Kolozsvár builds modern district from scratch

The era of chaotic construction in Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca seems to be over: The city will have a new district, the first one to be designed and built from scratch in the last 30 years in Romania, based on an urban plan developed following an international competition. The neighborhood will cover 250 hectares and will be completed in 30 years.

Kolozsvár is one of Romania’s fastest growing cities, its population has grown rapidly in recent times, leading to a rapid increase in construction. For example, the neighboring village of Szászfenes/Florești had 5,616 inhabitants in 1992, but by 2018 it had grown to 35,118, an increase of 625%. Similar increases were observed in other settlements in the metropolitan area of Kolozsvár, such as Apahida (population increased by 5,882), Kisbács/Baciu (3,726), Gyalu/Gilău (1,338). This increase created a great opportunity for the real estate market but led to a period of chaotic construction without any long-term plans. Due to this rashness, some parts of the city or the metropolitan area are not livable, are poorly connected to the city, or do not provide access to basic needs, shops, schools, etc.

Residential area near Kolozsvár
Construction without long-term plans. New residential area near Kolozsvár. Photo: Raul Ștef/PressOne.ro

But it seems that this era is over, as the new district of the city will be built based on an urban plan developed at an international competition. Architect Klaus Birthler, the developer of the international competition design theme, said in a press conference on Thursday that architects were tasked with designing a city for people. He stressed that the competition was unique, since 1989 it is the first time that architects were asked to lay out a whole new neighborhood on a 250-hectare land with more than 1,000 owners. “This is the big challenge, and I expect that the new neighborhood will be completed in 30 years, in stages,” said Birthler.

The winner of the competition, organized by Kolozsvár City Hall and the Order of Architects from Romania, is a local group, consisting of architects Octav Silviu Olănescu, Vlad Sebastian Rusu, and Anamaria Cornelia Olănescu, who wrote the project in collaboration with Miruna Moldovan and architecture students Andrada Pinte and Petrică Maier-Drăgan. The first prize consists of the design contract with an estimated value of RON 2.8 million (almost EUR 600,000).

New district

Location of the new district

“In the case of the winning project, the jury particularly appreciates the coherence of the proposal as well as the functional mix and the typology of the buildings. The network of public spaces is well distributed throughout the studied area and leads to an easy identification of the sub-areas of the neighborhood, which competes with the easy implementation, in stages, of the whole project. The green network is well connected to the adjacent natural context. The connection of public spaces with the network of green spaces creates a welcoming environment,” the jury said.

Details of the plan
The details of the plan

Mayor Emil Boc said at the press conference that this new district will be “a Monostor/ Mănăștur (the biggest district of the city – ed. note) of the 21st century.” According to the mayor, simple rules will be followed during construction. Within a 20-minute walk, the inhabitants will find any facility, kindergarten, bank, and boulevards, while it will also have green, ecological spaces, and will be connected to public transportation. “The project will be implemented taking into account the quality requirements demanded by the people of Kolozsvár,” he added.

Title image: The winner of the international competition was a local group of architects. Photo: monitoruldecj.ro

Author: Orsi Sarány