Stories

#1
Probably someone who didn’t exactly love chief architect Anca Petrescu whispered to the comrade some sort of critique regarding those façades. We imagine that it wouldn’t have been in the comrade’s knowledge that the House does not have a base, but anyhow, he came to viewing and said: “But this house has no base!” – because the entire ground floor actually worked as a base. He also added something of his own: “A base must be this big…” – and he reached out. Someone immediately handed him a roulette, so he added: “1 meter 30”. After that, we were imagining how lackeys in golden books opened doors saying “1m 30! 1m 30!” – doors kept opening one after another until they reached us, the slaves of the pyramids, and so the direction arrived: the façades will have a 1m 30 base. Because this is how the final order came, as a note from the Household Chancellery of the Party.
(Mihaela Criticos, architect)

#2
There were artists working in modeling, some of them were students. In plasterwork, there were some very good old craftsmen and the young learned from them. With finishing the end product you weren’t required to know much, you didn’t need a lot of practice, because you only repaired a little: you burned the bib or you filled the void. The finishing team was entirely made up of women. The vast majority – 95% of them – had no relation to art and had worked other jobs before, but the salaries were very high and I think that’s what attracted them.
(Loredana Stancu, artist)

#3
The house got out of hand. In the last years, it kept growing like a cake: one more slice kept being added – I remember that we were changing all kinds of things, in obvious disharmony with the initial concept, which was precarious anyway. And it became a kind of a catastrophe. There were years when I said I didn’t want to be part of it anymore. We were called to the site when there were viewings. There were weekly visits of the ruling couple, but there was a period when they would come up to three times a week. However, at least once a week, the comrade officially came and claimed that each project manager was present on the site. At that time I had grown a beard and made a deal with the secret police not to appear on the site.
(Adrian Grosu, architect)

#4
Working with mock-ups was Anca Petrescu’s favorite. I think this is how she won the contest, by presenting a very detailed model: a real toy that probably delighted the beneficiary, as opposed to an ordinary project that would have told him nothing. I saw that 3 x 3 m layout, with removable roof and façades. When you lifted the roof you could see the rooms’ interiors, with carpets cut from the Cisnădie factory catalog. Everything looked really genuine. The layout also presented various highly meticulous decorations of expanded foam – door frames with pediments, with balls in the 3 tips of the sham pediment. Of course, in this way she caught the client’s eye. The initial team was also specialized in mock-ups, it was a much more clear way of working for the beneficiary and perhaps for this project’s leaders, too.
(Mihaela Criticos, architect)

#5
We earned very good money. At that time, workers in big factories did not get more than 2000-2500 lei. This is why many craftsmen were attracted to this site. In that period you could be detached: units of craftsmen from many counties were brought here this way.
(Ștefan Eftimiu, mason)

I made 3800 lei, but I don’t know if you could grow by much in the plastering group. There were some women of about 40 who were working for about 5 years and I don’t know if they were earning more than me. I was not so interested in the salary as I was interested in having a job, so I didn’t exchange salary secrets.
(Loredana Stancu, artist)

Until we came they were paying very well, but in my time I didn’t see that. I heard that there were wages of up to 20000 lei per month.
At my level, the salary was 3500 lei. But I wasn’t really interested in the financial aspect then. I had enough money to raise my child and pay the bills. I didn’t want a car. If I wanted a car, the money probably wouldn’t have been enough, but I didn’t want one. Then, of course, the pay can be expressed subjectively: how much do you need? If it lasts, then you’re well paid.
(Adrian Grosu, architect)

#6
You were given the impression that you belonged to a very restrained group, those who were on the inside perceived this as a kind of privilege. It was hard work: sometimes you had to sneak in at home at 10pm, to go unnoticed. It’s the same mentality as that in corporations today.
(Marius Marcu-Lapadat, architect)

In the beginning… I made a general mock-up of the entire ensemble. I remember that I worked for two weeks at it and used to sleep there.
(Adrian Grosu, architect)

There was night work – that was a requirement; even with hiring, when I was hired as an intern, the only question Anca Petrescu asked in the interview was “Can you work at night?” Yes. And that’s what I was doing, staying the nights and working on various façades, on decorations that were required.
(Mihaela Criticos, architect)

My schedule was from 7 to 4. I would be late often and my boss would tell me: “I will cut your salary”.
(Loredana Stancu, artist)


We would like to thank all those who answered to our challenge: Mihai Asavei, Valentin Bărgăoan, Alexandru Botea, Liuța Botea, Ovidiu Charena, Mihaela Criticos, Ștefan Eftimiu, George Georgescu, Adrian Grosu, Petru-Alexandru Galai, Marius Marcu-Lapadat, Anca Marinescu, Alexandru Popa, Loredana Stancu, George Tănase, Petre Vasiliev.