Date: 10.2011
Type: Competition
Project typology: Urban Square Design
Size: 9.000 sqm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Status: settled

Project leader: Oana Simionescu
Team: Alex Cozma, Silvia Tripsa, Ioan Veliciu, Oana Aneci

OLGV: Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu

SYAA: Adrian Soare, Eliza Yokina, Matei Stoean, Sebastian Lupea


A wunderkammer, also known as a cabinet of curiosities or a wonder room, is a collection of objects meant to represent the world in miniature. The Kunstkammer was regarded as a miniature-universe, or theater of the world, and a memory theater. It conveyed symbolically the patron’s control of the world through its indoor, microscopic reproduction. Besides the most famous and best documented cabinets of rulers and aristocrats, members of the merchant class and early practitioners of science in Europe also formed collections that were precursors to museums.

Wunderkammer takes its name from the eclectic, encyclopedic collections of the old nobles which served as microcosms of a baffling world, demanding examination and inspiring curiosity from its viewers. Just as those miniature museums, ‘Piala Universitatii’ is a place that collects within it’s history many layers of interventions, monuments, emotions, personalities and events, all somehow connected to each other and to our trails in time, as Romanians, as inhabitants of Bucharest – ‘KM 0 of freedom’, ‘a sort of Mecca’.

Through thoughtful interventions, and negotiations between different times, the project is a dynamic witness of the age. The design consists in gradually assembling the site’s rich resources into a whole, tossing them like through a sieve so that their connections remain fluent, and continue the loop of time.

If we imagine the surfaces of a territory as the floors of certain great rooms, scattered with colorful carpets of diverse motifs, we might then also imagine, rolled over the urban space, possible architectures conceived as operative carpets.

A square might be conceived today as a large void ‘to be habilitated’ strategically marked out with equipped clusters – amassed services. In the same way, the University square’s new structure is formulated preserving its ‘vacant’ qualities through the tactical location of scattered programmatic spots, not camouflaged but rather slid into and over the carpet – a WUNDERCARPET.

All ideas were embodied in a welter of forms and color . The quality of this approach is the fact that it surmounts the difficulty of putting things together in view of the dual nature of the square: at once the thing and its representation.

The layers reveal an order of information by means of superimposing levels of simultaneous knowledge. It is applied as a method to maintain independence, fluctuation and evolution of diverse facts and components that have been applied. Subtle, yet perceivable in plan, layers also apply to elevations. The urban space is seen as invisible flows and visible materialization of information. It is a multiple generator in a complex field of forces.

The idea of combination among autonomous layers of information alludes, in effect, to urban form itself and to its disintegration in a new landscape of simultaneous forces, actions and events, open to synchronous coexistence among differing messages, developing commensurately one atop the other, in a dynamic transferable, synthetic and definitively multilayered nature of the contemporary device.

This multiplied nature of ‘the contemporary city’ demands a new type of cartography: at once open and compatible, selective and purposeful and often surprising and completely new. The layers overlap and the intersection consist in a historical collision that merges into a contemporary attitude.

Practically, it is a mosaic of patterns on an open canvas. The canvas drags its material reference from the buildings that lie upon it, and from the statues that give it structure. All other layers are subordinated to the canvas, the times they come from, and their previous function – overlayed green areas remain green, former living places grow into sitting places, etc.

The canvas negotiates it’s reality with the functional layer underground, through simple cuts and peels, that extend it towards the blue – thus making the parking disappear under the carpet.

The urban space is cut by traffic. In order to reconquer it’s former unity, besides the material language of the elements, the statues (in their current and former places) generate a magnetic field of light that subtly brings the two sides of the square together again, by night.

It should in the first place serve as a space for building the ‘landscape of one’s (or a collective’s) mind’. As such it should primarily augment the associative base for the design process, through offering access to a wide range of inspirational objects. Piata Universitclii is now a ‘Rabbit Hole’, in the urban world, that allows people to temporarily disappear in magic worlds with different logic and stories. A wundercarpet.

*We consider the current intervention in the square as a temporary one, since the square cannot be ‘completed’ until the traffic problem is taken care of. In respect to this, the proposal works as an open-air museum – a place intended to generate community involvement and identification with the place and its past,so that one day people will ask, and then receive, their square back as it should be – a whole, and not a haotic patch-work.