“If they had to build just one component, just one equipment in the whole country, they would build it at the “Independence” factory. “Independence” was the chief mechanic for the machinery industry in Romania; in any enterprise, in any company, there was a jackof-all-trades, a man who could fix everything, that`s what the “Independence“ factory meant for Romania.” (Ioan T – worker at the “Independence“ factory in Sibiu – quote from the Tribuna newspaper, 2007)
The site I‘ve chosen for my graduation project is in the city of Sibiu, in the region of Transylvania. The city appeared at the end of the 12th century and has been a regional center for traditional crafts. Outside the old area of the town, the cores of industrial activity were engulfed by the urban development and today have quite a central position in the city.
In 2007, Sibiu was the European cultural capital and ever since, the city has attracted hundreds of thousands of tourists and many festivals and cultural events are happening here every year.
Apart from the cultural activities happening in Sibiu, there are many heritage buildings accessible to the public. However, there is no interactive museum in Sibiu, where people can revisit, which arouses curiosity and encourages the exploration of the old crafts and industry from the region.
The site for my project is the “Independence” factory, which was built in 1868 and is known as the first factory of agricultural machinery in Transylvania. During the World War 2, the factory converted to weapon manufacturing. During the communist era, the factory’s activity grew and diversified until the Romanian revolution in 1989, when the factory started its decline.
My aim was to give a new value to the existing buildings by reinterpreting the original spaces used for production storage or administration. These spaces are remodelled so that they can accommodate new functions and thus a new cycle of activities. Through this architectural intervention, I try to keep a lot from the historical testimony of the place but also add value by building a new, visitor-friendly landscape.
The program is focused around two main key words : find out and experiment. The “find out” part is exhibit in the old industrial hall and consists of industrial equipments from various fields. Also a major attention was given to the crafts originated in the area of Transylvania. The main hall has a flexible space due to the old railway tracks used in production and so can shelter cultural events, concerts, fashion shows, family activities etc. A connection with an underground level lets the program develop the “experiment” and fun part of the project, where science galleries wrap around the main hall, rising at different heights above the ground and highlighting the old architecture.
The rising galleries are creating different relations with the visitor on the ground floor allowing him to have a glimpse of the inside. A technical library and cafe found place in the administration area completing the new cultural life of the plant.
Therefore, the solution lies in achieving an active and flexible space in which the industrial function is substituted by a cultural-tourist-educational service. Keeping alive the mastery of a craft is one crucial not only to preserve the monument, but also for the local culture as a whole.