Palace of the Parliament
|Palace of the Parliament|
Front view of the Palace during the EPP Congress of October 2012
Location within Romania
|Former names||House of the Republic|
|Alternative names||People's House|
|Architectural style||Late interpretation of neoclassical architecture|
|Address||Calea 13 Septembrie 1, Sector 5|
|Town or city||Bucharest|
|Groundbreaking||25 June 1984|
|Size||240 m long, 270 m wide|
|Floor area||365,000 m2|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||700 architects under the direction of chief architect Anca Petrescu|
|Designations||World's largest civilian building with an administrative function
World's most expensive administrative building
World's heaviest building
|Number of rooms||1,100|
The Palace of the Parliament (Romanian: Palatul Parlamentului) is the seat of the Parliament of Romania. Located on Dealul Arsenalului in central Bucharest (Sector 5), it is the second largest administrative building in the world, after The Pentagon, with 84 m high, an area of 365,000 m2 and is composed of 23 bodies. Having a volume of 2,550,000 m3, it is also the third most massive building in the world, after Cape Canaveral in Florida and the Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan, Mexico. In terms of weight, the Palace of the Parliament is the heaviest building in the world.
A colossal parliament building known for its ornate interior, it houses the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, three museums and an international conference center. The National Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Communist Totalitarianism (established in 2015) and the Museum of the Palace are hosted inside the Palace. Though named the House of the Republic (Romanian: Casa Republicii), after the Romanian Revolution of 1989 it became widely known as the People's House (Romanian: Casa Poporului). Due to its impressive endowments, here are organized conferences, symposiums and other manifestations by state institutions or international bodies, legal entities, Romanian or foreign, but even so about 70% of the building is empty.
In 1990, American business magnate Rupert Murdoch wanted to buy the building with $1 billion, but his bid was rejected. Nowadays, the Palace of the Parliament is valued at €3 billion, making it the most expensive administrative building in the world. Only the cost of heating and electric lighting exceeds $6 million per year, as much as a medium-sized city.
The building of the Palace is located in the central part of Bucharest (in Sector 5), on the place that today is called Dealul Arsenalului, framed by Izvor Street to the west and northwest, United Nations Avenue to the north, Liberty Avenue to the east and Calea 13 Septembrie to the south.
After the earthquake of 4 March 1977, Nicolae Ceaușescu started a megalomaniac reconstruction plan of Bucharest, and the People's House was the center of this project. The so-called Project Bucharest was an ambitious project of Ceausescu spouses began in 1978, as a replica of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. A systematization project existed since the 1930s (during Carol II) for the Unirii–Dealul Arsenalului area. For its construction was organized a contest, won by Anca Petrescu, appointed chief architect of the project. At that time, Anca Petrescu was just 28. Actually, the team that coordinated the work was made of 10 architects, that have subordinated other 700. The actual construction began on 25 June 1984. The inauguration of the work was also attended by Ceaușescu.
The building was erected on the site of some monasteries that were demolished and on the site of Uranus Hill that was leveled. In this area were located the National Archives, Văcărești Monastery, Brâncovenesc Hospital, as well as about 37 old factories and workshops. Demolition in Uranus area began in 1982. 7 km2 in the old city center were demolished, and 40,000 people were relocated from this area. The works were carried out with forced labor of soldiers and so the cost was minimized.
On the site worked between 20,000 and 100,000 workers, sometimes even in three shifts. Thousands of people died at the People's House, some mention a figure of 3,000 people.
In 1989 building costs were estimated at $1.75 billion, and in 2006 at €3 billion.
Since 1994 the building hosts the Chamber of Deputies, after the initial headquarters of the institution, the Palace of the Chamber of Deputies (now the Palace of the Patriarchate), was donated by state to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Since 2004 the Romanian Senate is headquartered in the building, originally housed in the former building of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party.
Between 2003 and 2004 a glass annex was built alongside external elevators. This was done to facilitate access to the National Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 2004 inside the west wing of the Palace. In the same period, a project aiming to hoist a huge flag was canceled following protests from the public. A flag was already hoisted on the building, but was removed together with the support.
In 2008, the Palace hosted the 20th NATO summit. In 2010, politician Silviu Prigoană proposed re-purposing the building into a shopping centre and an entertainment complex. Citing costs, Prigoană said that Parliament should move to a new building, as they occupied only 30% of the massive palace. While the proposal has sparked a debate in Romania, politician Miron Mitrea dismissed the idea as a "joke".
The construction of the Palace began in 1984 and initially should have been completed in only two years. The term was then extended until 1990, but even now it is not finalized. Only 400 rooms and two meeting rooms are finished and used, out of 1,100 rooms.
The building has eight underground levels, the last one being an antiatomic bunker, linked to the main state institutions by 20 km of catacombs. Nicolae Ceaușescu feared a nuclear war. The bunker is a room with 1.5 m thick concrete walls and can not be penetrated by radiation. The shelter is composed of the main hall – headquarters that had to have telephone connections with all military units in Romania – and several residential apartments for state leadership, in case of war.
The building has a developed area of 365,000 m2, being the world's second largest administrative building, after The Pentagon, and in terms of volume, with its 2.55 million m3, it is the third most massive, after the Vehicle Assembly Building of the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan, Mexico. For comparison, it can be mentioned that the building exceeds by 2% the volume of the Great Pyramid of Giza, and therefore some sources label it as a "pharaonic" construction.
The building of the Palace of the Parliament sinks by 6 mm each year. Romanian specialists who analyzed the data argue that massive weight and structure of the Palace lead to the settlement of layers below the construction.
The building was constructed almost entirely of materials of Romanian origin. The only exceptions are the doors of Nicolae Bălcescu Hall. These were received by Ceaușescu as a gift from his friend, the African dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who was back then the President of the Republic of Zaire.
Among them: 3,500 tonnes of crystal – 480 chandeliers, 1,409 ceiling lights and mirrors were manufactured; 700,000 tonnes of steel and bronze for monumental doors and windows, chandeliers and capitals; 900,000 m3 of wood (over 95% domestic) for parquet and wainscotting, including walnut, oak, sweet cherry, elm, sycamore maple; 200,000 m2 of woolen carpets of various dimensions (machines had to be moved inside the building to weave some of the larger carpets); velvet and brocade curtains adorned with embroideries and passementeries in silver and gold.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Palace of the Parliament of Romania.|
- Cristina Hanganu-Bresch, The People's House: The Building and Rebuilding of Romanian National Consciousness