SINAIA -- RECYCLING CAPITAL OF EUROPE
THE ECOTOPIA 2121 PROJECT DETAILS THE GREEN UTOPIAN FUTURES OF 100 REAL WORLD CITIES ACROSS THE GLOBE. THIS WEEK, WE FEATURE THE FUTURE OF THE ROMANIAN CITY OF SINAIA.
Amid the post-communist landscape in Romania are remnants of half-finished, grandiose megaprojects. These range in type from crumbling hydropower plants and decaying factories to silted- up shipping canals and weather-beaten communist monuments. The scenario here is a pointer to the possible use of the physical remains of such projects, a compact vertical suburb in the Transylvanian city of Sinaia made from the remains of an abandoned hydropower facility, rising from the misty mountain valleys into the air.
This is no planned community of towers but more of an unplanned, organically organized, communal dwelling fashioned in an informal way over many years, then refined, rearranged, and elegantly sculpted. The towers are a testament to the power of recycling.
In the eastern half of Europe there are some eight million Roma people, an ethnic group often referred to as Gypsies by English speakers. Romanians are usually at pains to make sure foreigners understand that Roma and Romanians are ethnically distinct. The former have origins in ancient India, and the latter have a mixed Roman and Thracian heritage. According to popular prejudice in Eastern Europe, the Roma are responsible for inordinate damage and destruction to public buildings, including their own state-funded houses. Another popular story about the Roma is that they are dealers of garbage. More often than not, this story is cast about to disparage the Roma lifestyle, which is often segregated from the mainstream wage system.
In Sinaia 2121, a time and place where environmental sensitivity is much higher than today, garbage recycling has become a more honorable activity than it is currently. The success of the recycled towers suggests that the Romanian government should hand over the decaying infrastructure of its abandoned white elephants to the nearby Roma people. This will provide an opportunity for the Roma to show that they can build communities in their own way. They can surely do no worse than Romania’s government.