December 22, 1989 marked not only the fall of the Ceaușescu regime, but also the end of the megalomaniac communist project to demolish and then rebuild Romanian cities. Thirty years on, the collective memory of these destructions is fading away, while the aggression against the cities continues, even in an opposite paradigm – that of ultraliberal development.
Forgetting (sometimes voluntary) can intensify a revisionist discourse, which justifies those brutal demolitions by the need to “modernize”. The same discourse then programmatically applies to the destructions and excessive building we witness today.
Under these circumstances, we believe that neither nostalgic accounts, nor the display of archives and other records as such are no longer enough. Therefore, through the proposed project we intend to take a step forward towards a symbolic and analytical re-enactment of an erased urban reality.
We concentrate the almost completely destroyed Uranus neighbourhood, the very place the occupied by Ceaușescu’s Palace (now the seat of the Parliament) and several other totalitarian buildings. But we also talk about the context, the general project and other brutal urban replacements, including recent ones in Bucharest.
The keyword is co-presence: overlaying today’s reality on the erased past reality. And this will be achieved not only for houses, churches, schools, streets and gardens, but also for people and their stories. Using 3D and physical models and installations, we aim to symbolically bring back to life the demolished buildings into today’s world.
The main goal of our project goes beyond remembering and honouring those who suffered, resisted or documented this tragedy: it is also about promoting a more balanced and responsible urban development for the present.
URANUS NOW is a project about the living history and the community spirit, about the sometimes invisible connections between periods of history that might appear radically different.
Contents and activities
1. We are conducting historical and architectural research, an online archive about the Uranus-Izvor area (broadly the area between Splaiul Independenței, Piața Constituției, Piața Regina Maria, Calea Rahovei, Strada Izvor).
The archive contains new historical images and plans, as well as summaries or excerpts from other researches, also conversations with former residents or witnesses of the events.
All the information will be presented as such, in a structured way, but we will provide interpretations of the data too. Among others, we are working on a 3D model of the area: a 3D two-layer model of the area, superimposing the reality pre-existing Ceaușescu’s intervention today’s cityscape.
The archive will be available free on the e-zeppelin platform.
2. An indoor exhibition was organised at the National Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibition presents a selection of the documentation described above, as well as film screenings, fragments of the demolished buildings, items provided by the residents of Uranus, etc. One of the main elements in the exhibition is a two-layer physical model of the past reality superimposed on the present-day one.
*Photo: Vlad Dumitrescu
3. An outdoor exhibition consisted of a series of temporary installations mounted in the public space and on the property of some institutions in the area.
The installations are to be found in the public space until June 5th, 2020 and take form of 1:1 scale models made of light materials. They replicate fragments of the demolished constructions and were placed into the public space on the exact former locations of the buildings.
4. The exhibition was accompanied by a round table and events for children (in partnership with De-a Arhitectura Association). Undergraduates of the Ion Mincu University of Architecture were involved in creating the digital archive, projects, and actual constructions.
*The archeology of the urban memory. A restored plan of the former neighbourhood superimposed over the current situation (detail). None of the old elements in the picture survived (the church, the streets, the houses).
Uranus Now. Exhibition, digital archive and public space installations
ORGANIZERS: Zeppelin, Ideilagram, Ordinul Arhitecţilor din România – OAR – Filiala
EXHIBITION: National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest – MNAC, 17.10.2019 – 12.01.2020
PARTNERS: MNAC Bucharest, The Romanian Academy, “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest
ONLINE ARCHIVE, PROJECT INFO (RO): e‑zeppelin.ro/uranus‑acum
THIS CULTURAL PROJECT IS SUPPORTED BY:
Romanian Order of Architects through the Architectural Stamp Duty
The Administration of the National Cultural Fund—AFCN.
