СANactions: What are the specificities of urban planning in Romanian cities?
Tiberiu and Benjamin We could name three basic factors, which influenced urban planning in Romania after 1990, without them necessarily being country specific:
1. A process of administrative and political decentralization. The disappearance of public planning departments and institutes led to professional outsourcing;
2. Privatization of decision making against the backdrop of emerging markets and of weakened public supervision over initiative and resources;
3. Import of professional know-how and guidelines along with legislation reform, especially after joining the EU.
What are the difficulties of the work of architects in redeveloping post-socialist environment?
Many of the recurring difficulties are related to the official framework that we are working in:
* representatives of local administrations are often less than perfectly prepared and overworked;
* norms and laws are in a process of constant alteration, leading to a lack of predictability and affecting especially long term development projects;
* the civil society is only slowly gaining self confidence;
* real estate developers are calculating with high rates of return of investment and are oftentimes not aware of their responsibilities for users / buyers and the environment, both built and natural.
On a more human level, almost all architects we know suffer from a constant hurry to finish projects and the need to drastically adapt solutions overnight, due to various reasons described above.
What is the reason for the efficient land use being the major and constant theme of Planwerk's work?
At the beginning of the 2000s, the natural post-socialist enthusiasm for house ownership and investment, combined with a rather permissive legal framework and boosted by a short lived economic boom, triggered a process of high land consumption. Large agricultural surfaces surrounding cities were turned into building land for (mostly speculative) new estates, with little regard for ecology, for later developments or for the
necessary infrastructure, while large inner city areas stood empty. The dramatic increase of car ownership was inflicting a huge pressure on the inherited infrastructure and led to the extension of surfaces dedicated to car traffic inside many cities, on the expense of public space.
This was the background on which Planwerk started its first studies for the cities of Cluj and Sibiu. As a response, we tried to understand, adapt and later apply in practice strategies and tools, which could assist both the public administration and private owners in managing land resources.