Bucharest has one of the highest population densities in Europe. The urban planning centred on the citizen’s needs has never been a priority for the authorities of this city. A majority from among its nearly 3 million inhabitants are poorly educated, first and second generation former peasants from the Romanian countryside that sill retain in many aspects a medieval mental set up. That fact is reflected in the general lack of preoccupation for a balanced healthy habitat, which includes restoring the architectural heritage of the city to its former glory or protecting and extending its parks and green spaces.
Because these green areas are so sparse and the population so huge, there is customary for the authorities not to allow public access on the grass lawns. That is typically advertised using small billboards placed next to or on the grass plot informing of the relevant city council bylaw forbidding access and warning the passer-by about the heavy penalty meted out to all those that dare stepping on the grass.
As a result of the huge influx of half-literate new dwellers originating in the countryside, unable to comprehend the old billboards’ written information, the city council has come up with a new and amusing sign design, which I recently encountered in the Gradina Icoanei area. The message conveyed by the two crossed over bare foot soles is indeed plain obvious and adequate to the actual dismal literacy level of the average citizen, producing better results that the previous scripted signs. (©Valentin Mandache, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.viapontica.com)