SPONSORS: Saint-Gobain Rigips, Valachorum
CONCEPT, CURATORS: Dorothee Hasnaș, Ștefan Ghenciulescu
DESIGN COORDINATION, CURATOR: Ilinca Păun-Constantinescu
URBAN AND ARCHITECTURAL RESEARCH, EXHIBITION CONCEPT, DESIGN: Dorothee Hasnaș, Ilinca Păun Constantinescu, Ștefan Ghenciulescu, Tudor Constantinescu, Gabriela Belcineanu, Iulia Păun, Alexandru Păun
HISTORIC, SOCIOLOGIC AN URBAN RESEARCH: Oana-Valentina Suciu, Iris Șerban, Irina Tulbure, Andrei-Răzvan Voinea, Mihai Burcea
INTERVIEWS: Oana-Valentina Suciu, Iris Șerban, Dorothee Hasnaș
COLLABORATORS INTERVIEWS: Silvia Schechter, Ioana Olaru, Anca Sandu, Andrei Bulearcă
EXPERTS: Hanna Derer, Peter Derer, Nicolae Lascu, Sorin Vasilescu
GRAPHIC DESIGN: Radu Manelici, Max Gruenwald (Faber Studio)
FILMS, EDITING: Alexandru Păun
RESEARCH COLLABORATION, PLANS RECONSTRUCTION, 3D MODEL: Ana Băbuș, Anca- Bardan, Bogdan Diaconu, Teo Neagu, Diana Necula, Octavian Dragoș Puiu, Andrei Subțirică, Anastasia David Limona, Andrei Badea
INHABITANTS, WITNESSES INTERVIEWED: Crenguța Roșu, Dinu Suciu, Liviu Tofan, Paul Drogeanu, Dan Perry, Iulian A., Horia Marinescu, Tudor Marinescu, Sorin Vasilescu, Peter Derer, Emanuel Tânjală, Rodica Scafeș, Dinu Bumbăcea, Cristian Preda, Dumitru Belu, Mircea Stroe, Nicolae Olaru, Alexandru Mexi, Cristian Zaharia, Musi Tudor Vespremeanu, Radu Stroe, Beatrice Jöger, George Calalb, Persida Bucur (Kipper), Ligia Livadă, Mariana Avanu-Bulei, Ozana Nicolau, Ecaterina Băndărău, Raluca Bibiri
NEW AND ARCHIVE PHOTOS: Andrei Bîrsan, Șerban Hasnaș, Alexandru Panaitescu, Dan Perry, Ștefan Tuchilă, Sorin Vasilescu, Cristian Zaharia, Agerpress, archives of the dwellers of Uranus, other personal and institutional archives
INSTALLATION STRUCTURAL DESIGN: Adrian Brânzoiu, Ștefan Ruste & Ioana Avram
GYPSUM ORNAMENTS: Neta Popescu, Florin Ciobanu, Marian Ciobanu, Florin Stanciu, Ionică Florea
CONSTRUCTION TEAM: George Tănase, Daniel Dafina, Marian Dorobanțu, Iulian Galați, Ionuț Agache, Gabriel Cazan
EXHIBITION PRODUCTION: XDesign, Atelier Vast
VOLUNTEERS FOR THE INSTALLATIONS AND THE MOUNTING OF THE EXHIBITION: Andrei Badea, Luana Ionașcu, Cristina Ginara, Anca Maria Păsărin, Lucia Spinoiu, Laura Dinu, Vladimir Nicula, Iulian Eremia, Mihnea Tudor, Iris Șerban, Antonia Panaitescu, Laura Paraschiv, Bogdan Rădulescu, Ioana Naniș, Andrada Oncescu, Nadia Oltea Constantinescu, Casian Cosma, Laura Paraschiv, Lorena Brează, Bianca Andreea Ivașcu, Ioana Manu
SPECIAL THANKS: Răzvan Theodorescu, Tomnița Florescu, Anca Oroveanu, Georgiana Ghenciulescu, Marius Andruh, Ștefan Bâlici, Laura Bursuc, Andu Păun, Ioan Erhan, Cristian Zaharia, Șerban + Marina Hasnaș, Ruxandra Dumitrescu, Alexandru Nicolae
Panaitescu, Monica Grecu, Gabriela Ghircoias, Irina Hasnaș, Sonia Irimescu, Alexandra Chiliman Juvara, Cristina Ionescu, Dragoș Marian, Ligia Marian, Cristi I. Popescu, Silviu Munteanu, Coca Stroe, Paul Buchert, Alex Mexi