Location: Corbeanca, Romania. The town’s generally flat 34-hectare site is located approximately two kilometers west of Henri Coanda International Airport in the rapidly urbanizing outskirts of Bucharest.
The Project is a new town to be built in the commune of Corbeanca, in Ilfov County, Romania. The town’s generally flat 34-hectare site is located approximately two kilometers west of Henri Coanda International Airport in the rapidly urbanizing outskirts of Bucharest. Although the district is currently an agricultural zone, the expansion of Greater Bucharest is causing a significant demand for housing and related services in the area. The proximity of Bucharest International Airport, the DN1 Bucharest-Ploesti road and the presence of Bucharest’s first and second ring roads make the Corbeanca-Otopeni area into a formidable magnet of urban development. In order for this frantic building activity not to lead to further catastrophic physical and aesthetic congestion, the wider geographic context needs to be master planned before it is too late; before the corridors of land allowing adequate intersections, highways, roads, avenues and boulevards are irretrievably lost. The project foresees the development of Airport City, Corbeanca and Otopeni as three independent cities with their own character, with their clearly readable urban quarters, centres and edges.
The Project is divided into four quarters disposed along the cardinal points. Major streets define the perimeter of these quarters which meet around the main square that contains the Project’s most important public building and civic tower. Branching from the main arteries, smaller streets animate the interior of all four quarters, each of which contains smaller squares as well as courtyards within the urban blocks. Trees, fountains, and sculptures will adorn the variety of public spaces, and private gardens will enrich the individual houses and residential buildings. Tree–defined avenues will delimit the edges of the development, while tree-lined alleys will be interspersed within the quarters. An existing archeological site located at the northwestern edge of the Project will be developed as a public park.
In the Project, an organic hierarchy governs the organization of the settlement at every level, from town, to quarter, to block, to building. As a microcosm of the whole town each quarter has a balanced collection of building types and urban elements and a hierarchy of streets. The diversity of uses within each quarter also permeates the individual buildings where retail, office and residential uses are often accommodated within the same structure. The constituent blocks of the Project are arranged in nonrectilinear groupings. Individual structures within these groups often have irregular footprints. The intricate geometries set up by these moves result in complex perspectival effects that enhance the visual experience of streets and squares and form short vistas that slow down traffic speed without artificial devices. A varied skyline, resulting from varying the number of levels and floor–to–floor heights, enriches this visual experience.
The Project’s fabric is infused with the unique character of Romanian cities – their sense of place, their hierarchy of public and private buildings, their centers and edges, and their materials and colors. The architectural heritage of great cities such as Sighişoara, Braşov, Sibiu, and Timişoara, informs the assemblage of a specifically Romanian lexicon from which the architectural character of the new city will be derived. This vernacular lexicon will inspire the design of all the private structures in the Project. For the public buildings, given their civic significance, the traditions of classical architecture will be employed. Utilizing this methodology for the design of the Project’s buildings ensures the creation of a new urban environment whose architectural character is imbued with the same humane qualities as those we admire in historical centers.
Lessons learned: The lessons and questions addressed in the Project are: “What are the un-renounceable architectural and urban ingredients which make a beautiful city? What kind of architecture suits best for what kind of settlement pattern, in what quantities, in what dosage?” Traditional urbanism delivers the instrument that lends itself to architectural tuning, to the harmonizing of complexity. Building the Good City results from the felicitous relationship between its buildings, town form, street plan, skyline and geographic location. Human settlements are structured into private and public realms whatever their purpose, size or location. Yet neither public nor private enterprise generates a robust and elegant public realm as a mere by-product of their activities. Rather, a city’s beauty, its socializing power, are the fruit of conscious intent, of civilizing vision. The vernacular and the classical are familiar classifications in the field of building, where they distinguish between construction activity as craft or as art form. In the realm of language they designate the differences between the spoken and the written languages, between idiom and text, prose and poetry, and by extension, between custom and law. The conscious use of vernacular and classical architectural modes, and their combination with adequate network geometries, allows us to create new towns which rival the best urban ensembles of the past.
Transect Zone(s): T2 rural, T3 sub-urban, T4 general, T5 center.
Project or Plan's Scale: Town
Features: Mixed uses.
Land area (in acres): 84
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Project team designers: Architecture and Urban Design Studio
Project team developers: N/A
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Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: -