Urban Renewal in Romania
by Violeta Puscasu
Key words: renewal, change,
The urban renewal drives theoretically a preliminary conceptual
clarification: renewal versus change. Temporally and
phenomenologically the renewal is marked by paradigms and political
influences. The article Urban Renewal in Romania propose not only a
radiography of the renewal stages superposed to the major moments of
urban change in Romania, with a closer look to the post-Communist
period ,but also a drawing of urban system perspectives in the
new context of sustainable development.
The division into periods of the evolution of the Romanian urban
phenomenon is based on a sum of elements - physical, morphostructural,
legislative and informational environment - which contribute to the
shaping of a certain level of renewal, subsequently marked by a
typological reorganization. The complexity of the urban growth makes,
however, this typology, in the shape of socio-demo-urbanistic
classifications, captures correctly the morphostructural
classification of Romania towns.
The supporting landmarks of any renewal are elements which are
immediately visible or with ulterior effects on the strategy of
spatial reorganization of a region, but not only necessarily positive.
The way of new urban renewal paradigm applied in Romania are
functionality and sustainability to small urban area and
reconstruction and reintegration to the big urban area.
A focus on the relationship between general and particular aspects
of great urban axes in the future being in subject for the decisions
makers are sintetically presented.
Dr. Violeta Puscasu
University "Dunarea de Jos"
47, Domnaesca street
Tel. +40 3646 0467
Fax. + 40 3646 1353
Urban Renewal in Romania
The urban renewal is a concept which entered the
specialized literature after 1990, at the same time with other new
concepts, with or without a previous correspondent in Romania.
In one way or another, every stage, temporally and
phenomenologically delimited, is a period of renewal as compared to
the previous background, not necessarily correlated to the positive.
2. RENEWAL VERSUS CHANGE
The urban renewal as a trend in planning and
organizing the urban territory has a few defining constant elements
and, obviously, at least a paradigm and at the same time a reference
point which set it on a certain ideologic-pragmatical level and which
differentiate it as for the aspect of aims.
From our horizon of information, a conceptual
discussion on the theme renewal versus change takes place only in the
ivory tower of the consecrated capacities while those who dispose of
the power of acting upon the material context appeal to conjunctural
solutions, avoiding the profound thoroughgoing study of those
uncomfortable themes pertaining to the present.
We personally believe that in Romania took place
and continue to occur at the same time renewal and change, the
specific differences referring to the morphostructural physical
environment of cities, the legislative background, the informational
and registration system, the property, the financing etc.
It is well known that the group of the European
countries in transition, although still facing common characteristics
and recommendations, react with different speed, disponibility and
comprehension to the urban change/renewal.
Further on we shall take a closer look at Romania’s
specific elements in the process of urban renewal for a more proper
integration into the European urban landscape.
3. EVOLUTIVE CONDITIONS
The 20th century brings into the Romanian urbanism
three major moments:
the urbanism of the first half of the 20th
century, where one can notice the coexistence, at the level of the
forms, of an influenced urbanism – Bucharest seen as
"the little Paris" and a local urbanism, with
mixt urban plans and forms.
the urbanism of the Communist period,
manifested at least under three forms, judging by its effects: -
replacement / implant.
this state of facts constitutes at the present
the context of relation of the urban renewal which is a process
previous to the political changes.
the "post- Decembrist urbanism", of
the last ten years, which is totally and wrongly assimilated to a
new era of renewal. The truth is that the insufficient lapse of
time does not allow us to raise some aspects not fully clarified
to the rank of tendency.
In the same note of distinction between renewal and
major change one can identify a sum of successive waves of renewal,
produced in the context of major stages of change (Figure 1).
In the juxtaposed urbanism, realized through the
joining of the new structures to the traditional ones, two centres
have often resulted, almost two different towns within the same built
perimeter. We refer to what is commonly known as "downtown"
/ the new centre, respectively "midtown" / the old centre.
This is the best situation, in which the salvation of valuable
architectural sites – mostly mediaeval – was possible, as it
happened in some cities from the centre and the West of Romania –
Sibiu, Sighişoara, Braşov. The phenomenon is similar to
those from the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany etc.
