THE “ROMANITA” COLLECTIVE HOUSING TOWER (CHISINAU)

The building is situated at 29/2 Arheolog Ion Casian-Suruceanu Street, on the periphery of the “Valea Trandafirilor” Park, near the Republican Clinical Hospital. In the mid-70s due to the housing needs, local authorities decided to build a block of flats for small family units. It was designed and built between 1978 and 1986 by the architect O. Vronski and the engineer A. Marian, in collaboration with O. Blogu, S. Crani, N. Rebenko and P. Feldman. In terms of structural engineering, the building is an important achievement of 70s-80s – all the living units on all 16 levels are designed and built in console, thus enhancing the slender image of the building – a rare shape for that time.

After the 90s, these social housings for small family units changed their status into “residential apartments” after being privatized by the owners. Going back to the time of USSR, we find all architectural design controlled by political authorities’ directives. For that reason, each person had an area of 6 square meters assigned in the concept phase of the project. The principle of the housing unit/housing cell was applied, consisting of two rooms assigned to each two people, with a hall and a bathroom. Communal kitchens, recreation rooms and technical areas were provided on each residential floor. This type of compartmenting represents the reality of the socialist period, when experts had to comply with the imposed rules of the living spaces, without being able to make any changes without approval from authorities. Here is one popular example of space division: eight units with two rooms on each residential level, connected by a circular corridor with common areas, which benefit from natural light. All rooms have access to the terrace.

Approximately 77 meters high, the tower known as “Romanita” used to be the tallest building in Chisinau. The building consists of 2 basements, ground floor and 22 stories. Its main function is collective accommodation. The circular shape of the building and the long, vertical orientation were influenced by the proximity to “Valea Trandafirilor” Park. The architectural and spatial composition of the cylindrical building includes four floors for utilities (laundry and cleaning room, drying room and other household utility rooms) and 16 residential floors. The two underground levels are built for technical areas.

From a functional point of view, the upper part of the building would be suitable for a two-level coffee bar and an area destined to host tourist trips of the panoramic view of Chisinau.

From a legal point of view, the residential building is divided as follows: the ground floor and the upcoming 3 floors (except for the stairs and utilities) and a part of the housing units (16 residential floors) are privately owned, while the rest of the building (upper floors and technical facilities) are under the administration of the Municipal Enterprise of Housing Fund Management No. 9.

CURRENT STATE

“Romanita” was supposed to be part of a larger compound consisting of a tower building, a cafeteria and a sports hall. Only part of this plan was followed through; the adjacent buildings (the cafeteria and the sports hall) haven’t been constructed, as well as the connecting perimeter infrastructure (courtyard with parking space and passages) and the last two floors of “Romanita”. At the moment, “Romanita” is experiencing decline while in a state of advanced decay. However, it is structurally stable and functional for at least one hundred years.

Another issue regarding the use of the space is represented by the small size of the apartments in relation to the density of the tenants. Many of them have expanded the surface of their apartments by building makeshift terraces-balconies (of brick, cement brick or board). This type of illegal interventions distorts the image of the building and creates a real threat to the safety of its users for several reasons: first of all, an increasing number of superstructure buildings loads the main building structurally and since they were not authorized, we cannot predict their behavior in time. Secondly, many additions are made from extremely cheap and bad quality materials and that increases the crash risk.

The ground floors’ functionality is split between the reception and repartition area and former commercial spaces, where access is made both from inside and outside the building, but at the moment entrances are out of use. Vertical access is made through a central traffic node, which includes a spiral staircase and three elevators, two passenger ones and a freight one. The building is provided with a fire escape staircase with access from balconies to residential floors.

Most of the commercial spaces (Food Store, Barber Shop, Shoes Repair Shop) functioned during the 80s and were once located on the ground floor, but the spaces where they used to be have been vandalized. The joinery, the windows and the exterior concrete platforms, as well as the finishes and the interior installations have been destroyed. The railings – where railings are still available – are made of minimal elements and don’t actually secure the place as they should.

Although the construction has the function of a residential building, the housing typology of the socialist period no longer meets the current standards. Apart from this aspect, from the first sight, the building presents itself as an unhealthy and unsuitable environment for the function currently performed, because of the state of degradation in which it is found.

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