Tourism has been increasingly developing in Romania from the 1930’s when the nuclei of the resorts, characterized by small isolated buildings, were extended to reproduce urban design. From the 1930’s to the 1960’s, the foundations for the mass tourism were set. During the second half of the 20th century and under the supervision of the architect Cezar Lazarescu, the Romanian coastline experienced massive development with the construction of numerous resorts. These centralized projects aimed at integrating accommodation areas, taking into consideration the specific landscape, shoreline configuration, local traffic and infrastructure etc. These resort complexes, based on land systematization and planning, increased the hotel capacity. They each had their own individual identities and hosted new tourist accommodation types, principally leisure, recreation and treatment. Underlying this development the planners’ aspirations were to build leisure facilities besides the accommodation spaces.
Currently, a large number of hotels on the Romanian seaside are in an advanced state of degradation. The state of decay is the result of either uncertain legal status or lack of funds. Degradations appeared mostly due to the lack of maintenance, while some of the buildings give the impression of having been abandoned.
The Neptun-Olimp ensemble is a spa resort situated in the former Comorova Forest.
The Neptun Resort was inaugurated in 1967, with the opening of its first hotels. The Neptun Hotel, located in the center of the resort, is one of its symbols. The Neptun Hotel, as well as the Forum Hotel from the Costinesti Resort, has a silhouette dominated by two axes of composition, one horizontal and one vertical. The main entrance, the foyer, the reception areas, the conference rooms, the restaurant and the technical annexes develop horizontally on a single level, an ensemble composed of predominantly opaque elements. The architectural appearance is dominated by decorative vertical elements made of prefabricated concrete. Accommodations are located in a eight storey high tower (beam-to-column), with a rigorous front where the right angle prevails. The decorative elements are made of vertical balustrades and elements separating the concrete terraces.
At present, the hotel no longer works at full capacity. Although the building is in a better condition than other buildings in Neptun, the lack of maintenance on a regular basis has led to a series of degradations, such as: deteriorated exterior plaster and façade stains from environmental factors and improper isolation (which further caused rainwater infiltrations), deterioration of the terraces waterproofing, the occurrence of parasitic vegetation on terraces and on the fronts, degradation of exterior access platforms and of adjacent green spaces.
The Olimp resort was completed in 1972 and has three main hotel compounds:
1.The Amfiteatru Ensemble consists of the Amfiteatru, Panoramic and Belvedere hotels;
- The North Olimp Ensemble consists of twin hotels named after the main regions of Romania: Maramures, Crisana, Muntenia, Moldova, Dobrogea, Transilvania and Oltenia;
- The Ensemble of smaller buildings consists of hotels named after some important cities in Romania: Arad, Galati, Sibiu, Craiova, Timisoara;
The Amfiteatru Ensemble is situated on the seafront and its volumetric composition is influenced by the topography of the surrounding landscape, namely the powerful cornice.
In terms of the composition, all the three hotels are developed both vertically and horizontally. Their main characteristic are the successive withdrawing terraces, with different functions (one of which being hotel accommodation).
The connection between the three buildings is achieved through a series of lavish exterior stairs, walkways and ample terraces on the ground floor which create the image of a continuous curve.
The Amfiteatru Hotel has a central location and dominates the Ensemble through both height and verticality of the façade, emphasized through the elements separating the terraces. Another representative characteristic is the alternation of plain concrete balustrades with metallic ones, creating a vibrant play on the façade.
In case of the Belvedere and Panoramic hotels, the fronts are composed predominately of glass curtain walls and large terraces, with a view to the beach, which create a linear image, a specific characteristic of modernism, representing a powerful accent in the composition of the façade line. There are few façade decorations and they are made of prefabricated elements with regular geometrical forms, which also create a rigorous and rhythmic picture.
These three buildings were bought in 2007 by the Unita Turism Company owned by Josef Goschy, who had the obligation to modernize the complex. The work began, but the investment later stopped. Therefore, only small maintenance works have been completed so far.
Out of the three buildings, only the Amfiteatru Hotel is in a better state. The three hotels exhibit the following major degradations:
– The degradation of exterior plaster, due to environmental factors, rainwater infiltration, improper isolation, which gave further rise to dampness and localized grinding of concrete, as well as the exposure of the armatures.
– The degradation of exterior access stairs (the breaking of concrete elements and the obliteration of slip resistant materials) – the metal balustrades are rusty and some binding elements are missing, which increases the risk of collapse.
– The degradation of the hydroisolation and finishes for the pedestals.
– The degradation of the terraces along with their constituent layers, the occurrence and growth of parasitic vegetation after water penetration through technical joints and the destruction of the rainwater drainage system, which led to the destruction of the waterproofing system and meteoric waters infiltration.
– The degradation of outdoor terraces, because of floor tiles breaking or removal.
– In the absence of maintenance works, the interior finishes are in the same state of degradation as the outdoor ones.
The Panoramic Hotel is in the most advanced state of degradation. It can accommodate guests only on the lower floors, the rest of the building being closed. Most of the windows are broken, the external joinery is destroyed even in the places whare it has been replaced and there are areas where the closings are on the verge of collapse.
Because the meteoric water drainage system is damaged and because of the weather, the outside plaster is inflated in many places. There are areas where the plaster fell off, which led to the grinding of concrete and exposure of the armatures, both in prefabricated decorative elements (some of which are detached) and in some of the structural elements. The terraces waterproofing and water retrieval system are degraded, which has led to water stagnation and infiltration.
