(University Spiru Haret, Bucharest, Romania)

Outline: The rehabilitation of the historic centre of Bucharest brought to light valuable fragments of medieval, modern and contemporary structures as they had been successively covered in time. The latest excavations in the city centre known as the University Square revealed the scope of one of the most important religious and cultural centres of Bucharest. The findings contained valuable information for the whole ensemble of the early 19th century, as well as other important layers dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

A project of a parking-garage to be built on this precise location prompted the swift demolition of all findings, inflicting an irreparable loss for the city’s historic and cultural memory.

Abstract: Contemporary examples around the world bear witness to ways in which historic buildings and ensembles have been integrated in contemporary urban structures.

The major objective of our paper, by presenting the latest cases of demolishing important urban and architectural vestiges of Bucharest, is  to raise the awareness of all parties involved (authorities, responsible bodies, professionals associations, inhabitants) of the importance of preserving the historic and cultural heritage of the capital city of Romania. The excavations unearthed a vast religious and cultural ensemble which comprised the first university of Bucharest located in the Monastery Sfantul Sava (one of the main academies in the Balkans in the first half of the 19th century), as well as valuable remnants of houses, churches and a necropolis. They also revealed the original layout of the streets’ structure, before modernisation in the 20th century. They are all part of the particular historic and cultural imprint of Bucharest among European cities.

We aim to raise a number of questions and to invite reflection on:

  • how to avoid irreversible actions in the future (demolition) where important benchmarks of the cultural patrimony are concerned;
  • therefore it is necessary to increase the transparency of decisions, in the respect of legality (in accordance with the official listing of monuments);
  • how to balance private investment criteria, the preservation of the national built patrimony and the quality interests of the  urban community at large;
  • how to secure and preserve historic sites as initial points in the upgrading processes of the city

Most important is to strengthen the inter-professional collaboration between archaeologists, architects, landscape specialists and engineers in analysing the potential of valorisation of cultural/historic patrimony in the contemporary urban structure.

Keywords: historic centre of Bucharest, cultural and historic patrimony, listed buildings, urban structure