An Unexpected Urban Baggage

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The highlighted project in the image above is perhaps the most violent scar left by a totalitarian regime through the flesh of a capital, making Bucharest the most devastated European city in times of peace.

The megalomaniac “Civic Centre”, a materialization of a North Korean vision of modernity, also dubbed “The Socialist Victory” is organised along a monumental axis that short-circuits the scale and the inherited logic of the city, hiding it behind a colossal order decorated mantle. Thus it establishes a new hierarchy on top of which schizophrenically thrones the largest administrative building in Europe known by us as the “House of the People”, today “The Palace of the Parliament”. This project is our baggage, the people of Bucharest’s baggage, and the question that started the Portmanteau project is “What would happen if we were to take this baggage with us through the world?”.

How to use the site

this is how the “Socialist Victory” would look like in London

Use the search bar to change the city. The drawing will be projected over the chosen destination keeping its scale and its position will be anchored relative to the centre of the urbanization. To move the drawing, left click and move the newly appeared marker to your desired location. Another click and the marker will disappear. The “Random” button helps with the lack of inspiration!

More info about the project

The project started from the passion shared by two childhood friends for their city. The city in question is Bucharest, a city of contrasts, struggling to find its identity. One of the things that shape this identity is its socialist past that turned wild and furious on the structure of the city by implementing a megalomaniac project designed as the beginning of a new city, growing from the heart of the old that would establish a new order aligned with the communist ideals. The name of the ensemble was “Socialist Victory”.

To achieve this new axis stretching from the east to the west of the city a surface equivalent to the surface of Venice had to be demolished to make room. Crowning this grotesque monumentality is the “House of the People”, now the Palace of the Parliament, the second largest building in the world and surely the biggest building in Europe. The development emphasizes the presence of this building by cutting the old city and creating new hierarchies by hiding the inherited urban landscape of the city, with churches defining the higher topography by hiding them behind a mantle of blocks. The message is that there is no more room for religion, there can be only one supreme belief, communism. It’s one of those things that make the post-socialist context fascinating. How was this possible?

We are part of a generation that was born just when the development of this project had started and for us it is part of the city, although because of its political connotations and also its lack of sensibility to the pre-existing situation makes it be regarded as a city within a city.

They are wondering what can be done, and how can this be integrated into the rest and into the conscience. Their concept started from a simple question, “Ok it’s big, but just how big?” and because they are specialized in different disciplines (architecture/urbanism and computer engineering), they set out to find a way of visualizing it and Portmanteau is the interactive result of their project.

Further Reading

Catalin is the founder of Mostash – a social marketing boutique – and he’s always happy to share his passion for graphic design & social media.