Politicians are not invincible – Something that British politicians should perhaps learn as they play games with their idolism about Brixit and ignore the people and the economy of the country.
On 21st December 1989, Nicolae Ceausescu delivered his final speech to the people of Bucharest from the first floor of the government building in (now) Revolution Square. He badly misread the mood of the people who had press-ganged to attend the speech, after the government apparently killed thousands of people a few days before in a revolt in Timisoara.
80.000 people listened to the speech as the mood changed from compliance to rebellion. Panicky bribes for increased wages did not work and Ceaucescu and his wife Elana only managed to leave by helicopter. However, within a few days they were captured, tried and executed by firing squad.
As a result public buildings and Ceausescu’s homes were occupied; some were pillaged and destroyed, such was the anger of the people. One of these was the headquarters of a State Security department, Paucescu House, near the Square, which was effectively destroyed with only the historic 19th century façade remaining.
Today the building has a new lease of life as one of the best examples in Bucharest of retaining a historic facade while constructing a new building behind and above it – there are others mainly linked to hotel redevelopments such as the Novotel opening in 2006 behind a neoclassical theatre façade and the new Hotel Garden Inn. Having sat empty since 1989, the development from 2003 to 2007 restored the old Paucescu Hous façade and connected it into new office accommodation, part occupied by the Union of Romanian Architects.
Both the new and the old are of high quality and, from a distance, it is an interesting combination, especially at the upper level where the new building sails out over the old. However, close up, it is a disappointment when you see how the new building doesn’t quite fit behind the old facade with the old window jambs exposed as if an archaeological ruin. These details at the lower floors could have been so much better.
This project designed by the architects Dan Marin and Zeno Bogdanescu has created some controversy but it is an interesting approach to saving an old façade and pinning it onto a contemporary building behind.