The whole ensemble is a masterpiece of Romanian socialist architecture. Through volumetric composition, an intimate connection was created between the buildings and their natural environment through the continuity of interior spaces on the outside. These days, the whole complex is in an advanced state of degradation. It is absolutely necessary to make the authorities and the civil society aware of the danger the whole ensemble is in.
The North Olimp Ensemble is located by the shore, 20-30 meters above the sea level and it is composed of a tower complex placed in an area with rich vegetation.
In terms of composition, the buildings are developed vertically, representing an accent of the resort. The volumetric composition is rigorous, the right angle prevails and the decorative elements are limited. The dominant characteristics are the modular elements of the façade, which compared to the ones on the Amfiteatru ensemble create a series of “terraces” that do not develop vertically, but come out of the façade surface on a horizontal plane, giving the buildings a dynamic aspect.
At present, only the Crisana Hotel has undergone more extensive reconstruction and “modernization” works. The entire complex gives the impression of an abandoned place, especially because of the adjacent gardens, which have represented an oasis of peace and greenery in the 1970s and the 1980s. Nowadays, low and medium vegetation has grown so much that it covers the paths that formerly connected the hotels or led to the beach. Moreover, the spaces surrounding the buildings are neglected and full of litter, the walkways and the roads are destroyed, and the exterior stairs have crumbled. The hotels had a series of functional annexes on the ground floors that interconnected seven buildings, which are now deserted. A large part of their walls and floors have collapsed and a series of new parasitic constructions of metal and other low quality materials were built in their place, attached or adjacent to the hotels, distorting the volumetric composition of the buildings.
The hotels of this complex show the following types of degradation:
– The exterior plaster is degraded by the weather, rainwater infiltration and improper isolation, which gave rise to dampness both on the fronts and inside the buildings.
– The presence of air conditioning equipment in relatively large numbers on the hotel façades.
– The outside degradation of the access stairs (cracks in the concrete and the wearing out of anti-slip elements).
– The degradation of hydroisolation and finishes for the pedestals.
– The degradation of terraces and their constituent layers, which led to rainwater infiltration.
– The degradation of the outside platforms for access, the occurrence of parasitic vegetation, the destruction of the upper layer of the walkway and the road.
– The green spaces adjacent to the hotel are in general not maintained and have become dumping grounds.
Both Neptun and Olimp featured bowling halls, major tourist attractions at the time. The two buildings, which were mostly developed horizontally, have a simple geometrical volume. The decorative elements are in small number, a distinctive feature for the socialist period and consist of vertical panels applied on the front of the building (in case of the Olimp Hotel) or powerful frames that are coming out of the façade (in case of the Neptun Hotel). These rigorous elements create a contrasting image: a sober architectural appearance, even austere by some people, which is at the same time vibrant and imposing. Over time, because the local authorities changed their priorities, these two symbolic buildings have been abandoned. Now they have broken windows, decaying woodwork, stained exterior plaster that has swollen and fallen off in places and damaged wall partitions and interior finishes.
The Forum Hotel
Costinesti is a resort designed as an extension of the village with the same name, where the first documented habitation dated back to the Iron Age. Foundations for the resort were put in the late 1940s, when a student camp near the Costinesti Lake was built. The emblem of the resort is The Forum Hotel, one of a few large hotels built before the 1980s.
Forum Hotel is located in the southern part of the resort, which was designed by architects Stefan Şteblea (project leader), Razvan Florea, Toma Olteanu, Constantin Dobre, Victor Ivaneş technicians: Marieta Dinu, Ligia Vereş and was completed in 1977.
In terms of composition, the hotel has a dominant vertical represented by the volume where accommodation rooms are located. The sensation of slenderness is emphasized by pillars and columns that lift the main floors from the level of the mezzanine and by successively indenting last four terraces of eight levels. The promenade level holds the main access, the common areas, the foyer and a multipurpose hall. Other related functional areas of the hotel (common areas, the foyer, restaurant terraces, conference rooms, technical annexes, etc.) are spacious and spread over two floors, under the level of the promenade, thus achieving a direct connection with the natural environment. Over time, the hotel’s appearance has changed through maintenance works on the façade color scheme, which is currently dominated by red-brown embossed decorative plaster.
Nowadays the hotel is owned by the Perla Majestic Group. The owner did not realize the necessity of maintenance work and this is why degradations are increasing.
The most dramatic are:
– Degradation of the exterior plaster due to the weather, rainwater infiltration, and improper isolation, all responsible for dampness and exposure of the concrete and reinforcement.
– Outside degradation of the access stairs (cracks in the concrete and wearing out of the anti-slip elements); degradation of the coating on exterior access stairs.
– Degradation of waterproof isolation and destruction of coating on the plinths.
– Degradation of the terraces’ constituent layers, the occurrence and growth of parasitic vegetation after water penetration through technical joints and the destruction of the rainwater drainage system, which leads to the destruction of the waterproofing system and meteoric waters infiltration.
– Degradation of the outside terraces after the floor tiles broke or were removed.
– Degradation of outside access platforms, the occurrence of parasitic vegetation, the destruction of the upper layer of the walkway and roadway.
– The green spaces adjacent to the hotel are in general not maintained and have become dumping grounds.
– The exterior joinery is only partially replaced.
– Some terraces and roof covers made out of low quality materials have degraded in a short period of time.
The Neptun-Olimp and Costinesti resorts, once considered the most luxurious and elegant Romanian seaside resorts, are now full of abandoned buildings, in decay and invaded by parasitic vegetation, with unsanitary public spaces and impracticable walkways and roads. All these new “features” leave a sad impression to tourists who visit these resorts.
text by architect Sorina Varenic
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