THE “ROMANITA” COLLECTIVE HOUSING TOWER BUILDING (CHISINAU)
The building is situated at 29/2 Arheolog Ion Casian-Suruceanu Street, on the periphery of the “Valea Trandafirilor” Park, near the Republican Clinical Hospital. In the mid-70s due to the housing needs, local authorities decided to build a block of flats for small family units. It was designed and built between 1978 and 1984 by the architect O. Vronski and the engineer A. Marian, in collaboration with O. Blogu, S. Crani, N. Rebenko and P. Feldman. In terms of structural engineering, the building is an important engineering achievement of 70-80s, as living units on all 16 levels are designed and built in console, thus enhancing the slender image of the building.
After the 1990s, the status of social housing for small family units turned into “residential apartments” privatized by the owners. During the USSR period, in architectural design the flooring concept was under the political authorities’ directive. For that reason, an area of 6 square meters per each person had been imposed since the concept stage of the project. The principle of housing unit or housing cell was applied, consisting of two rooms assigned to each two people, with a hall and a bathroom. Communal kitchens, recreation rooms and technical areas were provided on each residential floor. This type of compartmenting represents the reality of the socialist period, when the constructed areas and the compliance code for the living space could not be changed by specialists without the approval of the central authorities. For instance, there are eight units with two rooms each at every residential level and they are connected by a circular corridor with common areas, which are perimetral and thus they benefit from having natural light. All rooms have access to the terrace.
With a height of approx. 77 meter, the tower known as “Romanita” was the tallest building in Chisinau. The main function of the building is to create collective housing and the building has a height of 2S + P +22 floors. The circular shape of the building and the dimensions with a vertical development were influenced by the proximity of the location to the “Valea Trandafirilor” Park. The architectural and spatial composition of the cylindrical building consists of four floors for utilities (laundry and cleaning room, drying room, household utility rooms) and 16 residential floors. At the two underground levels there are technical areas. From a functional point of view, the upper part of the building has two levels and should have accommodated a coffee bar and an area designed to host tourist trips for a panoramic view of Chisinau.
From a legal point of view, the residential building is divided as follows: the ground floor and the consecutive 3 floors (except for the stairs and utilities) and a part of the housing units (16 residential floors ) are privately owned, while the rest of the building (upper floors and technical facilities) is under the administration of the Municipal Enterprise of Housing Fund Management No. 9.
“Romanita” was initially supposed to be part of a larger compound consisting in tower building, cafeteria and sports hall. The entire compound was not completed; the adjacent buildings – the cafeteria and the sports hall – were not constructed, the perimeter infrastructure (courtyard with parking space and passages) were not built and the last two levels of “Romanita” were also unfinished. At the moment, “Romanita” is experiencing decline while being in a state of advanced decay. However, it is structurally stable and could be functional for another hundred years.
Another social problem is represented by the small size of the apartments and the density of the tenants, who have tried to expand the interior space by building makeshift outdoor terraces-balconies (of brick, cement brick or board). This type of illegal interventions distort the image of the building and create a real threat to the safety of users. First of all an increasing number of building superstructure loads the building structurally and since they were not authorized we cannot predict the behavior of the building in time. Secondly, many additions are made from extremely cheap and bad quality materials that increase the crash risk of self-made interventions.
On the ground floor there are areas for the reception and repartition of tenants, as well as former commercial spaces, with an entrance from both inside and outside, which are now disused. Vertical access is realized through a central traffic node, which includes a spiral staircase and three elevators, two for passengers and one for freight. There is also provided a fire escape staircase with access from balconies to residential floors.
Most of the commercial spaces (Food Store, Barber Shop, Shoe Repair Shop) that functioned during the 80s and were once located on the ground floor, are disused now and this is why the area has been vandalized, the joinery, the windows and the exterior concrete platforms, as well as the finishes and the interior installations being destroyed. The railings, in the areas where they are not missing, consist of minimal elements, thus they do not protect the inhabitants.
Although the construction has the function of a residential building, the housing typology of the socialist period no longer meets the current standards. Apart from this aspect, from the first visual contact, the building presents itself as an unhealthy and unsuitable environment for the function currently performed, because of the state of degradation in which it can be found.