Challenging the Solidity of Romanian
Communist Civic Centers

Sorin Vasile Manea
Mihaela Hărmănescu


public space
During the communist period in Romania, the construction of civic centers was one of the favorite topics of the restructuring of cities.
Built by demolishing the old city centers or by adding to them, the civic center is a new urban fabric, created and erected as a result of political will. On a theoretical basis, the concept of the civic center proposed the combination of formal, configurative-spatial aspects, with elements of functionality, thus creating the place of manifestation of social life. In practice, however, they are subject to political command. As such the urban public squares often become spaces subordinated to political and administrative programs. In this sense, the urban public space, in particular the public square, loses its social character and becomes the backdrop of the typical political manifestations of the age.
After the fall of communism, starting with the 1990’s, against the background of the rejection of the past and the economic decline, in the absence of adequate urban policies, civic centers are ignored and left outside the integrated, unitary, urban investment projects. Consequently, many separate, unconcerted interventions occur leading to alterations of both the design of the public space and to a certain extent, that of the buildings themselves.
Originally built as a statement for the communist society, these civic centers are today part of different reality to which they must conform. The article focuses on the transformations that have taken place in the civic centers and especially on the surfaces of public spaces themselves since their establishment.
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Manea, Sorin Vasile, and Mihaela Hărmănescu. “Challenging the Solidity of Romanian Communist Civic Centers.” studies in History and Theory of Architecture, no. 10 (2022): 179-188.