru Ioan Cuza was elected president of Wallachia after having been elected president of Moldova on 5 January. The 1852 building included on the list of historical monuments of Bucharest 2010 under no. 2025, code LMI B-II-m-B-19708, is a private property and in an advanced state of ruin despite the numerous efforts of recent years made by the civil society, intellectuals, artists, journalists and architects.
In 2013 architect Şerban Sturdza underlined that the civil society is directly responsible for the fate of buildings and historical areas because they are our common inheritance, so we can’t stand by and wait for problems to fix themselves. “The people who represent the Municipality must be forced in a direct but not discreet manner to do their job, and with regard to the Historic Center, the work is not finished simply because we can go there during the summer and have a beer at the terraces on the buildings’ ground floor. This glitter of civilization relates only to pleasure and to a dose of irresponsibility, because, in parallel, efforts necessary to keep these buildings standing are not being made. This matter of the protection of historic buildings is a big lie. We protect the area, but no house is protected, it’s absurd “he declared.
At the request of Pro.Do.Mo. Asociația and Pro Patrimonio Foundation, in 2016 the international organization World Monuments Fund nominated Bucharest among the world’s most endangered historical sites. The WMF chooses sites and heritage objectives that have international urban value and has been interested in saving worldwide architectural and cultural heritage for over 50 years.
The capital of Romania has been nominated for the category “Historic Center in Danger” on the 2016 World Monuments Watch list due to demolition or abandonment of heritage buildings, uncontrolled development and destructive rehabilitation interventions. As a result, the city has been included in a monitoring program regarding public policies for heritage protection. The imminent risk of a massive earthquake jeopardizes most of the city’s heritage buildings.
On 3 March 2017, Watch Day 2017 focused on a call to action for the Capital, facing imminent threats and challenges from the perspective of heritage vulnerability and seismic risk. The event had two components: Watch Day – Vulnerable Bucharest – Debate. Book Launch and Watch Night – Vulnerable Bucharest, informal meeting – Book launch, movies and experiences..
Bucharest, the European capital with the highest seismic risk, abounds, especially in its central area, in buildings with a grade I seismic risk, which implies an imminent collapse at the first major earthquake. In the case of an earthquake like the one in 1977, today’s Bucharest would lose a large number of modernist blockhouses and nineteenth-century houses that sheltering thousands of people today. The human, material and city losses would be major (see http://blog.seismic-alert.ro/).
As an example, Magheru Boulevard is itself an archive of modernist buildings with an internationally recognized cultural and architectural value. 15 historical monument buildings, 9 buildings with a class I seismic, 5 buildings with a class II seismic, 65,000 sqm of built environment in danger, 150,000 sqm area in danger, 2000+ inhabitants, 5000+ people in daily transit are figures that outline the current situation of boulevard.
Here’s an awareness-raising film made by Pro Patrimonio Foundation, World Monuments Fund and Association Pro.Do.Mo.:
World Monuments Watch is a global program launched in 1996 aiming to attract international attention to cultural heritage sites around the world. The program provides an opportunity for nominated sites to raise public awareness, promote local participation, encourage innovation and collaboration, and highlight alternative solutions.
Watch Day 2017 – Vulnerable Bucharest was organized by the Romanian Center for Innovation in Local Development (Centrul Român pentru Inovație în Dezvoltare Locală)), MKBT: Make Better, the Order of Architects in Romania – Bucharest Branch, with initiators Pro.Do.Mo and Pro Patrimonio.
At the end of 2010, Bucharest City Hall decided to start works for the North-South Diameter, based on the Local Urban Plan for the Buzeşti-Berzei-Uranus Diameter. The demolitions have brought back painful memories to the inhabitants of Bucharest, especially through the way they were implemented (executed at night, without dismantling the valuable pieces to be reused fully or as materials, with the evacuation of the inhabitants in winter). The prerequisites for the project were fluency and increase of car traffic transit without the analysis of the consequences on the overall mobility, ignoring the complex reality of life and living in the neighborhood.
The Matache area, in the center of Bucharest, has undergone dramatic and radical changes that have left their mark on the community leaving its neighborhood and heart, the historical monument Matache Hall (demolished overnight on 25 March 2013), in a state of social and economic disintegration. Civil society actions against the demolition of historical monuments drew attention to the need to regenerate and integrate the project, to modernize streets with more complex projects aiming to revitalize urban and social tissue.
Currently, the area is abandoned by the administration and looks as a huge unhealed wound.
Pro Patrimonio Foundation has been involved in rescuing the area and Matache Hall, and suggested hands-on solutions for urban regeneration and dialogue with the administration. Two witness-lines were born.
The first is the volume Who is afraid of the Matache neighborhood? Principles of urban regeneration for the Matache area – North Railway Station in Bucharest (Pro Patrimonio 2012), a manifest book, a project book, a book witness to a concentrated urban activism phenomenon, that imagines that anyone can have an initiative and suggest solutions for neighborhoods and cities. At the time of the book’s release, February 2012, the North-South Diameter operation seemed to be far from over and there was hope for Hala Matache to remain standing (unfortunately, it would be demolished on 25 March 2013). The volume created by Mirela Duculescu was awarded the ex aequo national prize for the book section, the National Architecture Biennial 2012.
The full text of the book is available here: Matache link
The second direction is the 2016 documentary film by Dragoș Lumpan Matache. Berzei-Buzeşti ,based on an dense material. Changes in the area are captured in filming, timelapse, and photos taken between 2010 and 2016. The film includes interviews with architects, urban planners, anthropologists, and representatives of the civil society, residents and merchants in the area, former mayor of Bucharest, Sorin Oprescu, and archive images. The film provides an objective perspective on a specific urban tissue, and is an example and case study for other cities facing similar situations. The film benefited from the financial support of the National Cultural Fund Administration and received the AFCN Award for Innovation in the Promotion of Architectural Heritage in 2016.
Follow this link for news about the film and project (work in progress) Platforma Matache.
George Enescu House in Mihăileni and Neamţu Manor in Olari – Educational Centers for Local Communities
Casa George Enescu din Mihăileni și Conacul Neamţu din Olari, centre educaționale pentru comunitățile locale
Ghidul Salva-Monument. Un proiect în cadrul „In-Herit – Centrul național de informare și promovare a patrimoniului cultural”.
Salva-Monument Guide. A project within “In-Herit – National Center for Information and Promotion of Cultural Heritage”.
Forgotten Textures: Inter-war Bucharest. Plastering Recipe Book, Pro Patrimonio 2019/ second edition, 2021/ [excerpt]
Who’s Afraid of the Matache Neighbourhood? Principles of Urban Regeneration for the Matache Area – Bucharest North Railway Station / Pro Patrimonio 2012
Education for heritage. Guide to ideas and explorations for the built and natural heritage and crafts / Pro Patrimonio 2019