Communist apartment buildings which make up much if not most of Bucharest’s residential area are reaching their expiration date, making some of them unsafe for their inhabitants without immediate intervention or refurbishment. The question of demolition vs refurbishment has been asked numerous times with answers varying, depending on the location and proximity to expiration date.
The more conveniant of the two options is clearly refurbishment as it should make the entire process easier both for owners as well as local authorities. The sad truth is that regardless of which option is easier or more efficient both owners and authorities choose to simply ignore the potentially catastrophic repercussion of expired buildings and aren’t doing anything about the issue.
Of the 760.000 buildings in Bucharest, built up to 1992, over 80.000 were built during 1945 – 1964. From over 57.400 concrete condos that are still lived in today over 6.000 have been built between 1910 and 1970. While some buildings might have been designed to last far longer than their expiration date would suggest, structural problems are a rampant issue, particularly due to 1840 and 1977 earthquakes.
Market experts say that the entire building fund of Bucharest has structural issues with demolition being only discussed in tight circles by industry professionals with no viable consideration shown from the designated authorities. Most suggest consolidation, however, the same experts advise against this method on any buildings that don’t have historic value due to the reduced time it may add to a buildings lifespan. Specialists conclude that consolidation is for the most part a waste of both resources and time, one which can be avoided with a well thought out and implemented plan by local authorities.
Rehabilitated buildings can pose problems when it comes to the newly added insulation. Numerous factors such as the initial state of the building, its design and quality of the materials and craftsmanship can alter the result with even the best of intention falling short.
Architects often mention that a lot of communist built apartments tried to replicate Western comforts with little to no attention given to build quality. Rehabilitation and insulation of these buildings can be a pointless and costly exercise which will still leave owners with a big problem they have to face 5 to 10 years from now.
Demolition is a preferred option in other countries such as France the Netherlands and particularly Russia which chose to demolish over 25 million square meters of expired living space.