Short history and outlines

Situated on an area that covers both hills and lowland, Ploiesti is one of the main cities that surround the country’s capital. The city’s history has been studied and registered by Vasile Parvan and Nicolae Iorga, who describe Ploiesti as an old establishment surrounded by the legendary forest Vlasia and its secular oak trees, where mild hills mingle with the waters of Telejean river. Ploiesti dates back to 1503 as a village on the territory of Tara Romaneasca. In 1597, Mihai Viteazu, the first unifier of Romanian territories, proclaims Ploiesti his residence and also an important borough, which becomes more and more prosperous as time goes by.

Overview of the present situation

The Ploiesti-Nord district comprises 10.000 apartments by the architect Daniel Guj. According to the map, the area was built between 1964 and 1971 as a collective housing space. Most of the buildings are ranked as high seismic risk and need structural rehabilitation, but when this will happen remains unknown. Because the edifices were projected before the great earthquake of 1977, their structural strength respects old parameters, which makes them even more fragile in case of earthquake. The mix between modern and old buildings gives a specific flavor to the district, like a living memory of the socialist period and its architectural techniques and systematization methods. We consider these buildings to be of great value and we expect authorities to define specific conservation methods and properly enforce them through urban planning regulations. The buildings in the Ploiesti-North district are used as follows: collective living spaces (the great majority of the complex), merchantry and other services (the Small Commercial Complex and the North Commercial Complex – the latter of greater importance), light industry (textile industry – Artisan’s Complex), education (a number of nursery schools), green spaces (North Park and small gardens surrounding the living spaces).

   The Collective Living Spaces

Built by the architect Daniel Guj in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the features of these buildings add personality to the district. The buildings consist of ground level and nine stories, with blue and green mosaic revetment on the facades. The stairways are beautifully adorned with precast concrete grids. Besides the high seismic risk of these buildings, problems arise from individual improvements, such as energetic rehabilitation, which required changing the actual facades only in some areas of the building, leaving others intact. We also need to consider the randomly placed satellite dishes and the balconies which have been closed using PVC split into irregular subdivisions. The stylistic chaos is affecting the buildings’ aesthetics and thus, their value.

The Northern Commercial Complex (main complex/extended)

The North Commercial Complex is the main retail venue of the district. Also built in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the ensemble respects the style of modern Romanian architecture: simple volumes, concrete architectural details on the facades – triforium, dark-green ceramic slabs on the facade – a playful arrangement of simple volumes that follow the lines of the backyard. The structure appears to be of concrete and is sustained by very thin, cylindrical metal masts that create a flowy, open space. The main problems of this building are the outdoor advertising and trade signs that cover its surface and the graffiti drawings on the ceramic slabs. The water infiltrations on the coated facades caused by the degraded roofing, the poor conservation of the secondary facades and the improvised repairs are other obvious problems. Rehabilitation is much needed, together with an urban plan that protects the personality of this modernistic commercial complex that adds so much to the identity of the district.

The Small Commercial Complex

The secondary commercial complex is also a modernistic building from the ‘60s-‘70s, built after the same criteria: simple columns, large glass partitions, a concrete structure with cantilevers placed on a series of cylindrical metal masts that create an airy, open and protected space. With great attention to detail, the specific charm of the building comes from the choice of architectural elements: concrete fretwork design, walls coated with small, round stone, an alternation between closed and open spaces with a great sense of perspective and the entire integration in the green area and in the district itself.

There are numerous problems at this building: abusive closing of spaces that were initially designed for open use, aggressive outdoor advertising placed on the edge of the portico’s attic or areas where the coating fell apart and wasn’t renewed, air conditioning boxes that cover the fretwork, adjustments of the coating in different areas, without maintaining a visual coherence and a degraded state of the pavement (concrete/asphalt boardwalks that lower the value of the building). The recently renewed interior finishing is low quality: crockery, molten mosaic, etc. Also, we consider red a very aggressive choice of color for the game room. Though the portico was intended to be open, it was enclosed with wooden fence with flower stands – a very inappropriate choice.

The Artisan’s Complex (a textile production company at the moment)

There is a surprising fluidity in the shapes of the Artisan’s Complex building, a fluidity that makes the main facade stand out. The carefully studied curves take us back to the ‘60s. Fortunately, the building is intended to be used in light industry activities (textiles) and this doesn’t involve any aggravating changes. Also, the fact that the building is owned by a single person, has saved it from stylistic fragmentation.

The simple surfaces of the exterior coating are beautifully adorned with joints of different textures. There is little infiltration in the plinth caused by inadequate paving, while there doesn’t seem to be any infiltration in the cover. To diminish the contrast between the building’s facade and the desolated parking lot, some green spaces might be needed.

 

 

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