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Marina Andronescu

MA work

Threshold Politics

Architectural mechanisms to improve environmental conditions


My research focuses on Romania’s capital, Bucharest, where a community of children has colonised the vast web of underground pipes that provides the city with central heating. These “children” are the surviving hallmark of Ceausecu’s regime, a government that abolished basic human rights and carried a drastic urban discourse of “systematisation”.

The main consequence of this repression was the abandonment of more than 100,000 children in the precariousness of the country’s infamous orphanages who, after the 1989 Revolution, colonised the tele-heating system.

Throughout time, they developed a series of urban tactics to improve their living conditions. These tactics developed as thresholds. One has to imagine a narrow tunnel chamber of 10 m2 with an average of 20 individuals inhabiting it, the convection of the 90°C water pipes, the conduction from the pipes to their bodies and from bodies to bodies, a place where the only dispersion or evaporation happens through the manhole.

These thresholds became a way of breaking from their thermal suffocation and gaining environmental control, but also a way of claiming back their identity.

Using thermal imaging became for me a medium to reveal the reality of living conditions and bring awareness to the whole Romanian society of the oppressive power they have been subjectified to.

With this mode of representation, I developed a new architectural language to capture the problem and envision the city not through its typical architectural conventions, with a ground axis separating under and above ground, but a continuous space where both are indiscernible, where spaces expand and fluctuate beyond their borders. Architecture where heat zones become spaces, where bodies become spaces.

My project proposes the development of different architectural mechanisms to improve the collective current environmental conditions in order to facilitate their transition above. The project is taking into account the existing disparities of temperature distribution of Ceausecu's spaces and recomposes inhabitable climates through passive means in order to improve modes of living.

These mechanisms for environmental control function in very pragmatic conditions, specific to Bucharest’s architecture and the collective's history, creating a system that can be applied in different situations across the capital.

These interventions are not simply passive mechanisms that change temperature. Their subtleties, such as adding a wall or changing its thickness are catalyst that allows them to spend more time above because they feel more comfortable. They allow for more social interactions to take place, not only between them but also with people from the above with whom they negotiate. In a long term, the intention of this urban system would be to bring them permanently above.

 

Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Architecture

    Programme

    MA Architecture, 2016

  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons) Architecture: RIBA Part 1, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, 2012; Foundation Diploma in Art & Design, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, 2008
  • Experience

  • Junior architect, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Vienna, 2013–14; Architectural assistant, Querkraft Architekten, Vienna, 2012–13; Restoration of Paintings and Mural Paintings Assistant, Corneliu Andronescu, Lower Normandy, 2008–present
  • Exhibitions

  • "The Deindustrial Revolution", Embassy of Japan, London, 2016
  • Awards

  • First prize, RIBA London Regional Award, 2012