Iosif Sava House

40 Sfinții Apostoli St., sector 5, Bucharest

Looking from the Saint Spiridon Vechi church down Vânători Street we see two parallel cities: on one side, there is that Bucharest as outlined through to the inter-war period, with a front composed of remains of the old Uranus neighbourhood, on the other side, there is that Bucharest over which the heavy curtain of Communist blocks fell, coupled with the voids left following the demolitions (continued after the 1990s). At perspective’s end appears the inter-war building that marks the intersection with Sfinții Apostoli Street, formerly identified as “the block with a tobacco shop on the ground floor”.

The semicylinder implanted on the corner, a vertical accent unfolding on seven storeys, is subtly extended by a prism facing Vânători Street and which directs the sight while maintaining the appearance of a supple silhouette. From the main body two wings grow, slightly protruding from the console, which don’t reach up the maximum established height but instead retreat successively with each upper storey. The juxtaposition between the building’s cylinder fragment and the church towers creates a tension within which objects will not cancel one another, a merit of inter-war systematisation noticeable even in the present, decomposed form of the area. But it takes an intense mnemonic mental exercise to reconstruct the image of the neighbourhood and the building’s presence within, to see beyond the brutal interventions that implanted harmful foreign organisms or left deep open wounds in the city’s form and memory. Here, the voids are an extremely powerful presence, and those buildings still standing often float isolated, deprived of the built matter that once was joined or adjacent to them, letting us glimpse both today’s and yesterday’s reality.

One of the few things that still remind us of what once was is the memorial plaque commemorating the described building’s association with Iosif Sava, one of its inhabitants.

Andreea Mihaela Chircă