Despre spiritul unui loc poți povesti, dar nu poți cere celui ce te ascultă să te înțeleagă pe deplin, să simtă. Este nevoie să fi fost acolo, să trăiești dinăuntru. Adesea, noi, arhitecții, absolvenți de „Ion Mincu”, invocăm Școala, oamenii și spiritul acesteia. Un loc în miezul Bucureștilor, o clădire mare cu o zonă istorică și una modernă, în partea nouă - un turn sub care se află porticul de acces, în partea veche - o ușă înaltă de stejar masiv care azi se deschide atunci când generații de absolvenți ai diverselor promoții decid să sărbătorească în școală reîntâlnirea. Și, evident, oamenii, cei care au fost, care sunt și care vor veni aici atrași de mirajul seducător al arhitecturii. Mulți dintre aceștia fiind copleșiți de măreția locului, iar la rândul lor marcându-și trecerea prin urme distincte și evenimente memorabile.
Cum spuneam, este greu să prinzi în cuvinte spiritul acestui loc, dar am să încerc totuși să o fac, prezentând experiențele și trăirile proprii în locul în care m-am inițiat.
You can talk about the spirit of a place, but it is difficult for your listener to fully understand you and feel what you mean. It is hard for him to do it without having been there and having lived inside. As architects and alumni of the “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture, we often refer to the School, its people and its spirit. It is a place in the heart of Bucharest, an imposing building composed of a historical area and a modern one, in the new wing - a tower with an entry portico underneath. In the old wing there is a high massive oak door which is open today when the alumni of different generations decide to celebrate their reunion at school. Moreover, we naturally refer to the people who were or are still drawn by the seductive fascination of architecture. Many of them were overwhelmed by the grandeur of the place and, in their turn, they made their mark through distinctive feats and memorable events.
As I said before, it is difficult to put into words the spirit of this place. Nevertheless, I will try to do it, recounting my own experiences and feelings in the place where I was initiated.
All those who have chosen to study Architecture have their own story. There are different stories which, for some of them, began early, at a young age, or, for some others, on the eve of graduating from secondary school. However, we all heard people talking about what Architecture is, how architects are, what they do and how they are viewed by the others. We have certainly chosen this path being fascinated by all these accounts, by students’ graduation projects, once displayed in the windows facing Edgar Quinet Str., by the junior proms or the memorable events in Club A. All these stories have been dealing with a special art and profession, an oasis of freedom inhabited by special, skilled, sensible and passionate people. As you listen to them, you become captivated, trying to imagine your future life as an architecture student.
The Initiation-The Training
In order to be accepted here, you need to prove that you have some important skills, without which the time spent here would be short, painful and useless. This is a clear indication that the place is different. A short time ago, some people would consider that, in order to be admitted to study architecture, one just needed to be skillful in expressing himself through drawing. In those days, it was true, but today, when the computer helps both the hand and the mind, we believe that you also need to be…different. Anyway, both then and now, to have a spatial perception, to express space through design, to be creative and innovative are still abilities without which the door of Architecture would not be opened to you. You need to undergo a special training in order to be accepted. There are many trainers and candidates, and the initiation process is long and difficult. As accumulations become consistent, you begin to understand what it means to become an architecture student. It is not by accident that you carry, visibly proud, your tube with your design rolls and your T-square ruler, wishing to send an explicit signal to the others that you are one of the contenders, endowed with special skills.
In my opinion, these are the first obvious signs of that free, artistic and elite spirit I was referring to before.
Emotions, passions and ambitions to express yourself and to have your worth acknowledged. The desire to prove to everybody that the skills acquired during the training period can help you to be among the selected people. Crowd, contenders armed with their T-square rulers entering underneath the access tower and the emotions before the display of the admission results. Wait, subjects, jury evaluation of the exam designs in the gymnasium. The results’ display in the entry portico, great joys and sorrows; they all compose this unique scene and make the spirit of place be deeply felt by you, the trainers, the other trainees and their families, and the academic staff as well.
The Welcome to school
Fear and hope; anxiety and curiosity. You start meeting your new classmates and the academic staff, and discovering the design studio, the amphitheatre, the Frescoes’ Hall, the gymnasium.
You impatiently attend the opening ceremony of the new academic year as if it is a new initiation…
Memorable experiences in an environment that you will gradually discover and love.
New Training for new achievements
You need to complete four, five or six years (sometimes more) of expectations, dreams, vanities, achievements and failures. And, finally, you pass the graduation exam in front of an international commission. Here, through the years, you will build the most beautiful relationships and enduring friendships, which will last even after the end of your student life. You will interact with the professorate and the classmates and you will experience together. You will choose your favourite models and architects. You will try to express yourself in a personal way and you will probably manage to have a distinctive style, recognizable through your designs. You will learn to be competitive and creative in the conception of architectural space. You will openly show your pride of being a student in Architecture.
The joy of graduation is combined with the desire to face, soon, a new challenge in the vast field of architecture. It is also associated with the nostalgia of remembering the student years that you have just left behind. You are eager to prove to yourself and to the world who you are and what you can do. You are self-confident, as you realized, all those years, that none of what you had experienced here would be useless.
Time passes by and somebody decides that you reunite several years after graduation. That is nothing new, all alumni do that, but reunions always take place here, in the Faculty of Architecture. You listen to the speeches, you talk about your remarkable achievements, but you do not forget to reiterate your gratitude towards the school and the academic staff you owe so much. In tears, you promise that you will certainly attend the next reunions in the coming years, which will undoubtedly be held in the same place. It is our place and ours alone, which makes all of us relive each time the special memories and feelings of the student days and aim to achieve future ambitious goals.
As an academic
If you were an eminent student, you would be traditionally requested to remain in school and to train yourself for an academic career. This requires passion, thorough knowledge and generosity, which you all experienced as a student. At the time of my graduation, it was a high appreciation gesture of the faculty leadership to you, for which you were deeply honoured and grateful. Today, we carry on the tradition and some of the best students decide to pursue the academic career. Nevertheless, the requirement to earn a doctorate and the attraction of important private architectural studios in the country or overseas make some of the best graduates think it over…
Once you were accepted again in the “Ion Mincu” University, you would use your best knowledge acquired during the years you had spent at school or in the architectural studios. This time, you will generously offer to others some of your experience, knowledge and convictions, sensibly mingled with memories about the people and the place where you were trained. These stories, passed on from one generation to the next, definitely liven up the place and permanently enrich it with new and various experiences.
The place, the people and the spirit
I don’t know if my thoughts were inspired enough to outline properly the spirit of this special place. However, I am convinced that, when reading these lines, any ”Ion Mincu” architecture graduate will proudly and gratefully remember the stages, the atmosphere and the unique feelings experienced at school. Moreover, this text will help young people wishing to become architects to understand that the ”Ion Mincu” University of Architecture was and will always remain a blessed place, shaped by the people who are different. They are architects, highly vibrant people, able to preserve and enrich the special spirit of this school.
Prof. PhD. Arch. Marian Moiceanu,
Rector, “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urban Planning