Located south of Bucharest city centre, the site of Ucentre sits between two of the largest parks in the city, Parcul Carol and Parcul Tineretului, both playing a major role in a scarce local green infrastructure, within a dense network of residential blocks. Bucharest ranks with one of the lowest percentages of green areas comparing between European capitals, and therefore maintaining, enhancing and creating new public green areas is key for any future development.
The site was first part of the Bucharest TBC sanatorium, then used as a war hospital by the state and as the dermatological hospital until the 2000’s. During this transition the large piece of land stood as a virtual green connection between the two parks, separated Serban Voda, a busy boulevard linking the south of the city.
Our scope was to articulate the new office development with its immediate surroundings in several ways. First at ground level by creating an open plaza which can make the transition between the street and the building, then a dense green buffer on the lateral borders and back of the building to soften the connection with neighbours’ sites, and at the upper levels, a system of stepped green areas with large open terraces, creating a visual connection and complementing the functions of the parks.
The main plaza at the lower level is one of the key places of the development. It is shaped by the various lines of movement from different directions, it is a space for informal meetings and encounters between office workers and passers-by, a transition space between the public and the private. A generous mineral surface allows movement through, and 3 green islands help in creating a microclimate that will encourage users to occupy the space in the hot summer months given the south-east orientation of the courtyard which is placed directly above the basement parking slab. The steep slope along the boulevard, and level differences across the land made more difficult connecting the street level to the entrances, and therefore sets of stairs and platforms were proposed, creating spaces for informal seating aside of the movement flows.
The elevated green islands were placed in the plaza, their position and configuration were shaped by the positions of the entrances to the buildings and the access points through the stairs and the portico. Trees were planted in the green islands creating a canopy that can provide shade and protection, but at the same time not blocking the view of the entrances from the street level to allow the height necessary for the soil volume to hold the trees, the islands were formed by a curved custom-made concrete bench encircling the whole perimeter. Due to the large dimension and the irregular shape the elements had to be custom made and produced by Escofet in Barcelona to then be shipped to Bucharest.
The upper terraces play an important role, not only by adding green surface to the building, but also by recreating the pre-existing visual and natural link between the parks. This way, from the surrounding streets we can see a continuation of the green mass through the large terraces of the building, shading the slab and facades, and creating more places for informal meetings, lunch or breaks. By populating the terraces with a combination of local and imported perennials, shrubs and deciduous trees we can now see a number insects coming to feed from the planters, and birds using the terraces as stop over, adding a sense of wellbeing to the place as a whole.
At the back of the building a denser planting layout was designed, populating heavily the space with Betulas, and fruit trees, within a dense bed of Carex at ground level. A small allotment for the office workers was setup, where seasonal berries and aromatic species are planted during the year, creating a more secluded space for the ones eager to take advantage from the local production.
In UCenter we had the advantage of starting from an early phase working with the developer and the design team. We looked for a concept which can satisfy the future tenants needs, but keeping in foreground the impact of the development in the city, the need to maintain the green components of the site, and the desire to enhance its articulation by creating open, and accessible places for public use, with new functions at ground level. We worked from concept to detailed design, as well as been in charge of the execution of all landscaping works, to ensure the final outcome would be according to the initial ideas.
Client: Forte partners
Christian Beros, Architect, Urban designer
Esenghiul Abdul, Architect, Urban designer
Cristiano del Toro, Landscape Architect
Nicolae Petrencu, Architect
Architecture offices involved in the design:
Calea Floreasca 240 B, București 014475