Muşter Claudia-Elena

tutor conf. dr. arch. Hanna Derer


Roşia Montan㠖 the most important mining site of Apuseni Mountains, a site of universal value


Roşia Montană is probably the most controversial and, undoubtedly, one of the most important places of cultural significance in Romania.



The site shows a complex stratification of heritage value, starting with  the ancient level, outstandingly represented by the vestiges of the Roman mining gallery system (stretching more than 7km) and by disparate elements that testify to an intense inhabiting in the area; the medieval level, attested by several other segments of the mining gallery network which cut into the underlayer of the site (stretching more than 80 km); the modern level, represented by the ancillary facilities meant to ensure the expansion and efficient running of the mining operation: dams (artificial lakes > tăuri), vestiges of the water driving systems, other sections of the gallery network – elements that add to the layout of the settlement and to a significant part of the built environment; the contemporary level, made up by elements auxiliary to the extractive activities: the industrial railway, the industrial buildings of Gura Minei and Gura Roşiei points.



The site is today under high threat: the resuming of open cast mining. The project - put forward by a private consortium - would fulfil the destruction of outstanding heritage values, started in the 70’s of the 20th century with the set up of open cast mining in Mount Cetate. While the mining operation run by the Romanian State in this mountain lead to the loss of crucial Roman vestiges – the so-called Roman Strongholds – representing mining traces, the planned mining operation would erase all surviving vestiges in this mountain and consume three more mountain tops bearing strong evidence of the human – nature interaction that molded the unique cultural landscape of Roşia Montană.

Beyond this dispute, the settling of which will either bring the revival or the serious amputation of the site, the problems it displays are manifold, starting with the basic one - the dissolution of rural communities all around the country – to which adds the problem specific to mining centers, bankrupt and short of perspectives – with deep social and economic consequences, or the problem of the impact on the environment that both the long running traditional mining and especially the open cast mining  raised. To all these adds the problem of underdeveloped infrastructure, inadequate for revitalizing the site. The problem of access – both physical and intellectual - is essential for the good understanding of all aspects specific to the site and for the set up of any revitalization programme.

Although the implied range of problems is complex, the key issue, both for maintaining the character of the site and for its regeneration is cultural heritage. Threatened by the lack of involvement of the local community or of any other social or professional group, threatened even more by the possible resuming of open cast mining, the cultural heritage, melted into the natural heritage, is the main resource for the regeneration of the site.



The cultural resource (which, in this case, includes the natural one) is manifest on several levels: from the widest one, of the physical landscape, to the one of the built heritage, comprising the exceptional underground landscape, and to the punctual one, of the architecture items: the numerous monuments which, all together and each one apart, evoke the ineffable moment of the transformation of the settlement, at the turn of the 19th century, with the influx of urban influences from the mining towns of Apuseni Mountains, set against a strong rural background, still apparent today.



For a mission of this kind - heritage-led regeneration - coordination and control of all actions, achieved by creating organizational and technical infrastructure, is necessary. In view of this purpose, the theme of this project calls for a complex of functions: mining museum, information and documentation centre (with library and archives); spaces for professional gatherings; workshops for applied research in conservation techniques and technology; administrative spaces; accommodation for the personnel involved in site regeneration.


Location: the historical centre – the main nucleus – the Square. The most representative segment and at the same time the most adequate for taking the public functions implied by the project.



The intervention implies restoring the buildings from the North-East front of the Square and grouping them in one functional unit, by adding one new element – a suspended walkway stretched along the back faηades of the nine houses gathered in the ensemble. This new element comes from rethinking the typical local access porch – either open, or enclosed with glazing. Thus, the new element, the suspended corridor, allows fluent circulation towards all the spaces utilizing, with rare exceptions, the existing openings in the walls and articulates to the construction elements of the houses leaving minimal impact on the original matter. The principle of reversibility is thus seen to.

Around the main access point of the ensemble – the gateway of house no.326 – the clear space corresponding to the courtyard and the former annexes is covered with a series of ruled surfaces suspended on a framework, resulting in a foyer or gathering space for receptions, conferences or temporary exhibitions. The new functions that do not fit into the existing spaces are thus accommodated.

The project explores the potentialities of the site: for retrofitting of historical structures, for reinventing local structural and spatial patterns. It relies, nonetheless, on the public vocation of spaces around the Square, in order to redirect the functional profile of the site, towards scientific and touristic fruition of its unique resource: cultural heritage.




Paper presented at A.R.A. 7 – april 2006

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