THE NATIONAL ARCHITECTURE BIENNIAL Thirteenth edition ”100 Years of Architecture in Romania”


Thirteenth edition

”100 Years of Architecture in Romania”

text: Ileana TUREANU

The National Architecture Biennial is the most important event of the architectural profession which has been organized uninterruptedly (since 1994) by the Union of Architects in Romania.

The concept of the Biennial is well defined for each edition. It is proposed by the board of the Union of Architects in Romania, being structured as a cultural program with a complex content and attracting great interest from both participants and general public. In 2018, the theme of the National Architecture Biennial (BNA) was”100 Years of Architecture in Romania”. It was a historical edition, not only by the festivity of the moment, but also by the wide participation. The thirteenth edition took place all over the country, which made it the broadest and the most disputed of all. It had the largest and youngest participation, as well as ingenious projects, which proved that quality architecture can be found countrywide. The National Architecture Biennial emphasized that we have a young generation of architects who are talented, committed, available and enthusiast. Therefore, the relay was successfully taken over.


We should not forget that being Romanians does not mean merely living in Romania, but having Romania inside ourselves. Architecture is the chronicle of society at a given moment, which cannot be more coherent than the context that generated it. The built environment where we live, which shapes our life and personality, is not the exclusive work of architects. Nevertheless, the final outcome is the only thing that counts for the inhabitants, as they cannot dissociate the results of architectsʹ work from the influence of their Clients (with or without specialty knowledge), the competence and professionalism of local  authorities (with or without a vision or discernment) or the quality of buildersʹ execution (who use skilled workmen or day labourers).Therefore, the National Biennial is dedicated to all participants in the creation process of our built environment.

This edition of the Biennial took place in a context which lacks national investment policies and programs, as well as public design competitions, where architectsʹ energy and creativity could rely only on the market of private investors.  It is the role of professional organizations to mobilize the creative power, to restore architectsʹ confidence in national values, in enthusiasm, human and cultural landmarks and, as such, to allow them to succeed and make their way, here and now.


The 2018 edition doubled the number of competition sections – the main event of the National Architecture Biennial – which reflects the national architectural phenomenon. Recently appeared fields have been included, aiming at rendering, as truthfully as possible, the complexity of architectural events and contemporary expressions. The inclusion of the young architect generation in the national competition has also been intended.

11 sections of the competition have thus resulted:  Residential Architecture; Architecture of Public Buildings; Restoration. Consolidation. Buildings Returned to the City; Interior Design; Inclusive Public Space; Rural; Green Architecture and Renewable Energies; Emerging Architects; Diploma Projects; Architecture Publications; Architecture Photography; Architectural Event and Street as a Stage.

A new section was Green Sustainable Architecture and Renewable Energies, a field which does not have a significant critical mass in our country yet. In many other states, however, it encompasses a research and experimental area that will play an important role in the future and makes the object of national programs and policies.

A new section was dedicated to the rehabilitation of valuable architectural and cultural buildings and their reintroduction in city life, despite not being included on the List of Monuments. Valuable heritage buildings have their own history and, provided that their owners are persuaded to preserve them and give them contemporary functions, the attractiveness and distinctive aspect of localities will thus increase.

The new section on Architecture Photography emphasizes this efficient means of knowledge, communication and education in architecture, which is also an artistic field. The saying according to which”a picture is worth a thousand words” is more valid than ever and we should not ignore a field where Romanian architects excel.

Architectural Event and Street as a Stage deals with communication as well. It consisted in festivals organized close or within the confines of some monuments, summer schools, traditional handicrafts schools and street events pointing up urban phenomena, directly or indirectly. It also showcased exhibition pavilions representing Romanian culture in international fairs.  All these events have lately become artistic creation.

The section entitled Rural highlighted experiences dedicated to the revitalization of neglected areas. Our abandoned villages, which lose their identity, become depopulated; forget their traditional occupations and techniques, their handicrafts and traditions, have been studied by young architects who can aid in the effort to revitalize them. They raised the alarm by stressing that preserving the rural values is a fight against the clock.

Diploma Projects. Emerging Architects was also a new section, dedicated to the young people who could express their ideal and aspirations through the graduation project.


