Romanian Seaside

Tourism has been increasingly developing in Romania from the 1930’s when the nucleus of the resorts, characterized by small isolated buildings, were extended reproducing the design of urban spaces. In the period from the 1930’s to the 1960’s the foundations for the mass tourism were set. During the second half of the twentieth century and under the supervision of the architect Cezar Lazarescu, the Romanian coastline experienced massive development with the construction of numerous resorts. These centralized projects aimed at integrating accommodation areas, taking into consideration the landscape’s distinct relief, shoreline configuration, the area’s traffic and infrastructure etc. These resort complexes, based on land systematization and planning, increased the hotels’ capacity, each had their own individual identities and hosted new tourist accommodation typology, principally leisure, recreation and treatment. Underlying this development the planners’ aspirations were to build leisure facilities besides the accommodation spaces.

Currently, a large number of hotels on the Romanian seaside are in an advanced state of degradation. This decay phase has been reached either because of the uncertain legal status of some of them, or for lack of funds. All these degradations appear mostly due to lack of maintenance of buildings while some of them give the impression that they have been abandoned.

The Neptun-Olimp ensemble is a balneotherapeutic resort situated in the former location of the forest Comorova.

 The Neptun Resort was inaugurated in 1967, at the same time with the opening of the first hotels. The Neptun Hotel, located in the center of the resort, is one of its symbols. The Neptun Hotel, as well as the Forum Hotel from the Costinesti Resort, has a silhouette dominated by two axes of composition, one horizontal and one vertical. The main entrance, the foyer, the reception areas, the conference rooms, the restaurant and the technical annexes develop horizontally into an ensemble with a single level, composed of elements in which the opaque part is predominant. The architectural appearance is dominated by decorative vertical elements made of prefabricated concrete. Accommodations are located in a tower-type building (beam-to-column) with eight levels, with a rigorous facade where the right angle prevails. The decorative elements are made of vertical balustrades and elements separating the terraces made of concrete.

At present, the hotel no longer works at full capacity. Although the building is in a better condition than other buildings of the Neptun Resort, because the maintenance work at the hotel has not been done on a regular basis, several degradations can be seen, such as: deteriorated exterior plaster and facade staining due to environmental factors and improper isolation, which further caused infiltrations of rainwater, deterioration of the terraces waterproofing, the occurrence of parasitic vegetation on terraces and on the facades, exterior access platforms degradation and adjacent green spaces deterioration.

The Olimp resort was completed in 1972 and has three main hotel compounds:

1.The Amfiteatru Ensemble consists of the Amfiteatru, Panoramic and Belvedere hotels;

Design team: Institute of Design “CARPATI” Bucharest

Architecture: Şerban Manolescu – project manager, Radu Mănăila, Dan Ioanovici, Răzvan Florea, Simona Matei, Carmen Beldiman, Mircea Cristescu, Mircea Anania.

2. The North Olimp Ensemble consists of twin hotels named after the main regions of Romania: Maramures, Crisana, Muntenia, Moldova, Dobrogea, Transilvania and Oltenia.

3. The Ensemble of smaller buildings consists of hotels named after some important cities in Romania: Arad, Galati, Sibiu, Craiova, Timisoara.

The Amfiteatru Ensemble is situated on the seafront and has a volumetric composition, which is influenced by the topography of the surrounding landscape, namely the powerful cornice.

In terms of the composition, all the three hotels are developed both vertically and horizontally. Their main characteristic is represented by successively withdrawing terraces, with different functions (one of which being hotel accommodation).

The connection between the three buildings is achieved through a series of lavish exterior stairs, walkways and ample terraces on the ground floor which create the image of a continuous curve.

The Hotel Amfiteatru has a central location and dominates the Ensemble through both the height and verticality of the facade, emphasized through the elements which separate the terraces. Another representative characteristic is the alternation of plain concrete balustrades with those made of metallic elements, creating a vibrant picture of the facade.

In case of the Belvedere and Panoramic hotels, the facades are composed predominately of glass curtain walls and large terraces, with a view to the beach, which create a linear image, a specific characteristic of modernism, representing a powerful accent in the composition of the facade line. There are just a few facade decorations and they are made of prefabricated elements with regular geometrical forms, which also create a rigorous and rhythmic picture.

These three buildings were bought in 2007 by the Unita Turism Company owned by Josef Goschy, who had the obligation to modernize the complex. The work began, but the investment was later stopped and, because of this, only small maintenance works have been realized until now.

