Green Infrastructure_Bucharest Case Study part of the LE:NOTRE platform
ECHIPA: Mihai Culescu, Alexandra Teodorescu, Ioana Tudora
This case study’s goal is to achieve a better understanding of the dynamics of urban development and of the different models for regional planning, in order to formulate a realistic planning strategy for Bucharest, in the context of the serious environmental problems it is facing.

We shall not insist on Bucharest's current, disastrous situation, especially from an ecological perspective. There are many analyses that underline this situation. But maybe the most serious problem that our city will face in the coming years is that its environmental problems will only get worse. This foreseen scenario is related to the present urban policy for developing a metropolitan greenbelt considering the way this project was conceived. A distant greenbelt, cut away from the urban structure, unconnected with the inner open spaces, would bring no real ecological or social contribution to the urban territory. On the other hand the scarce green spaces already existing in the urban area are under a furious attack of developers. In this context our goal is to draw up a possible vision for the development of a green structure meant to rectify this situation, vision based on the city's current structure and on the development opportunities of several land resources ignored so far. 

An important category of land resource consists in the city's industrial areas that are presently in decline. Bucharest’s industrial infrastructure has developed during two main stages: at the end of the nineteenth century and during the interwar period – thus generating a ring of industrial spaces at the edge of the historical center – and, the second industrialization stage, during the communist regime when new industrial platforms developed from the inside outward, thus creating a structure of wedges inside the urban tissue, and forming a type of „ridges” between the great residential ensembles. The deindustrialization process started after 1989 involved the desertion of many such sites and the displacement of production outside Bucharest's belt. This process left in its way many abandoned buildings, structures and wastelands, without an apparent functionality or use. And still... these seeming holes in the urban tissue have their own life and special dynamics, both from ecological and social point of view.
First of all, we can consider these spaces as being a „social” resource, for their role as extensions of the apartment, in collective housing neighborhoods – playgrounds for children, improvised sport fields, spaces for cleaning carpets, cars or... on the dark side – for disposing of garbage. Secondly, these sites have evolved into an ecological reserve with an important influence on a city level because these industrial wastelands have been gradually pervaded by various plant species. Therefore, these sites are all the more valuable for our capital, as they are home for a vast diversity of plant species adapted to „city life”. This fact increases the environmental potential and importance of these places, adding to their contribution towards adjusting the local micro-climate, regenerating the soil, adjusting the temperature, etc.

Paradoxically, even in some poor attempts to create legislation leading to some ecological strategies, these areas are not taken into consideration, as they are not regarded as “green” but “brown”. So Bucharest’s post-industrial wastelands are still black holes on the development plans. These lands are subjected to ever increasing land speculations, and, having limited chances when faced with the simplistic financial reason, they stand the risk of disappearing in the future, regardless of their potential or of the consequences such a loss will have on the city and its development.
This reality becomes even more absurd and sever as all the cities (that don't benefit from such territorial resources), are making extreme efforts in order to create a green network to connect the inner-city parks with the outer-city open spaces. Earlier we emphasized the way in wich Bucharest's industrial spaces were structured into wedges and rings: therefore, post-industrial wastelands follow an extremely favorable pattern for the development of a well balanced and quasi-continuous green network. Moreover, most of these spaces afferent to the railway and industrial networks are state-owned (ministries, local administrations ...), that supports the idea of a mixed development (public-private; habitat, activities, recreation, transport...). Taking into account these aspects, we should strongly consider the issue of protecting an including these territories into a city-scale green system. Our project incorporates the existing nature and the spontaneous social uses in a series of projects based on the functional and social diversity, considering a balanced urban development. Therefore, we are not talking of green spaces for the sake of green spaces, but rather we talk about the development of ecological networks and public spaces, which could revitalize the neighboring apartment buildings ensembles.
The goal of this project is to prove that, despite the bleak statistics, there is still a real possibility of at least partially restoring Bucharest's "character of islands of buildings amid a sea of green, instead of that of islands of green amid a sea of buildings". And to this end, the greatest resources are represented by these industrial areas, which seem to have been left with no apparent purpose. All it takes is political support.
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