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Holiday Village at Gura Portitei (in Dobrogea - on the Danube Delta southern limit, between Danube Bank and Black Sea Shore)

Part 2 Project 2002
Andrei Serbescu
Rebecca Underwood
Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, Romania
My project’s theme pursues another type of “seaside tourism”, different from the ones in our resorts. Being overcrowded by hoards of people that invaded them, the resorts were avoided from the very beginning by those who find no satisfaction in this kind of “institutionalised” tourism. It always existed a tendency to evade the severity of the program with accommodation and meals (=restaurant) as main coordinates. Unfortunately, commerce vanquished all and even the southern seaside villages came to be termed as resorts.

The project’s site is a beach strip between lakes and the Black Sea, at the southern bank of the Danube Delta. One may say that the most felicitous attitude one can have towards a beautiful and savage place like this is to leave it untouched. Yet they started to build on it and they are still going to do so. The decision to change this place or not has already been taken. It is up to us now to decide how this is going to be done.

My approach to the theme is based on a study on local architecture (the vernacular architecture of Dobrogea), as the purpose was to make a modern project with mainly traditional means (clay, wood, stone and reed as building materials, solar heating and natural ventilation). The architectural concept relies on the fact that there is no road access to the site (one can get there only by boat), so the space is designed at “human scale”. The influences come mainly from the local traditional architecture, but also from places with similar climate (hot and sunny), like the Mediterranean or Islamic cities.

Andrei Serbescu
Rebecca Underwood

Considering the speed and the movement of today’s life in an everyday more urbanised society, this project tries to create a world of its own, away from the dynamics of the moving city, a place where the car can no longer rule and dictate. Starting from elements of the precious “folk” architecture of the Dobrogea area nearby the site, the student proposes a holiday village at the seashore of the Black Sea where neither the volumes nor the views are impressive, but where one, obliged to walk to find one’s way, should discover everything by one’s self – the bodega, the small chapel or the fish restaurant. The spaces live through contrast (open – narrow) and detail (the carved wood column, the clay stairs, the small bag full of sand that closes the gate or the hammock).
Given the virgin site, the best way to start the project was to create a principle that would be economical for the development of the village. This was done by gathering all the “wet” spaces (bathrooms, kitchens) and technical spaces (which can now be modulated and prefabricated) together in some “spines” to which the houses are attached, being connected to these by interior courtyards.
Andrei Serbescu’s project is a very refined and delicate approach to a theme that tries to preserve qualities of the vernacular architecture within a modern whole. The student’s passion for the subject is obvious to someone who takes a look at his attentive dealing with both the ensemble and the detail.

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