The needs of Romanians are manifested too much in the hunger for square meters, in the obsession with the incarnation, in the absolute primacy of individual need

Romanian architecture is bad for the media, he thinks Ștefan Ghenciulescuaarchitect, curator, critic & editor-in-chief Zeppelin. If we set aside the peaks, which are exceptions, it remains a great meal without qualities. There is a lack of true urbanism that comes from understanding public space and respect for others. But there are also reasons for optimism: the new generation of architects, connected, responsible. The most creative ideas of this generation, its projects and ambitions, can be seen, for 10 years, at Romanian Design Week, where Ștefan Ghenciulescu is an involved partner, part of the creative board and member of the jury for certain sections.

RDW set out from the beginning to bring design into the world, to gather and connect authors and audiences, to make propaganda in a good way. There is a commercial aspect, but it is acceptable for me: you need to finance yourself and not just depend on public funds (tiny), so sponsors, says Stefan Ghenciulescu.

2022 edition takes place under the theme #FORWARD, between 13 and 22 May. This year, the GO Design Circuit will take place, organized on creative neighborhoods, in which over 50 dehubs from Bucharest join RDW. You can also visit the largest Romanian design concept store in the country, which will be arranged on 500 square meters.

In the following lines, Ștefan Ghenciulescu talks about the RDW community, makes a personal assessment of the event he has been participating in for 10 years and stops a little on what is happening in 2022 in Romanian architecture.

Why architecture

Father, architect and teacher at Mincu. Mother, engineer and professor at Poli. Older sister, painter. I also wanted to go to the Arts, but I was distracted by the efforts of the whole family. Somehow, they told me that architecture is a good compromise, that I can do a lot of other things after that, if I don’t like it. , at a not very objective exam.

I gave up. Fortunately, it turned out that I liked it and that I didn’t see myself doing anything else.

Topics that concern you right now

I am more and more interested in what is at the intersection of architecture and other disciplines: the city, but not only from an aesthetic point of view, social architecture, the relationship with history – but not a conservative, but fertile, heritage. And, of course, the magazine, the books, the prince, the pedagogy of architecture.

How the relationship between Romanians and space has changed

Their needs are still too much manifested in the hunger for square meters. But also in the obsession of encroachment, of quick resolution, of limited and uncorrelated answers, in the absolute primacy of individual, primary and immediate need over collaboration, stability, prudence. Symbolic example: individual closing of balconies / terraces to new apartments of hundreds of square meters.

Romanian architecture in 2022

Still, unfortunately, we are bad with the media. Everywhere there is good and very good and bad architecture. I envy the countries that have a good and civilized average, from which the peaks come out. In our country, the peaks are the exceptions of a large and unqualified meal. In fact, that’s what we’re missing – true urbanism, public spaces, respect for others.

But there is a generation between 25-40 years old, which is connected, often deeper and more responsible than us elders. There are many examples of good rural architecture and innovation. For good public architecture, we have a vital need for competitions. Many and good, not as isolated events.

Meeting with RDW

Ha, ha. I don’t even remember well. I don’t even know if I participated in any way in the first edition. But I remember the Stirbey Palace, in semi-abandonment and the contrast with the exhibits, this good connection between the place and the program, the relaxed atmosphere and that there were few people with jackets or tailors and that we were not just architects and designers there. There was a design section at the Annuals and Biennials of Architecture, but not architecture as part of the design in a global and open event.

Creative community

There are some constants: we are always media partners and we promote with enthusiasm. I have been on the creative board and a member of the jury for certain sections for several years. We usually exhibit either publications, or interventions in public space and temporary architecture, or constructions. In 2020, some of my colleagues worked more intensively on exhibitions and homework, and I had the pleasure of being a member of the student competition for the installation of some installations.

It seems to me that RDW is becoming more and more consistent, and I’m not saying that out of politeness or because I’m a little involved. If we look at the events of architecture and design, but also of art, we see two extremes: on the one hand, super-professional events, coherent and sometimes extremely hermetic, on the other hand, rather commercial events, which can often to have guests / lecturers / exhibitors etc. of great value, but which remain quite eclectic and with considerable disparities; which cultural purpose is not necessarily the most important, which have a problem of selection, of curatorial discourse.

RDW set out from the beginning to bring design into the world, to gather and connect authors and audiences, to make propaganda in a good way. There is a commercial aspect, but one that is acceptable to me: you need to finance yourself and not just depend on public funds (tiny), so sponsors. Plus the design has to sell, by its very nature. In order not to become just a fair, but to remain a cultural event, you need rigor, criteria, selection and a good balance between being cool, attractive and at the same time authentic and with a guaranteed level.

This requires rigorous pre-selection – and I don’t know of any Annual / Biennial where the selection is so tough; of a programmatic vision – which comes just before curation and which sets limits and aspirations, in a pragmatic-idealistic way .; then the curatorship itself, the design, the good related events, the outside guests, but some good ones (the guest country section is always very cool); you have to put what is happening to us in an international context and it is important for people to be proud to exhibit or even be awarded at RDW. That’s why I said that RDW is becoming more and more consistent, more rigorous, but it remains a friendly, open event. The part of responsibility is also present in an authentic way.

In addition, the festival really brings people together and does it in a good and fertile way – and I say that from personal experience. A community has been built around RDW and its value is even clearer when you think of the Romanian environment, not very favorable to design. It is important to build an audience as well as to see how young designers evolve, for which sometimes the festival is even the first or strongest chance at the beginning of their career.

Personal balance

Hard to choose. I feel really good at RDW. I was honored to be on the jury, and I always felt like I was learning a lot from smarter people than me. I am happy when we win an award, I like the adjacent exhibitions, I can’t resist not buying from the design shop, and many times I ended up publishing or working with people whose works I saw there. I really like the team and I feel like I’m charging them with energy. They, and the parties, which says a lot, because I’m not a very social person.


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