The Telephone Palace is located in the historical city center of Cluj-Napoca, north of George Baritiu street and south of Octavian Petrovici street. The western façade faces the Ion Luca Caragiale park, while the eastern wall of the building is in the immediate vicinity of the National Post Office headquarters.
Evolution of the building
Phase one of the building unit was completed in 1969, and as planned by the architect Vasile Mitrea, it consists of basement, ground level and three stories. The remarkable western façade is glazed, framed with travertine-pleated vertical elements. The plinth is covered in white marble and window boxes. A horizontal element of cement wash separates the ground level from the first floor. Precast concrete structures were used to complete the upper side of the building, with fretwork design of two different sizes. These interlaced geometric elements give the building a playful twist. Each story is 4,8m tall, covered with 4,4x 1,6 m precast concrete slabs.
In the second phase an extra floor was added, so the building went from 19,55m to 25,55m tall. This extra floor is made entirely of glass and is decorated with ferroconcrete columns.
The western façade includes the main entrance of the building which consists of a high ground decorated with window boxes. Having the largest glazed surface of the building, this side offers a beautiful view of the park.
The southern façade has a service entrance of lesser grandeur.
The playfulness of the facades, the proportions of the building and the choice of materials are of timeless esthetic value. With this remarkable architecture the building catches the attention of any passer-by.
The ground floor plan has a space distribution suitable for its use as customer service area. The technical area and the doorman’s desk located in the southern part of the building can be accessed through the ground floor.
Overview of the present situation
Currently the building’s walls are vandalized with graffiti paintings – a stare of worrying degradation. Cables and air conditioning cases cover the ground floor’s façade, seriously affecting its esthetics.
A sculpture/installation created by the building’s architect himself was placed right from the main entrance. The sculpture had the letters “V.M.” carved into its body – a serious violation according to the socialist authorities. As years passed by, the carving became acceptable. Recently the artwork was displaced and sold as scrap iron with no consideration towards its historical significance. Also, there was no reaction from any cultural authority (Ministry of Culture could have interfered).
Currently the edifice is property of TELEKOM (former Romtelecom).
Suggestions for improving the building’s condition
The current condition of the building can be restored so that it respects the architectural specs included in the initial plan: only matching chromatics and original materials should be used, while any objects that hinder the esthetics of the building (such as the air conditioners or cables) should be removed.
The edifice needs façade and interior improvements, while its technical installation needs to be brought up-to-date. To make the most of the area across the entrance, we recommend turning it into a green space with pavement and matching street furniture.
The Telephone Palace is one of the most important historical buildings of Cluj-Napoca, reflecting the architectural style of the second decade of the 20th century in Romania.
architect Mihaela Lozovanu
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