Out of those three buildings, only the Amfiteatru Hotel is in a better state. The three hotels exhibit the following major degradations:

– The degradation of exterior plaster, due to environmental factors, rainwater infiltration, improper isolation, which gave further rise to dampness and localized grinding of concrete, as well as the exposure of the armatures.

– The degradation of exterior access stairs (the breaking of concrete elements and the obliteration of slip resistant materials) – the metal balustrades are rusty and some binding elements are missing, which increases the risk of collapse.

– The degradation of the pedestals hydro-isolation and the destruction of their finishes.

– The degradation of the terraces along with their constituent layers, the occurrence and development of parasitic vegetation after water penetration through technical joints and the destruction of the rainwater drainage system, which led to the destruction of the hydro-isolation system and meteoric waters infiltration.

– The degradation of the outside terraces, because of the floor tiles breaking or disappearance.

– The interior finishes are at the same state of degradation as the outside finishes, because the maintenance work has not been made.

The Panoramic Hotel is in the most advanced state of degradation. It can accommodate guests only on the lower floors, the rest of the building being closed. Most of the windows are broken, the external joinery is destroyed even in the places that have been replaced and there are areas where the closings are on the verge of collapse.

Because the meteoric waters drainage system is degraded and because of the environmental factors, the outside plaster is in many places inflated. There are areas where the plaster fell off, which led to the grinding of concrete and exposure of the armatures, both in prefabricated decorative elements (some of which are detached) and in some of the structural elements. The terraces waterproofing and water retrieval system are degraded, which has led to water stagnation and its infiltration.

The whole ensemble is a masterpiece of Romanian architecture from the socialist period. Through volumetric composition, an intimate connection was created between the buildings and their natural environment through the continuity of the interior spaces on the outside. These days the whole complex is in an advanced state of degradation. It is absolutely necessary to make the authorities and the civil society aware of the danger the whole ensemble is in.

The North Olimp Ensemble is located beside the coast, 20-30 meters above the sea level and it is composed of a tower-type building complex placed in an area with rich vegetation.

In terms of the compositional aspect, the buildings are developed vertically, representing an accent of the resort. The volumetric composition is rigorous, the right angle prevails and the decorative elements are limited. The dominant characteristics are the modular elements of the façade, which in comparison with the ones on the Amfiteatru ensemble, create a series of “terraces”, but do not develop vertically and would rather come out of the facade surface on a horizontal plane, thus conveying dynamicity to the buildings.

At present, only the Hotel Crisana benefited from more extensive reconstruction and “modernization” works. The entire complex gives us the impression of an abandoned place especially because of the adjacent gardens, which have represented an oasis of peace and greenery in the 1970s and the 1980s. Nowadays some small and medium tall vegetation has grown so much that it covers the paths that have formerly connected the hotels, as well as the paths that lead to the beach. Moreover, the spaces adjacent to the buildings are neglected and full of litter, the walkways and the roads are destroyed, and the exterior stairs have crumbled. The hotel buildings had a series of functional annexes on the ground floors that interconnected seven buildings, which are now deserted. A large part of the walls and floors have collapsed and in their place a series of new metal parasitic constructions were built, attached or adjacent to the buildings, annexes which distort the volumetric composition of the buildings and are made of low quality materials.

The hotels of this complex show the following types of degradation:

– The exterior plaster degradation, due to environmental factors, rainwater infiltration and improper isolation, which gave rise to dampness both on the facades of the buildings, and on the inside.

– The presence of the air conditioning equipment in a relatively large number on the hotels facades.

– The outside degradation of the access stairs (cracks in the concrete and the wearing out of the slip resistant elements).

– The degradation of hydro-isolation of the pedestal and the destruction of their finishes.

– The degradation of terraces and their constituent layers, which led to rainwater infiltration.

– The degradation of the outside platforms for access, the occurrence of parasitic vegetation, the destruction of the upper layer of the walkway and the road.

– The green spaces adjacent to the hotel are mostly not maintained and have become residual spaces.

Both the Neptun and Olimp resorts had buildings for bowling which were major attractions. The two buildings, which were mostly developed horizontally, have a simple geometrical volume. The decorative elements are in small number, a distinctive feature for the socialist period and consist of vertical panels applied on the front of the facade (in case of the Olimp Hotel) or powerful frames that are coming out of the facade (in case of the Neptun Hotel). These rigorous elements create a contrasting image: a sober architectural appearance, even austere by some people, which is at the same time vibrant and imposing. Over time, because the local authorities changed their priorities, these two symbolic buildings have been abandoned. Now they have broken windows, decaying woodwork, stained exterior plaster that has swollen and fallen off in some areas and wall partitions and interior finishes which are also destroyed.

