...in the bottom drawer
I knew I'd lose it so I put it in a safe place, and now I can't remember where it is.

currently stashed in: Cheshire Street, London
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March 27, 2006 || 9:15 pm

I'm in Bucharest with the British Council doing a regeneration seminar and workshop. We arrived this afternoon and had a fascinating tour around much of the central areas of the city. So many extraordinary and bizarre things, of which Ceaucescu's Palace of the People is perhaps the most grandiose and crazy but by no means the only one. The Palace is the largest buliding in the world after the Pentagon and is situated, alongside its park and associated housing projects designed to shield the older neighbourhoods from sight of a new ceremonial boulevard, on the site of what once housed 40,000 people and 26 churches, alongside two monasteries. The monasteries and a handful of the churches were moved elsewhere, but everything else was razed to the ground, including a football stadium whose remains are visible as the underground ruins of part of the park. The neo-classical Palace was never finished and still is in a state of derelict semi-construction, alongside the Academy building behind it that is also a strange unfinished ruin. Soane might have loved it.

Then there's the plans for the new cathedral, that have changed site five times over the last twenty years without anything having been started; the 'famine circuses' - massive domed food production and sale buildings that were also never finished, intended to placate the starving masses; beautiful tiny churches and delicately ornate Classical apartment buildings and houses; a super-ornate Neoclassical 1930's multi-storey car repair garage complete with moving ar-lifts; and some outstanding (to my eye) early modernist cinemas and apartment blocks. Not to mention what happens when after fifty years of Communist ownership, all sorts of major buildings get 'reclaimed' by their former 'legal' owner.

And much much more. But its now late in this time zone and I've got to be super-fresh for the day's work tomorrow, so I'll have to write more later.



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