Urban Spaces 2 / Mumuleanu Building 14 / ADNBA
Text description provided by the architects. The central areas of Bucharest are today facing rapid and somewhat chaotic densification. While we believe that density can, and often should, be seen as a form of sustainability, we also recognize that the relationship between inhabiting an old urban fabric and increasing its density is often fragile, because places can lose their character. Our project seeks an appropriate response to this problem by mediating between different sizes and densities in a central neighborhood with small streets, long and narrow plots, and a jigsaw of old and new buildings of all types and scales, not far from the socialist intervention of a large boulevard and its “curtain” of tall buildings.
The project is built on Barbu Mumuleanu Street on a long, narrow and irregular plot. The proposal consists of a succession of 7 house-like volumes, a community of 20 unique apartments placed along a garden. The elongated volume extends along the deep plot and remains connected to the street by an access courtyard that runs along the western boundary of the site. To the east of the plot, the long and irregular strip of land is cut into a succession of private gardens. Between these two narrow gardens are all the dwellings and their rooms, opening their doors and windows to both, receiving both morning and afternoon sun.
The personalization of access and the double orientation of the units are characteristics borrowed from the “wagon” dwelling, a typical dwelling model of the old central districts of Bucharest. Thus, on the ground floor, duplex apartments are accessible directly from the common garden, like a series of maisonettes. On the second floor, an exterior corridor runs along the entire building, becoming a real “alley”, through which you can access all the apartments on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The common garden to the west and the small private gardens to the east are reproduced above by means of winter gardens – loggias with movable glass roofs – which allow all the apartments, on the ground floor or above, to benefit from the same spatial sequence.
The project thus seeks to work with a local typology and the character of the neighborhood by adjoining and nesting housing units with individual accesses and by introducing a diversity of relationships with the outside through porches, gardens, terraces and the raised walkway. In order to articulate the project on the scale of the neighborhood, the mass of the building is fragmented into volumes of different heights, as an attempt to connect the new building to the old ones and to protect the urban fabric, while allowing light to pass through to the neighbors.
At the same time, the project sought to reclaim plaster as a simple yet beautiful facade material. A widespread and rich technique in the historical architecture of Bucharest, it has almost disappeared recently, the city being arbitrarily clad in colored polystyrene. The plastering was applied and finished manually – all minor errors were left visible precisely because they enhance the beauty of the material. We believe that such “syncopations” complement the expressiveness of design and can recover some of the lost qualities of craftsmanship.