portmanteau.ro

Spend a moment sitting in the shoes of Bucharest.

Romanian authoritarian ruler Nicolae Ceauşescu infamously left a heavy mark on the capital city of Bucharest with a massive urban planning scheme known as the Centrul Civic. In the 1980s, the project displaced 40,000 people, demolished churches and monasteries in the way, and replaced it all with 8 square kilometers of communist-era concrete buildings and government complexes in the heart of what had been a historic city.

One of the new monuments, the 3.7 million square-foot Palace of the Parliament, is thought to be the largest administrative building in the world, and it anchors the Centrul Civic along a dramatic axis in much the same way that the U.S. Capitol does in Washington, D.C. To this day, the palace and the brutally rebuilt urban fabric around it remain “perhaps the most violent scar left by a totalitarian regime,” in the words of Bogdan Ilie and Dan Achim.

The two have built a depressingly dramatic web project illustrating the scale of this exercise in totalitarian urban planning when transposed onto other cities (hat tip to Google Maps Mania for directing us to it). Write Ilie and Achim of the Centrul Civic (the bold emphasis is theirs):

This project is our baggage, the people of Bucharest’s baggage, and the question that we started with was “What would happen if we were to take this baggage with us through the world?

Well, this is what it would look like in Washington:

And Toronto:

And Dallas:

The scale of the irreparable damage makes most regrettable American urban renewal schemes look modest in comparison. The web project, at portmanteau.ro, even calculates the share of local citizens that would be displaced in any city (based on local population density) by such a grandiose rewriting of the urban map.

Top map is taken of Portland, Oregon.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a WeWork office building
    Life

    What WeWork’s Demise Could Do to NYC Real Estate

    The troubled coworking company is the largest office tenant in New York City. What happens to the city’s commercial real estate market if it goes under?

  2. Bicycle riders on a package-blocked bicycle lane
    Perspective

    Why Do Micromobility Advocates Have Tiny-Demand Syndrome?

    In the 1930s big auto dreamed up freeways and demanded massive car infrastructure. Micromobility needs its own Futurama—one where cars are marginalized.

  3. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  4. Life

    Why Do Instagram Playgrounds Keep Calling Themselves Museums?

    The bustling industry of immersive, Instagram-friendly experiences has put a new spin on the word museum.

  5. a photo of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in 2016.
    Transportation

    What Uber Did

    In his new book on the “Battle for Uber,” Mike Isaac chronicles the ruthless rise of the ride-hailing company and its founding CEO, Travis Kalanick.

×