The infiltrated urban may be considered, as opposed
to the previous category, the most disastrous form of "urban
Under the motto of "blending the new with the
old" and of the "radical urban renewal", but also under
the sign of an acute scarcity of construction materials – not to
mention the scarcity of inspiration, too! – balanced urban
compositions were destroyed, through demolition or isolation.
Most cities and towns have lost their identity and
local colour after the process of "territory and locality
systematization", a process with major deficiences in relation to
the preliminary evaluation which resulted in pshycological and social
lacks of poise in addition to the rest of the shortcomings of this
action (Abraham 1991).
One of the identifying elements of the urbanism of
the Communist period, shaped by a malignant infiltration, is the
"tower-type block of flats", which used to hide slums, old
buildings and surviving churches. The second defining element is the
faulty functional zoning presenting industrial zones in the centre and
reduced recreational sectors or green lungs.
The third manifestation of the urbanism of the
Communist period consists of the urban implant. In spaces without
urban vocation towns or urban structures were founded, which later on
proved their frailty. But this aspect is connected especially to the
macroterritorial urban analysis and to the systems of settlements that
make the object of distinct studies (Ianoş,
4. WAVES OF RENEWAL
In keeping with the proportion and the results
obtained, one can distinguish a number of stages of renewal,
categorically superposed or diluted into the local trends and false
5. RENEWAL AND CHANGE AFTER 1990
The transformation of the town as a whole and of
its internal structures after 1990 is the effect of a deeply changed
juridical system. Most of the norms and institutions which mark out,
directly or indirectly, the activity and the processes of urbanism and
territorial planning are new.
Renewal of the relations
Architecture dominated by simple lines
Replacement of construction materials
Elements of characterization
predominance of State property
coexistence of the actual urbanism and
the conventional one
architecture dominated by simple lines,
lacking any aesthetic
system of settlements with un-balanced
Because their classification according to the
object of settlement is difficult to make for the simple fact that
some of them have only a reduced influence, we sometimes did not even
directly made our option for a chronological display of the most
Law 50/1991 regarding the authorization for
executing the construction and some measures concerning the making
the Government’s Decision regarding the
organization and the functionning of the Ministery of Public
Workings and Territorial Planning.
Law of the Survey and of Real Estate
Law of the Dwelling (114/1996)
the Methodology of noticing the urbanism
documentations and the touristic resorts
the General Urbanism Regulations (552/1996)
On a different area of interests, the privatization
and the retrocession of some real estate and land properties, have
determined an increase of normative documents which have changed the
citizen’s quality and attitude towards property and have stimulated
at the same time his/her initiative.
Most notable are the Law of Land Funds (18/1991)
and the Law of Free Initiative which had an immediate impact, direct
and frequently negative on the urban landscape. In this case, what
should have been a renewal was in fact a transformation of the already
plain and harsh physiognomy of the urban landscape into a mixture of
shapes and styles, of volumes and heights.
The temporal disparity between the adopting of the
laws have allowed in numerous cases an accentuated deterioration of
some spaces, ranging from the proliferation of the inaesthetic
provisory constructions such as booths and stalls to the degradation
of lands and forests.
However, what really represents a change and a
renewal at the same time is the paradigm which governs the urban
policy and acts.
Although Romania finds herself in full process of
searching her own ways of materializing the urban renewal, the
acquired paradigm is the European one – the lasting urbanism.
The future of urban renewal in Romania appears more
in terms of desiderata and imperatives politically conditionned and
less as a mechanism actioned by the community’s decision.
Gusti G., 1974, Forme
noi de aşezare, 210p., Bucharest, Technical Publishing
Ianoş I., 1992, Stabilitate şi
instabilitate în sistemele geografice, 80p., Terra, 1-2.
Ianoş I., Tălângă Cr., 1993, Impactul
prăbuşirii regimului totalitar comunist asupra sistemului
urban românesc, 313p., The Annals of the
University, Bucharest, XLII.
Commission of the European Communities, 1990, Green
Paper on the Urban Environment, Brussels, Commission of the European
Violeta Puşcaşu is Doctor in Geography
since 1998, Lecturer at University "Dunărea de Jos"
from Galatzi, author of three books and more papers and articles
presented in national and international congresses.
Member of A.E.S.O.P., N.I.S.P.A. cee, Romanian
Society of Geography.
University "Dunarea de Jos"
27 March 2000