The Palace of Parliament is located in Dealul Arsenalului, Romania; known for its grand scale and the political history attached to it; the design of the building is firmly anchored to the political situation of that time and has moulded the space with time according to the shift in political paradigm. It was designed with the collaboration of 400 architects, Anca Petrescu being the head architect.
The exterior structure is known for its dominating presence in the city as the massive block of concrete rising 84-meters above the ground, making it the largest and the heaviest administrative building in the world. But the interior is known for its expensive materials, including marble, crystal, carpet, etc., and its systematic spacing composed of twenty-three sections.
The entire building consists of 18 floors, nine undergrounds, and nine stories above; it consists of 1100 rooms from which only 400 are functional and consists of three museums and an international conference room.
The fact that only 400 are functional proves to us that it was an irrelevant large space; therefore the real question is that was there really a need for such a large space and if not then why was it designed on such a scale? The answer lies in the political policies that initiated the idea of this space. The proposal of the Parliament was produced as a consequence of friendship with North Korean leader Kim Ir Sen, Ceausescu wanted to mark this important incident of his political success by erecting a new political and administrative center; the gigantic structure was constructed at the top of Uranus hill; the size and the location of the building itself explain that it was more of a statement rather than a social gesture, created with the collaboration of architect and patron.
Nicolae Ceausescu wanted to concentrate all the major state bodies within one building: his ideology was to design the building as a political and social hub. Its real purpose was to represent the power and dominance of the socialist republic of Romania, thus he wanted the building to be an impression of communism; develop a new architectural identity that represents the city of Bucharest and its communist.
In an attempt to create a strong gesture of communist architecture, Anca Petrescu; the chief architect took inspiration from the Buckingham Palace of London and the Versailles Palace in France, forgetting that these buildings were placed in a particular context from the Parliament and it should be considered, thus the resulting structure consisted of elements that contradicted within themselves as well as didn’t respond well to the context because the inspiration has been taken from the structure in a different context.
It wasn’t only the architectural representation of the building that was being criticized instead, the entire structure was criticized on multiple levels. People began to question the relevance and the purpose of the space. Although Nicolae Ceausescu claimed that this building stands as a representation of the Socialist Republic of Romania but people tend to have a different opinion, the argument which contradicts Ceausescu; claim that in the process of making this building; 40000 people were dislocated, churches and monasteries were destroyed, thousands of construction workers have lost their lives and as a standing structure the cost of electricity and lighting exceed 6 million when on the other hand people are dying due to hunger; thus something that has damaged the common people in so many ways, how can it represent their strength?
The counter-argument claims that structure symbolizes the wealth and the power of communist elites, it has been made to benefit elites. There have been suggestions made regarding demolishing the structure because of the wrong impression that it was putting forward.
The claim regarding the building benefitting the former communist elites becomes more concrete when focusing on the safety features of the building. The building could have been made in any part of the city, but the area at the top of Uranus hill that was chosen as a site tended to hold up against the seismic risk. In addition, the last underground floor was constructed as an anti atomic bunker; concrete walls of 1.5-meter thickness, thus space was protected against all the natural disasters and nuclear attacks.
The site was situated strategically on hills to have an unobstructed connection with the airport; as three underground tunnels were constructed that connected the building to the airport; in case of a revolution it can be used for a safe departure. Therefore, these measures proved that the building was not made to represent the common people of Romania, but instead was made to symbolize the power of Ceausescu and to create a secure space for the elites in case of an attack or a revolution.
The building is characterized as a part of Neo-classical and Brutalist architecture due to the building having a dual identity through its interior and exterior. The interior consists of columns and arches inspired by Neoclassical architecture, although the way they are used in repetitive style gives an impression of space being very dominant. Such monotonous repetitiveness is continued on the exterior facades with windows and columns, this pattern is a character of Brutalist architecture.
Thus, the Palace of Parliament represented how space is constructed through a synergistic relationship between architecture and politics, both simultaneously impacting each other.