On October 7th, together with Romanian architect Adina Molden, I descended into the depths of the Earth to see the subterranean spectacle Salina Turda. 13 million years in the making, the salt mine, which is located on the outskirts of the Transylvanian city of Turda, is one of the world's most extra-ordinary human/natural architectural hybrids.
Believed to date from the Dacian period, and first documented in 1271, its geological treasure, salt, filled the coffers of Hungarian royalty. In the thirteenth century salt was worth more than gold, and salt boulders were used to reward the loyalty of Teutonic knights.
"There is talk that this pit is so famous, that it is hardly matched in the entire Orient" Johann Fridwaldszky, Magni Principatus Transilvanie Mineralogy
In World War II, by which time mining operations had ceased, Salina Turda provided locals with shelter from bombing raids. Today, the mine is ranked one of the world's top twenty underground sites to visit. Its every view like a spread from Architectural Digest, or a James Bond film, the subterranean wonder brings the best in human imagination and engineering together. But, what infuses Salina Turda with magic, as well as salt, is baring witness to the sheer beauty of its ancient, yet ever evolving geological formations.
Inspirational in spades, Salina Turda is a profoundly special place, which I much hope to visit once more in the not distant future. If ever you have the opportunity, I much recommend you take a trip to Romania to visit the mine for yourself!
See footage of Salina Turda at the link below:
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of joining Charles Phu (Office for Architectural Culture), David Cash (Chairman, BDP), Prof. Irena Bauman (Bauman Lyons Architects), and architect Serban Sturdza to judge the Architecture Conference & Expo Awards. Entries showcased Romania’s best architectural practice across four categories: Community Projects; Restoration, Conservation, and Urban Renewal; Overseas Projects; and Young Architects.
Somes Delivery (below) by Mihai Mateiu with Vlad Awls, Bogdan Vrabie Adriana Magerusan, Alexandra Bacanu, Marius Catalin Moga, Dan Burzo, Ana Felvinczi and Cristina Bodnarescu, won the Community Projects Award. Somes Delivery turned an unloved river-side into a vibrant communal space able to facilitate wide-ranging activities - connecting people with one another, and with the natural world.
The award for Restoration, Conversion and Urban Renewal was won by Animal Farm (below), and built by architect Vlad Barladeanu with Octavia Pope, Justin Smith, Ilinca Moroianu, Andreea Navarca, Andrew Nicholas, and Alexander Mantoiu. Animal Farm elegantly restored an historic barn, and in the process breathed new life in to a small rural community.
Nomadic Shelter (below) by Simon Bengtsson, Garigga Josep Tarres, Benny Kwok, Mihara Mardare and Piotr Paczkowski won Best Overseas Architect Project Award. A stunning, ecologically considered design, the structure is described as an intervention “to create a very simple prototype shelter for fire, sleep and meetings”. Easy to transport, the building system lends itself to reconfiguration and adaption, while using only two modular wooden boxes, which stack together manually.
The Young Architect of the Year Award was won by Bogdan Demetrescu with Oana Greece, Ioana Hariga, Alma Preda, Radu Dorgo, Andrew Lazar, and Adrian Mihai Ovidiu Mihutescu, for Urban Green Artery (below). The project illustrates understanding of the need to connect urban green spaces, and adopt a systems approach to urban ecology.
Special recognition was given to entries including Cerc Boldesti community centre, which brings together several sustainable components in an understated design that harnesses the potential and the beauty of natural materials.
Melissa Sterry, PhD, design scientist, systems theorist, futurologist, and serial founder inc. Bionic City®.
Asking the question "how would nature design a city" since 2010.
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