Building Urbanity in Bucharest

by

Hanna Derer

translated by

Magda Teodorescu

Keywords

  • urban image
  • planned and spontaneous development
  • urban fabric
  • building regulations
  • density
  • Bucharest

The way Bucharest has been seen by Central and Western Europeans has always been important for the modern development of the city, especially since its character has for a long time been considered as having less of a town and more of a village. Likely, this peculiar opinion (together with other material conditions) has been at the basis of the apparent unconditional adoption of models and features specific to the Western standard, starting with the second half of the 19th century. The same opinion has also been shared by the inhabitants.

This paper describes the evolution of two old streets in Bucharest, thus offering samples of the specific transformation undergone by the whole city from a spontaneous to a regulated type of development; it is a testimony to a nuanced process where partial adjustments simultaneously modernized the city without changing it completely and succeeded in shaping its own, genuine personality. The two case studies are based on larger researches meant to substantiate future interventions in the protected areas of the city; they approach the issue of the urban tissue as a feature of urbanity (the urban tissue being seen as the physical form taken by local urban culture). The case studies focus on the changes in urban fabric at the advent of modern planning, and on the manner these changes are mirrored in the urban image. This option is motivated not only by the fact that, usually, most of the judgments on a town are defined simply by the way in which it is seen, but also by the imminence of the moment, as Bucharest is once again about to change its looks, primarily on the account of real estate speculations tending to dramatically increase building density.