I needed a few days to acknowledge what really happened to me. My journey through the two faculties – Urban Planning and Architecture, which I attended at the University of Architecture and Urban Planning ‘Ion Mincu’ in Bucharest – finally came to an end. It took 7 years, in which time I discovered myself, as I discovered the system to which we belong, whether we like it or not.
Those close to me know that the 6 years of architecture have not been easy for me, not because it was a tough university programme, on the contrary – because it did not challenge me, it did not raise me up in any way and towards the end I liked it less and less. Urban Planning, on the other hand, was another story – it was the context in which I learned many of the things that I know today and which I use in everything I have chosen to do. We had young professors, enthusiastic and curious like ourselves, people who inspired in us a healthy and creative way of thinking. Much of this experience is due to former university Dean Tiberiu Florescu (now Vice-Chancellor of UAUIM), whose vision I believe has fundamentally and positively changed the direction of the Faculty of Urban Planning.
It’s still somewhat very strange to be how, in the same building, I found people so different so different from each other: in urban planning I made friends for a lifetime and found (or perhaps I was enough lucky to find) a united group of people, eager to lift up one another and celebrate each other’s successes. In the architecture department I found little posses, petty interests and no joint mentality – the kind of atmosphere that makes you want to behave towards a ‘the greater good’. Of course, I met some fine people, to whom I thank for encouraging me in the moments I felt like giving up. My personal experience in UAUIM is obviously subjective. But because it took me as many years as I gathered since I got my driving license, I had to write about it. I cannot talk about what I actually did in the 6 years, because unfortunately I do not have much ( or many good things) to say …
From Architecture to … cars?
The cars with stories came up sometime soon after I graduated the urban planning courses. I finished university with the best bachelor degree paper in 2014, excited that I will change something for the better in Bucharest or in the country. Unfortunately, the contact I had with the professional world and the two years of my being a student representative within the RUR (Romanian Urban Registry) made me realize that I do not have the two necessary ingredients of this profession: the patience to fight against the “octopus” system and the money to cover the deficit created by the extremely low salary in the early years of work.
In all these years, one discussion in particular meant to me more than I had realized then, in the moment. I was talking to one of my teachers about mobility studies, design in general and wages. I was curious as to what awaits me as a fresh out of school urban planner. He spoke to me with such passion that I asked him what was with all the excitement, knowing he was paid poorly and that he could not change much anyway, most of the projects being very difficult to implement as per what they were planned on paper. He replied, ‘If you are not excited to practice in the field for which you have prepared yourself with such joy, then you have chosen the wrong career’ …
And so, I decided to dust myself up and follow the passion that had been waiting for me for a while: in 2015 Emoticar was born.
In the fall of 2016, my best friend and I decided to stay in one evening, instead of going out with the urban planners gang to a concert. That stupid kind of simple small chat ‘Are we still going out tonight?’ – ‘I’m a little tired, I’m not really in the mood … let’s go some other time.’
We were supposed to support our professor, to whom, in the meantime, we became professional colleagues, at his place of escape from the ‘system’, which was rock/metal music. It was the release of new album from Goodbye to Gravity, where Mihai Alexandru was guitarist – the protagonist of the above discussion. It was evening #colectiv…
We’re not numbers, we’re free, we’re so alive / The day we give in is the day we die
Regardless of social norms, perceptions, stereotypes, I wanted, from that moment forward to live and choose for myself. I put those lyrics on the race car so that, every time I had a look at them, to be reminded of how close I came to never being here. And still I managed to get here in a moment so beautiful, that I never dreamt of.
I forced myself, stubbornly, to finish the Architecture studies with a project that represents who I am – the Motorsport Excellence Centre. Despite the feedback received from the committee – it’s too big a project, the circuit is for roads and bridges, not for architecture, there’s too much work, why did you choose a project meant for boys (sorry, I missed the list for girls ?!) – I finished it. And the qualifications I received from the three foreign guest professors called to participate in the final thesis defence presentation made me realise that my dreams were not in vain.
*Thanks Vlad Eftenie for the photos at my final presentation
With the graduation, I realised that all those years I had forgotten or lost the true meaning of architecture. It’s up to me now to rediscover it as a hobby and, who knows, maybe even be the one to build a Formula 1 circuit in Romania.
I’m ending this with a sincere and cliché final thoughts: I thank all those who have supported and encouraged me throughout these years and I thank you for reading what I write! I wish to inspire you, make you curious or at least to amuse you with the stories behind the cars, which without you would make little sense. And of course, thank you, mom – I got here because of you :))
I will tell you more about the project of the Motorsport Excellence Centre in the near future.