Daily Picture 7-Sep-09: Bucharest Historic Quarter Deterioration

I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

***********************************************

Archaeological diggs, Lipscani historic district, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Unprofessional infrastructure works and long delayed archaeological investigations contribute to the irreversible deterioration of Lipscani historic district of Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Lipscani is the oldest quarter of Bucharest, hosting the remnants of the princely palace initially built by Vlad the Impaler, the first Wallachian ruler who established his capital in the city. The area has traditionally been the commercial heart of Bucharest, with many of its streets named after a particular trade. Its Balkan Ottoman mahalle type buildings undertook in late 19th c. a major architectural transformation to what I call “Little Paris” designs (provincially interpreted decorative mid- and late- 19th c. French styles). That architecture survived two world wars and nearly five decades of communist administration. The last two decades of post-communist transition represent probably one of the most difficult periods in the venerable quarter’s history. Buildings are left to deteriorate or in many instances preyed upon by rapacious real estate developers with total disregard for heritage architecture. The deterioration continues at a very fast pace because of the botched infrastructure works badly administered by the city authorities and commissioned to Sedesa, a cowboy Spanish developer (works started about two years ago!). The already low quality and unprofessional works are further damaged by the very slow moving archaeological investigations required by law. It represents probably the most disastrous case of urban regeneration project in the European Union. The city authorities have shown a blatant incompetence in administering the large funds allocated to these infrastructure works (cca Euro 20 million), plagued in many instances by deep corruption, and are unlikely to successfully finish this important undertaking for the city’s heritage and identity, the future looking increasingly grim.

***********************************************

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.