UNStudio’s solution won the international architecture competition organized by IULIUS for a new development in downtown Iași

Deniza Cristian 01/07/2022 | 13:56

The architectural complex designed by UNStudio for the international competition organized in Iași by IULIUS company was selected by a specialist jury as the winning solution for an upcoming development set to become a contemporary landmark in the downtown area of the city.


Described by the members of the jury as “the most complete and balanced answer to the complete set of criteria in the competition theme,” the project proposed by UNStudio provided a highly creative and innovative solution to all the challenges generated by the specific features of this valuable and dominant historic and cultural heritage-laden site.

After two days of deliberations, the jury comprised of architects Șerban Țigănaș, Augustin Ioan, Dragoș Ciolacu, Mihai Corneliu Drișcu, and Matei Bogoescu, and historian Cătălin Turliuc, specialized in terms of heritage, urban planning, contemporary architecture and public realm enhancement, named the winner of the international architecture competition that challenged contenders to propose a contemporary architectural complex that would complete the current urban landscape of downtown Iași, that is defined by iconic landmarks of various architectural ages.

The four solutions submitted by the reputable architecture firms that were invited have equally demonstrated remarkable depth of research and knowledge of the complex and particular context of the construction site for the upcoming development. The strategies for addressing this context have been different, none of them failing to pay attention to the quality of public spaces, to the essential views toward historical monuments, to nature and the social component, and to highlighting recent archaeological discoveries in the area.

“We looked forward to the four contestants’ answers to the competition theme, knowing from the start how difficult the jury’s task would be to decide between them. All the entries were of a high quality in terms of meeting the required criteria, and we found that each of the firms participating in this competition had made a consistent conceptual effort. We are happy to have been able to name a winning project that can reset the relationship between contemporary and historic architecture, both locally and, why not, nationwide,” said the chairman of the jury, Ph.D. Architect Șerban Țigănaș.

“Bridging Time, Bridging Communities”

The project was created by UNStudio from Amsterdam architects and was developed following the “develop around the theme of City Horizon” principle. In its reasoning, the jury concludes that “the volume is flat and the lowest of all the proposals. The horizon of the city is in fact an extension of the plateau of the Palace of Culture Square, which lends itself to a 360 degrees panoramic view of Iasi and its urban scape. The spatial connection between upper and lower levels of the site is mediated by the planted parcourse, a real oasis.”

The jury also noted that “framing the perspectives towards the monuments is a remarkable strategy that divides the plinth into six different volumes, with pedestrian accesses in between them. An urban chamber is created as a desirable destination within the city for both the public and the locals. The atmosphere in this urban room is complex, different, and generous, with many overlapping layers where nature and contemporary architecture collaborate in creating socially activated spaces. The proposal is very flexible and futureproof in both housing and public areas.”

Another aspect appreciated by the specialists was that “the entry makes an intelligent use of continuous flowing spaces and separation between common and private spaces, inside and out, all packed into a contemporary architecture which is both clear and subtle. The sustainable side of the entry offers an advanced hybrid structure that might remarkably reduce the carbon footprint.”

“I am speechless. We hoped we would win, but did not expect it would happen, because all the offices designed amazing projects. We are delighted, but also curious because this will be a very challenging project. We are very enthusiastic about this, but also understand the great responsibility that comes with managing all the challenges of this project. I believe this will ultimately be a very rewarding endeavor,” said Stella Nikolakaki, Senior Architect and Project Manager at UNStudio.

Arjan Dingsté, Director and Senior Architect UNStudio, who was in Iași for the solution presentation event, said at the opening that: “this is my fourth time coming to Iași and each time I discover something new. We have studied very, very hard to create a project that observes the city monuments. I hope you will support our vision, because we were very excited to work on this project. We have brought a very sustainable project for the city, but also for future generations, and we are very honored to be part of this endeavor.”

IULIUS Company has organized this competition, wanting to develop a project based on the city residents’ vision, the expectations of a community and the aspirations of a generation. “Three years ago, when we set out on this journey, IULIUS Group promised to seek out the best architecture companies in the world in a competition that would produce an architectural proposal for an area of immense importance for the people of Iași. An area of such historical complexity and value has led us to reach out to world leading specialists in the industry. We were impressed by all the contending projects, and we believe that each of them proposed a valuable vision, once again confirming the high-class expertise of the participant architecture companies. We hope that the people of Iași will be proud of the upcoming project. The finalization of this competition is the first phase, and what follows now is the normal course of a development, namely the endorsement, authorization, and public consultation phases, which will result in the final project,” said Raluca Munteanu, Development Manager at IULIUS.

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