Everything you need to know about the building that will reshape the historical center of Iai

PressOne is the media partner of an architecture competition that will bring to Iași an architecture collection designed by an international firm. The Iulius Group supports this series of articles, wishing to provide as much transparency as possible regarding this process.


“We shape the buildings we build, and then the buildings shape us.” Winston Churchill said about the impact of architecture on our lives.

After reviewing the four projects that competed in the Iași Architecture Competition, we sought to understand the vision behind the winning solution,”Bridging Time, Building Bridges Between CommunitiesDesigned by UNStudio architecture office from the Netherlands, to show how the new residential complex will reshape the historic center of Iai in the coming years.

What is the vision of the team that worked on the UNStudio project?

In an interview at the Future Cities conference, the architects Stella Nikolaaki and Deniz Manisali spoke about the approach by which architecture is put at the service of society:

“I believe that architecture can be part of change that contributes to the development of society, in collaboration with other disciplines. What we found interesting in Iași is the way history and future work together, as in a relationship based on co-dependence.

There is also a vibrant culture here that is almost boiling and forcing the city to open up to the future. But architecture only “sows the seeds.” It is the people who become the catalysts for change.

We can’t wait for architecture to change the world, that would be naive. People will change the world, and our mission is to improve people’s lives, step by step. That is why we have to be sensitive and responsive to people’s needs.”

Although the architecture office that won the competition is from the Netherlands, the great architects came from Turkey and Greece respectively, helping them understand the context and tensions involved in an innovative project in a former communist country.

“We are both Eastern Europeans, so we understand the desire for a Western company to come in and design something cool, but also the resistance to modernity.

I think we have an inferiority complex for the West, and the way we deal with it is by saying, “No, don’t come here, we’re good enough.” But at the same time it’s also an opportunity, because the openness to innovation is somehow greater here than in the West, where things are more rigid.

Romania has a huge number of communist blocs. What will you do with them? We discussed this the first time I came to Iasi. I think it can be reused for the same purpose it was made for, but at the same time the space should become less dense and more breathable.”

What has been added to the “Bridging Time, Bridging Communities” solution designed by UNStudio?

UNStudio Architects went beyond the requirements of the design competition theme in an effort to understand the local context, the site’s significance in the city’s history, and the profound needs of the community.

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In addition to the lack of green space and dependency on historical monuments, which arose from the public consultation conducted by the developer, UNStudio Architects felt the need for a place that would bring together the residents of Iaşi from the creative industries.

We like to build buildings that contain spaces.”said architect Stella Nikolaaki of UNStudio office tradition.

Thus the winning project is characterized by an imposing inner courtyard, full of life, and a high, transparent ground floor that the authors call “the horizon”. This level that would house co-working spaces or art galleries was not dictated by the design theme, but a solution the architects found to maximize public spaces and could be adapted to the needs of the community.

The same thing happened with the height of the building, UNStudio Architects lower three floors, nearly 10 meters below the maximum height allowedFrom the Corniche Palace of Culture.

Taking into account discussions regarding the height of the tower that was originally proposed for the site on Sf. Andrei, extending it horizontally rather than vertically is an innovative technical solution, making the building integrate into the urban landscape and be almost invisible from the level of avenue tefan cel Mare.

The requirement to respect the vision cones was solved more subtly than the competing projects, by creating openings framing the views of passersby in the Palace of Culture or the Monastery of the Three Priests.

Structurally, the UNStudio project proposes a hybrid system of concrete and wood, which significantly reduces carbon emissions, along with other natural materials, photovoltaic panel systems and heat pumps.

The winning project uses dynamic design principles, with green spaces spread across public areas, balconies, and even on the rooftop. Generous vegetation will lower the temperature in the area a few degrees and collect rainwater, which will be reused for irrigation.

What are the next steps and when is the building ready?

The project proposed by the Dutch Architectural Office is not just a prototype, but a realistic representation of the building to be built near the Gheorghe Asachi School.

The project will go through a complex approval process involving several institutions, including the District Commission for Historic Antiquities.

Moreover, specialized committees from the Ministry of Culture and Iaşi City Council will work to amend the detailed urban plan, which defines the proportions, volumes or appearance of the facades.

Iulius Grup representatives appreciate it The approval process can take up to a yearAnd after approving the urban zonal plan, the Palace Extension project in Balat – SF. Andrew It will be implemented in two yearsAccording to company representatives.

How will the area between Palatului Square and SF André Street change?

Palas Campus, the complex on Sf. Andrei, which will house, among other things, Amazon’s Iași offices, will open at the end of this year.

Architect Mihai Drico, a member of the jury that determined the winning solution, says the UNStudio project It connects the historic Upper Town, the old city center and the tourist district par excellence, and Lower Iaşi, of relatively recent construction with a mostly modest built background.

In this way, the ‘white spot’ in the city center disappears and the two towns, which are separated along the promenade between the Church of St Tre Hirarhi and up to the Red Bridge, will be interconnected and will ensure multiple connections between them to the lower districts and the town centers for the benefit of the inhabitants of the whole town.

This model for the reconnection of some destroyed surfaces, the “scars” of the city in the surrounding urban context, covers a clear definition of urban renewal.

The way to solve this urban integration could be a model for the renewal of other neighborhoods of the city, where the vast majority are in the same situation, have little or no connections with the rest of the city, and are devoid of the public. Spaces as poles to attract the community.”

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