I posted an essay on BoredPanda two years ago that altered my life forever. It was about a lovely abandoned structure called Neptune Baths, and it quickly went viral. “Wow,”I thought, what a tremendous legacy heritage is, and what a treasure Herculane Baths are.
Back then, after I told you the tale, I questioned myself at the conclusion of the piece, “How can we rescue it?”I intended to raise awareness of Romania’s deteriorating legacy, and in the process, I fell in love with this amazing country.
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This began an incredible journey, a passionate one marked by courage, fortitude, and an unfathomable desire to make a difference. HerculaneProject is a social and architectural revitalization initiative that I created with seven other friends and architecture students. We hoped to do more than simply raise awareness about the Neptune Baths, “our home,”as we call it… protection and, eventually, repair of this exquisite relic. What a fantasy!
A young team of architecture students worked for two years to develop and approve a technical project- we researched all 62 single treatment rooms in three layers, scanned the main facade and main access with the help of two companies, mapped the degradation with a total of 265 degradation boards, made exact surveys of the house, and documented the details and ornaments. We spent hours chilling between its lovely shriveled walls, trying to get professionals to join our cause, promoting the initiative on social media, and attempting to include as many young people as possible.
Negotiations with the local authority, the building’s owner, local investors, and the community drew us closer to the harsh truth. Meetings with attorneys and governors taught us more about laws than design as architecture students. Contracts with the City were created and signed, and a review of previous legal challenges brought us back to reality. And all-nighters weren’t going away (and still aren’t). All of these processes were required in order to create ideas for the immediate action required to save the structure.
Despite their efforts, a portion of the structure fell. Now, that section of the home so deteriorates that we are counting the days till it completely collapses. What led us here? Property-related legal challenges, a lack of a trustworthy administrative partner, insufficient laws, a lack of money, over thirty years of apathy, corruption, and a lack of an integrated vision for cultural heritage are all issues. But this isn’t the case.
Because something great happened in the midst of all this darkness. People came together for a good cause and gave. We were able to earn more than 40k euros out of the 100k required to preserve this amazing landmark. Nonetheless, we have a long way to go. Volunteers also helped out at our summer schools, and our cultural programs introduced tourists to cultural values and history. We took measures to establish ties with the local community. Last summer, over 300 people attended our architectural excursions, and over 19,000 people follow and encourage us on social media. This was made possible by our narrative. Our obsession. Our commitment and hard effort. But Herculane has the wonderful ability to make you fall in love with it.
Now we just need to cross one more bridge to attain our first goal, which I am confident we will do with endurance, patience, and hard, hard, extremely hard effort. What is the point of telling you this story? Because the tale of a structure portrays a society that has lost hope. Where law, financing, expertise, and coordinated plans are lacking, we make up for it with enthusiasm. How are we going to rescue it? I question myself again, unsure of what tomorrow may bring.