Our students have just published their field trip book Focus Bucharest: A Transforming City. Please visit the page and enjoy reading about the city and the work we did when we were there.
Thoughts on the field trip:
One of the true advantages of the MSc Regional and Urban Planning Studies is the diversity of our student body, which is made up of recent graduates and mid-career professionals from all over the world. This means when we engage in fieldwork in London we bring our various national perspectives with us inflecting our studies and interpretations of place with knowledge gained from our experiences in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and North America.
However, the world is not London, despite what some city boosters might have you believe and this is where our annual fieldtrip comes into its own. Each year we organise a fieldtrip to a city outside London to focus on the processes, problems and successes in planning that make the city what it is. Some years we have relied on staff connections to organise the trip, others we have used our extensive alumni network to create exciting and interactive study visits and in other years our energetic student body has embarked on developing a trip all their own.
This year’s trip was just such an event. It took us to Bucharest where we explored the planning dilemmas in this fascinating transitional city. Our trip was arranged by our current student Irina Paraschivoiu and we were hosted by the Romanian Chamber of Architects in their beautifully restored offices and the dynamic NGO Odaia Creativa (http://www.odaiacreativa.ro/en/). We were also very pleased to see two former graduates of the programme Alex Gotca and Marina Neagu!
We were struck by a number of things on our trip. The first was that, as a group, we really had no idea what to expect before we arrived in the city, which for us offered a sort of black box on our urban horizons. In this sense it was a city of mystery. We found the Bucharest to be an amazing mix of architectural styles – intense boulevards and large blocks of soviet and 1930s flats intermingled with quieter back streets with neo-Romanian and Liberty houses.
We also found a city, which for sure is experiencing all of the sort of transitional problems one might expect to find in a post-Soviet and post-crisis context in terms of its economy and governance. However, we also learned that with respect to much of the region Bucharest was performing well in terms of its GDP. This is of course both a blessing and a curse as the city is able to attract outside finance but also acts as a magnet pulling people and resources towards it at the expense of other areas.
Alan and I would like to thank our hosts in Bucharest who so warmly welcomed all of us; Irina for her excellent organisational skills, and all the RUPS students who took part in the trip for making it a memorable and exciting experience!