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ArgumentNo. 14/2022

Experimental Architectural Gestures in the Diploma Projects. The Romanian School of Architecture – the 1970s vs. the 2020s

  • / Assoc.Phd.Arch, “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, RO
  • / Lecturer Phd. arch., “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, RO


The Romanian School of Architecture of the 1970s had predominantly been a constant mirror of the local practice. After the short liberalization of the 1960s, the rigours of economic efficiency and of standardized solutions had left a significant imprint on the architectural design process, while experimentation and innovation (otherwise essential to the field) had gradually disappeared. Therefore, within this imperative context of the ideological dictates that promoted an architecture focused on the cost indices, the School studio became the last “free” zone available for experimentation. The diplomas in particular frequently had a great potential for originality and courage since they embraced complex and extensive themes, often imagined in vanguardist and utopian scenarios, naturally masked by the tables of cost indices and by standardized slogans. The dominant themes of the early 1970s diplomas were the “systematizations” and the dwellings, either those of a collective typology (detached, as well as in cluster designs) or the “fillings”. In any case, the experimental gestures enclosed within these diplomas appear as exuberant, atypical and mostly detached from the socialist climate of the time. This study aims to identify, analyze and question the premises of these utopian approaches that partly countered the imposed dogma as well as to create a link across half a century to the present Romanian School of Architecture, in a world free of political ideology but marked instead by globalization. The research attempts to discover whether today’s diplomas, free from the normative pressure of economic efficiency imposed by the centralized economy, are stimulated by this freedom to seek experiments. Detached from the liberating and perhaps even subversive impulse of the 1970s, the study aims to identify the resources through which the diploma of today becomes an experimental gesture. Using archival research, document investigation and direct didactic experience, the study explores the premises that allow the diplomas to evolve as valuable experimental gestures while aiming to identify what has been lost and gained and whether these gestures will still bring value to the future world.


diploma project, architectural experiment, materiality, perception, standardization, the 1970s, globalization, the 2020s



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