Blaj Cultural Palace Refurbishment - Alba - Romania
The Cultural Palace was designed in 1930 by the architect Victor Smigelschi, and its primary purpose was to host ASTRA Cultural Association’s events.
It was renovated in the 1960s to provide the city a cinema and library, as well as spaces for the local history and ethnography museum, and a wire broadcasting centre, but it was largely ruined after a major fire in 1995.
It remained a ruin until 2012, when the municipality initiated a project for the rehabilitation of the Palace.
The building would be predesignated to incorporate a flexible multipurpose hall which could host a wide variety of cultural events such as concerts, galas, theatre plays, conferences, exhibitions etc. The building would also serve as the headquarters for the Alba branch of the Romanian Academy.
With the benefit of historical research and with technical expertise, it was decided that the spatial and functional design concept of the building would follow the initial project. That decision meant that the alterations that were made in order to accommodate the later institutions had to be removed.
The new design follows two directions: firstly, to evoke the recent tragic history of the building and secondly, to create a flexible interior and exterior space that can easily be adapted to the needs of the community that it serves.
The main hall becomes a multi-purpose space by removing all the seating and through the addition of more daylight through the new roof lights.
Other small reversible changes (such as the metal structure of the roof, the brick cladding and the suspended ceiling) remind the visitor of the recent fire.
[project selected by Ana Maria Marin]