The Biennial taking place in seven cities of the country was also a first. The awarding ceremonies and the collateral events of the sections of the competition-exhibit (conferences, debates, expos and book launches) took place in spaces with a special significance for the evolution of architecture. The capital hosted the Gala for the launching of the Biennial, in the spaces of the Bucharest National Theatre, recently restructured by arch. Romeo Belea, while the various sections were held in other cities. Thus: the gala for the urban projects and restoration sections was held in Oradea, the city with the largest number of projects dedicated to the renovation of historical buildings; the section of publications was concluded at the „Gh. Asachi” Library in Iasi, one of the most remarkable libraries of Europe; the final of the Rural section took place in Cluj; the awarding ceremony of the Photo and Architectural Event sections were held inside the Citadel of Târgu Mureș; finally, Brăila hosted the debates on the green architecture of the future, as a reminder of the Danube harbourʹ s tradition to promote new technologies.

Each section generally awarded one prize, in order to emphasize its special importance and significance. Nevertheless, the Biennial had a much larger number of worthy projects.

Special Prizes

Special prizes were also awarded, such as the Opera Omnia Medal – for an exceptional career in the field of architecture and also for the work of an architect who made a remarkable contribution to the development of contemporary architecture. For the first time, the Opera Omnia trophy did not reward the end of a career. Yet, it embodied the homage paid by the profession to an architect in full creative power, at the climax of his career, who currently enjoys great prestige. This is an expression of our need for models, landmarks and personalities. The prize is awarded by the board of our organization, on the proposal of the UAR president. The Medal of the UAR President can be awarded to any work in the exhibition, without consulting any jury. The Prize of Arhitectura Magazine is awarded to a work with a special original subject, approach, vision or message, without consulting the jury. In their turn, the sponsors awarded special prizes to a number of selected works, based on the specificity of their activity field, after having consulted the sectionʹ s jury.

Record-breaking participation and events

The participation was a real success. As long as the number of projects submitted to the competition triples, the objectives are apparently achieved. The high level of participation indicated a certain pressure and expectation, a growing interest and a dynamics of the field.

There were also parallel events to the competition’s exhibition and the Awarding galas, among which: the architecture movies of the filmmaker Mirel ILIEȘIU; the most recent issues of Arhitectura Magazine on the themes: ”Women in architecture”, ”Industrial architecture”, ”Post-restoration” and ”Participatory architecture”; the presentation of the most recent book based on the materials in the UAR archives and dedicated to Ioana Grigorescu, an exceptional architect; the exhibition entitled Henriette Delavrancea Gibory and Horia Creangă; the series of 52 Architecture Books supervised by arch. Augustin Ioan, published by Paideia Publishing House; the day dedicated to secondary architectural education, held in Sibiu, on the topic ”Architecture must be learned since childhood”; the symposium entitled ”The sacred dimension in architecture”, held in Iasi and moderated by arch. Augustin IOAN; in Bucharest, the exhibition and lecture ”Informal settlement and participatory planning”, delivered by the renowned Serbian researcher Vladimir MACURA; in Oradea, the lecture of the Belgian architect Werner DESEMPELEARE, who presented the metamorphosis of the Belgian town of  Brugges – one of the most visited places in Europe, in which he had been directly involved.


This Thematic Album is a consistent document, as it proves that Romanian architecture is in good hands with a talented, committed, competent and imaginative generation.

The amount of over 600 projects displayed in this edition of the Biennial is testimony to the special potential of Romanian architecture and the assurance of a certain, serious and competitive future.

Perhaps the album should have contained more authors and architectural teams, but the limitations of the typographical space did not allow presenting them all. A CD was issued, which includes all the participating projects in the National Architecture Biennial 2018, which is available in the UAR Library.

Although the BNA prizes were quite a few, being awarded with extreme care, there were many valuable projects. 

In this issue, contrary to the current practice we generally use, we have tried to ask some well-known architects to present their younger colleagues who had caught their attention during the Biennial, the talents who had interested them. We asked them to describe the future values of national architecture. They could choose to refer either to participants or to jury members. Many of them replied, hence, the resulting portrait gallery is available herein.

Young people must be exasperated to be continuously told that they need to learn more… Mastery requires time, while creativity does not depend on it. They have the right to be known, listened to and have a say. And I believe they are right.

In this gallery you will also find well-known names (some of them were asked to recommend young architects, in their turn), but the fact that they are perceived  as     ”young assets” emphasizes the originality of their professional approach.

Link to

The National Biennial Awards of Architecture 2018 edition (romanian)

BNA 2018- 600 For the Future




Comments are closed.

Powered by Jasper Roberts - Blog