By Ada Popescu
On the “open doors” day May 19 OZB visited BAZA, an association initiated by four urbanists and architects and one film producer with the purpose of unleashing the potential, hidden energies of Bucharest. Maria Duda, Raluca Niculae, Matei Bogoescu and Alexandru Belenyi are the architects and Ștefan Hillerin is the film producer, but the team is growing. ”We open the city” is their motto and that they do indeed.
The ways in which BAZA is opening the city are many. First, it’s the meeting place (in the Creative Neighbourhood, on 48 Berzei St) for people who want to change Bucharest for the better, a fertile ground for people with initiative, ideas and dreams to improve the urban space and the urban culture. They not only provide a space, but also provide support because they constantly develop a body of knowledge based on research and first hand experience of the city, through writing, podcasts and the attempt to build up a new entity within the existing urban frame.
At BAZA they come up with the questions to start the dialog with the public so that solutions can be found. They also organise workshops, take part in public debates and conferences, they organise guided tours and collect personal histories of young activators in Bucharest through podcasts (called The Urban Experience, over 70 podcasts to present) created in collaboration with Radio7. Listening to their conversations and guests one can only feel hopeful and inspired.
Among their projects are V for Vintage, The Change Hub, Little Improvements (such as the one in the photo, a flight of stairs near Kretzulescu church on calea Victoriei, a small improvement that would make access to the Humanitas book shop and Artichoke Coffee shop easier), SinCronic (2016), the interior design for Art Safari (2016).
The Change Hub for example is an alternative learning space that a few the students from Spiru Haret high school created after a workshop on sustainability they did at BAZA. Maria Duda was telling the story of how the teenagers took initiative to create something missing in their school and something they felt a need for—an informal space to hang out after classes and unplug, to do homework and workshops, to organise events. ”They showed up one Saturday morning and asked us about sustainability. So for the rest of the day we talked about that. And then they did it all by themselves, they persuaded the headmaster to give them a space in the basement and now they have this space they called The Change Hub—they are amazing!” Maria says.
BAZA is a dynamic space worth keeping an eye on for updates on the new and exciting things happening in and for Bucharest. They are also the best motivation to exercise and improve your Romanian—their English is very good but they address the local public and are trying to support and rearrange the developing mechanisms for and in the Romanian segment.
You can find out more about them on www.debaza.ro.