Iași City represented in the Romanian pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture

Deniza Cristian 12/05/2023 | 12:04

IULIUS Company’s endeavor to bring together four of the world’s greatest architecture firms – Foster+Partners, MVRDV, UNStudio, and Zaha Hadid Architects – in a specialized competition designed to produce the best urban planning solution for a new development in downtown Iași, is presented as a model of best practice at an international scale.


By virtue of the competition itself and its winning solution, Iași City is part of the Romanian pavilion at the Venice Biennale, one of the most prestigious international cultural events dedicated to artistic creation in the fields of visual arts, architecture, music, theater, dance, and cinema.

In the 18th edition of the International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, Romania will be represented by the “HERE, NOW, THERE” project, winner of the public competition organized to this end by the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Romanian Cultural Institute, and the Union of Romanian Architects. A concept curated and coordinated by architect Emil Ivănescu and Simina Filat, the Romanian pavilion includes projects that present different architectural and design practices in terms of regenerating, rethinking and revaluating the existing context, all with social impact. The examples on display represent a new way of educating through research, innovation and social activation, viewed as solutions for the future. The international architecture competition organized last year by IULIUS Company (A Iași for the Future) and the winning solution in this competition (“Bridging Time, Bridging Communities”) authored by prestigious Dutch architecture company UNStudio, are representative in this respect.

“I believe this is the first time that a representative project makes Iași City a part of the Romanian pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. This is because last year we saw an exceptional urban insertion approach in this city, carried out in the form of an international competition with the world’s leading architects. It is a project that addresses the concept we proposed (Here.Now.There), being a model of integrated revitalization, with an awareness of the sustainability and honesty towards the existing resources and context, but also towards memory and history. I believe that such endeavors set a new direction for urban and architectural development, which I encourage, for the proposed synergy, from social, professional and economic aspects, to restorations, rehabilitations or new interventions of buildings or public spaces,” said architect Emil Ivănescu, curator of the Romanian pavilion project at the Venice Biennale of Architecture.

“When we embarked on this journey, IULIUS promised to bring some of the world’s most important architecture companies in a competition that targeted a site of substantial complexity and historical value. We approached this challenge with the enthusiasm of big dreams, but also with the sense of responsibility that comes from understanding that this is a community project. Presenting the urban regeneration endeavors undertaken by IULIUS in the Romanian pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture is the materialization of our wish to remain involved in the development of Iași, while creating a model of good practice for architectural and urban development intervention in a protected site, as a public-private dialogue. We intend to continue working on projects that boldly convey the city’s ambitions and its confidence in the future,” said Raluca Munteanu, Development Manager at IULIUS.

Iași is present in one of the most important international events dedicated to visual arts and architecture, a place where new concepts on urban strategies are developed and which confers a high level of notoriety. The east-Romanian city is represented by the international architecture competition organized by IULIUS Company to create a new development in the downtown area, which harmoniously blends with the urban context marked by cultural, historical and heritage elements, while also reflecting a contemporary vision of architecture, and is capable to stand the test of time. This was a complex and difficult undertaking that marked a first for the private sector’s approach to urban development. Firstly, the site raised multiple complex urban planning, topographical, technical, environmental challenges, as well as challenges related to the built heritage, the highlighting of archaeological findings, and the criteria set by the architects and specialists. To provide a better visualization of the context and understanding the integration of the new development, the company has produced two different scale models of the historic center. One of the models, which includes the winning solution, is also on display in the International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

Secondly, the challenge was accepted by studios that created some of the most ambitious architectural landmarks in major cities of the world (e.g., the Apple HQ–Apple Park California by Foster+Partners, the Markthal Rotterdam mixed-use building by MVRDV, the Four Frankfurt mixed-use complex by UNStudio, and the National Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome by Zaha Hadid Architects), who worked for the first time in Iași, Romania, in a specialized competition.

Last but not least, this entailed a participatory type of collaboration, as the competition theme was also formulated to include how the people of Iași see the development of their city, as revealed by an online consultation with more than 2,000 respondents, and the solutions were presented and showcased in architectural events open to the public.

The 2023 edition of the Venice Biennale of Architecture will run from May 20th to November 26th. The projects will then be part of an exhibition that will tour the major cities in Romania.

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