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A DIFFERENT WAY OF LIVING – A Superficial Exercise in Imagination – Dana Milea

The previous week. I spent 4 to 5 hours asking around 50 Bucharest dwellers, both native and adopted, aged ranging

Photographs: Dana Milea & Mihai Zachi, Mokpo, South Korea, August, 2019.


[Getting ready]
The previous week. I spent 4 to 5 hours asking around 50 Bucharest dwellers, both native and adopted, aged ranging between 25 and 55 what they preferred: a block apartment or an earth house. Well, the question wasn’t as simple as that. The apartment wasn’t just any apartment. It was an ideal. On the other hand, the house was far from ideal. It covered very basic necessities. An individual dwelling on a small lot. 150 sqm. The smallest lot possible for building. The reply was in all cases «the house» and no one had anything else to add.
Then you might wonder…



if all Bucharest dwellers lived on individual 150 sqm lots…



how much space would the residential surface of the city cover?
More than it does now? Less? As much? The whole area of the city? Would it surpass it? You can’t imagine? Take a guess. Flip a coin, don’t waste too much time thinking it over. Do you want to be inspired by what others said? Well, if you insist… most stated without a flinch that «much» or simply «more than it occupies now» or «more than the surface of the city», «it wouldn’t fit inside the city belt». Should we take their word for it?


Part one: what is the surface of Bucharest?
It seems easy enough to find out. Tempo Online says about 23,800 ha. But the sources contradict each other. Bucharest City Hall (PMB) recalls only 22,800 ha.
To have a reference system, we make a second set of assumptions and approximations:
1. The boundary of the Bucharest area is within the city belt;
2. The city belt is a circle;
3. The circle diameter is 21 km, so the radius is 10.5 km (10,500 m).
The surface inside the belt is 3.14 × 10.500 square meters. That’s 346,185,000 sq. M. That is, 34,618.5 ha. Hard to handle in easy-to-follow calculations in a Sunday article. We can simplify things and work with 35,000 ha.
Looking at a plan, the specifications given by Tempo and PMB seem plausible, the city occupies about 60–65% of the area inside the belt. N.B. What does 1,000 ha matter in our approximations?


Part Two: How much does the living area in our premise cover from the total living area?
The third set of assumptions and approximations:
1. About 2 million people live in Bucharest;
2. A typical family consists of 3 people;
3. It results from paragraphs 1 and 2 that we have 666,666 families in Bucharest. Another number hard to handle. For simplicity reasons, we will consider that we have 700,000 families;
4. Each family lives on a plot of 150 sqm.
In these conditions, the total occupied area is 700,000 × 150 sqm. So 105,000,000 sqm. That’s 10,500 ha.


Part Three: Correlating the Answers in Part One and Part Two
Elementary mathematics tells us that the living surface of our premise is without difficulty comprised in the current area of the city. Even in the most crowded version, with a total area of 22,800 ha, the living surface would occupy only about 46% of the city’s surface. Of course the percentage decreases as the total area considered is higher: 44% of the 23,800 ha and 30% of the 35,000 ha, the interior of the belt.
This is true. This 10,500 hectare area represents only the batches glued to each other without any access. But even if we added about 20% for the roads, our residential area now 12,600 ha would still fit inside the city’s current area. It would take up only a little more: approx. 55% of 22,800 ha, 53% of 23,900 ha and 36% of 35,000 ha.
Are you surprised? Did you expect something else? How correct was your assumption?


Part Four: A Beginning of a Superficial Discussion Left Unfinished
If all the Bucharest dwellers were like the 50 people I talked about, I would say that everyone should be very happy to live in houses on 150 square meters. All. Equally. I’m simply living the choice they voluntarily made, and nobody had anything to add, right?

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