The ’89 Box

Bucharest Architecture Annual / 2015 - Object Design - Prize.

Team: Alex Axinte, Cristi Borcan, George Marinescu, Maria Daria Oancea
Production mobile structure:
Arpad Debreczeni
Union Square, Cluj; Victory Square, Timişoara
13-14 December Cluj; 16-18 December Timişoara

The ‘89 Box is a studioBASAR’s project developed within the event ‘Hot & Cold: Revolution in the Present Tense’.

Special thanks: Tibi Ciolacu (Planwerk), Rudi Graef (VitaminA)

Cald la rece-logo COLOR

Hot & Cold: Revolution in the Present Tense

Curators: Roxana Bedrule, Anna Harsany

Participants: Anca Benera & Arnold Estefan, h.arta, studioBASAR

In the context of current proliferations of revolutionary ideas and forms, the memory of the events from 1989 in Romania is still publicly activated, most often through rituals of commemoration. Hot & Cold: Revolution in the Present Tense, is an art project in public space that raises discussions about the symbolic importance of the Romanian Revolution of 1989. The project offers a critical perspective through which the general commemorative context that treats public space as a compact place for debate, reflection and collective expression, can be challenged and re-imagined. (Roxana Bedrule, Anna Harsany)


The ‘89 Box is a mobile structure that borrows from the looks and make shift of the fair carts, but rather expose and accumulates, than distributes and is being consumed. The Box contains the scale models of the two squares as in their contemporary spatial moment, where a collection of narratives, moments or scenes set 25 years ago during the revolution is superimposed. We obtained a mapping-diorama, realized in the specific language of the architectural scale representations, where the line drawing and generic environment of plastic people and cars, aims to trigger and exchange between the Box and passerby. On one hand, the model offered a break for individual reflection or social interaction on the backdrop of the annual Christmas fair, and on the other hand the passerby contributed with their memories about those days or with their opinions about these squares, archived in a format similar to touristic postcards.


Union Square, Cluj

Between ginger bread stands, kiosks, Christmas trees, lights, snowman, reindeer and many more other objects, we opened the discussion about the days of the revolution and the transformation of the squares. Here, we discovered with surprise that the subject is alive and is crisscrossing the whole society, regardless of generation. The Box brought back to the square moments from 25 years ago, and the reactions where sometimes absolute, or conflicting and confuse, and the square was used for a direct reference for the transformation of the public space after ‘89.


Postcard cover, Cluj


Postcard back, Cluj

The archive with memories and impressions here:





Victory Square, Timişoara

At a first glance the situation was similar with the one in Cluj: the same festive landscape, filled with Santa Clauses, cottages, kurtocs kolacs, bulbs, flags, and so on. But this square is different: paradoxically, although this is the place where the revolution ignited, it’s here where we didn’t received the authorization to layout the Box, but only outside of the square, on the side streets. After ad-hoc negotiations, pushed from one side to another by the authorities and stand sellers, we manage to keep open areas of interaction and debate, in and out of the square, where the participants didn’t need us anymore to stay together. Thus, we accumulated dozens of memories and stories, we chat together about special or everyday moments, about plans for the future or glances to the past, we took part in emotional moments and we contributed, even on short term, to the production of authentic public space.


Postcard front, Timişoara


Postcard back, Timişoara

The archive with memories and impressions here:








The practice of public space

After one week, we realized with surprise that an object with little spatial spectacular bonds can be a powerful tool that triggers public space oasis, generates participation and increase social interaction, also beyond the consumption of the public space during a Christmas fair. The practice of the public space become a practice of the commemoration, that allowed us to build a situation that was reenacting a form of generosity and solidarity among people, consumed 25 years ago in these squares.