The Forum Hotel

Costinesti Resort is a resort designed as an extension of the village with the same name, where the first evidence of habitation is recorded dating back to the Iron Age. Foundations for the resort were put in the late 1940s when a camp for students in the Lake Costinesti was built. The emblem of the resort is The Forum Hotel, one of a few large hotels built before the 1980s.

The hotel Forum is located in the southern part of the resort, which was designed by the architects Stefan Şteblea (project leader), Razvan Florea, Toma Olteanu, Constantin Dobre, Victor Ivaneş technicians: Marieta Dinu, Ligia Vereş and was completed in 1977.

design team: Institute of Design “CARPATI” Bucharest

Architecture: Stefan Şteblea (project leader), Razvan Florea, Toma Olteanu, Constantin Dobre, Victor Ivaneş; technicians: Marieta Dinu, Ligia Vereş

Furniture and decorations design: Victor Abraham, Andrei Olsufiev, Cosma Iurov, Matache Rodica Constantin Visan

Architectural lighting design: Arch. Florian Dumitru

Visual Advertising: Arch. Victor Fulicea

Stereometry: Spiridon Spirescu, Mircea Voinea

Structural engineering: Traian Popp, Mircea Mironescu, Radu Constantin

Installation engineering: Valentin Marinescu, Andrei Bals, Spiridon Traian (electrical installations), Anton Necşulea, Nicholas Wegener (acoustics), Gheorghe driving (mechanical works) Predeleanu Nicolae Florin Pătru, Gh. Georgescu, Gheorghe Pantea, Aurel Vladescu (plumbing and heating), Stelian Toader, Rodica Basil (urban works)

Vertical systematization, roads, green areas: Eng. Pamfil Storm

Organization site: Eng. Stefan Tibar

Economic documentation: Ec. Marcel Popescu, Eng. Ion Moiescu

General entrepreneur: Local Building Trust Constanta

Technical director: eng. Ion Gugo

Chief of the building site: eng. Gheorghe Constantinescu, chief work: foreman I. Panghe


In terms of composition, it has a dominant vertical represented by the volume in which the accommodation rooms are located. The sensation of slenderness is emphasized with pillars and columns which are lifting that lift the main floors from the level of the mezzanine and by successively indenting last four terraces of eight levels. On the promenade level the main access, the common areas, the foyer and a multipurpose hall can be found. Other related functional areas of the hotel (common areas, the foyer, restaurant terraces, conference rooms, technical annexes, etc.) are spacious and are spread over two floors, under the level of the promenade, thus achieving a direct connection with the natural environment. Over time, the hotel’s appearance has changed through maintenance works on the façade’s color scheme, which is currently dominated by red-brown embossed decorative plaster.

Nowadays the hotel is owned by the Perla Majestic Group, which didn’t realize the necessary maintenance work, and this is the reason why degradations are increasing.

The most dramatic are:

– Degradation of the exterior plaster due to environmental factors, rainwater infiltration, improper isolation that are responsible for dampness and exposure of the grinding concrete and reinforcement.

– Outside degradation of the access stairs (cracks in the concrete and wearing out of the slip resistant elements); degradation of the coating on exterior access scales.

– Degradation of waterproof isolation and destruction of coating on the plinths.

– Degradation of the terraces’ constituent layers, the occurrence and development of parasitic vegetation after water penetration through technical joints and the destruction of the rainwater drainage system, which leads to the destruction of the waterproofing system and meteoric waters infiltration.

– Degradation of the outside terraces by means of breaking or the disappearance of the floor tiles.

– Degradation of the outside platforms for access, the occurrence of parasitic vegetation, the destruction of the upper layer of the pedestrian walkway and roadway.

– The green spaces adjacent to the hotel are mainly not maintained and have become residual spaces.

– The exterior joinery is only partially replaced.

– Some terraces and roof covers that have been made out of low quality materials have been degraded in a short period of time.

The Neptun-Olimp and Costinesti resorts once considered the most luxurious and elegant Romanian seaside resorts, are currently having many abandoned buildings, which are invaded by parasitic vegetation or are in an advanced state of decay, with unsanitary public spaces and destroyed pedestrian walkways and roads. All these new “features” imprint a sad image in the minds of the tourists who visit these resorts.

text: Architect Sorina Varenic

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