how should our town develop in the 21st century? cum sa se dezvolte orasul nostru in secolul 21? hogyan fejlodjen varosunk a 21. szazadban? wie soll sich unsere stadt im 21. jahrhundert entwickeln?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

en.: Sighisoara besides silence

A new world record is attempted in Sighisoara: creating a new General Urban Plan for the city, as well as a new set of local urban regulations, all in about 4 months! Normally, this complex task would require at least one year to complete. Besides, the authorities have not yet informed the local population that in the remaining months of 2005, the future of the town and its people will be decided (for the next 10-20 years).

All signs point to the intention of the authorities and certain interest groups (City Hall employees, investors, construction companies, land owners) to transform and write into law, in record time, the personal interest of those groups. This new neo-feudal governing system forcefully installed itself after 1945/48 and is still in place, even today. This neo-feudalism, which also includes inheriting the Mayor seat from father to son, has created in our town nothing but abuse, destruction, ruin, collective frustrations, and, in the end, an out-migration of the middle class (the average citizen, the petit bourgeoisie, the civil society). All that is left is the low strata (ex-workers, the new serfs), controlled and manipulated by an elite (the lords) socialized during the dictatorship and propelled up in the hierarchy by it and by the aborted 1989 revolution. It is a class legitimized, at best, through local elections, where the common citizen was offered no choices.

In order to satisfy the interests of the new local lords, we run the risk of applying primitive urban planning measures, measures that combine worn-out western models with bad taste and Balkan grossness. We run the risk of compromising, for decades, the way Sighisoara, the Pearl of Transylvania, part of UNESCO World Heritage, will look. The current and proposed practices include: chaotic suburbanization, superkitsch oversized constructions, mostly illegal, villas in green, undeveloped areas (out of town limits?), segregation based on social criteria, and so on. The consequences: Sighisoara, the compact city of 50-60 years ago, will flatten and spread out, like an omelet, loosing its boundaries somewhere in the idyllic corn fields of the rural suburbia.

In this blog, we will present the problems and some potential urban planning solutions for Sighisoara/Schaessburg/Segesvar. The solutions are based on principles and models of good practice of the environmentally-friendly and sustainable urban planning (see Local Agenda 21, Aalborg Charta, StadtumbauOst, European Urbanism, New Urbanism / USA) that will mark the future of western cities.

The problems and solutions presented here don't refer only to Sighisoara. On the contrary, we consider them as being typical, paradigmatic for towns in Transylvania, Romania, and Eastern Europe. This is why a new Urban Plan and a new Set of Urban Planning Regulations for Sighisoara, worthy of the 21st century (prepared by specialists, with the population's participation), would create a precedent in the domain of architecture, urban planning, and built heritage protection in Romania. It would also contribute to stopping the urban planning normally practiced in Romania with the bulldozer and the excavator. We have today the great chance of changing direction in the urban development of our town, to assure Sighisoara a place in the new European urban planning. Our town deserves it, and so do most of its people!
The time of silence in Sighisoara has passed.


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