Shona Beattie (she/her)
Conditions of temporality and precariousness are familiar to both the urban fabric of cities across the world and to the people who live in them, but are often unrecognised, disregarded or hidden out of sight until they can be no longer ignored. These conditions will become only more prevalent, and recognising the precariousness of the city is essential for future contingency and resilience and for strengthening solidarity with those in need. This is particularly relevant in the city of Bucharest, which has a relationship with the precarious in a multitude of ways. Here, a tumultuous history is visible all around you and yet the city sits vulnerably awaiting an earthquake it knows will have a disastrous effect. This condition of the city evidences a precariousness of urban populations, built fabric, economic instability and political turmoil which underlies the formation of cities across the globe.
The thesis project questions what meaningful spaces architecture can create when acknowledging the context of precariousness, fluctuance and temporality inherent in the city and its people, and how we can create places in a context of displacement. Working closely with two sites in south Bucharest, it investigates ways to support both people and place through architectural, technical and programmatic intervention which responds to both everyday life and in case of emergency scenarios.
This framework is established initially through participation in the In Transit 8 Studio at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, investigating the existing role and future potential of architecture in humanitarian aid work. This studio is formed in relation to the work being undertaken by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NORCAP) and Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs in autumn 2022 to develop contingency plans for hosting Ukrainian refugees in the city. The dualities and juxtapositions of the everyday life and emergency scenarios balance the requirements of fast, short term and emergency planning with longer term thinking, community engagement and contextual consideration. However, the duality is mirrored in many aspects of the city, and becomes a key way of conceptualising the thesis and complexities of its context. The foundation set by the In Transit studio is a fundamental influence and lens through which to focus further on the city of Bucharest and significance of its relationship with the topics of precariousness and displacement.
A Place for Displacement
The city of Bucharest holds many elements, juxtapositions and contradictions. Within this a number of dualities can be traced, which relate to the theme of the everyday and the emergency. The investigation of the city uses this structure as a means of exploring how the urban environment is shaped both by the broad impact of political, economic and societal shifts, and by the everyday lives of its inhabitants.
This focuses in to the site of the former Bragadiru brewery; a surviving relic of old industrial heritage within a neighbourhood razed for the construction of the monumental ‘People’s House’. Now lying in decay, the site has been swept along in the story of Bucharest over the last century. Envisioning the adaptation of this site links into a new phase of reuse happening across the south of the city, and establishes a theoretical dialogue with former phases of urban displacement.
The project works with the long, linear existing building on Bulevardul George Coșbuc and the deserted landscape of the wider brewery complex which lies beyond it. Operating on the boundary of these two spaces, the intervention creates links between the two, establishing a series of spaces which create layers of thresholds and transitions where before there was a clear barrier. This aims to consolidate and bring back into use both building and landscape and facilitate a diverse and open use of these spaces.