One of the most original projects to be seen in this city for many a year, the transformation of an old industrial water tower into a Bucharest landmark is now complete. The work of Make a Point, an organisation committed to bringing art closer to people and to promoting the Pantelimon area of Bucharest just as it is (warts and all), the Pantelimon Art Tower first came to public attention last year, when Make a Point held a competition to choose a mural to place at the top. The winning entry was a design by the Lebanese artist Georges Daniel, and was unveiled on New Year’s Eve 2012.
The mural, however, was only the beginning of Make a Point’s plans for the 37-metre high water tower (a part of the Postavaria textile plant). A rather exterior staircase has now been added, allowing visitors to climb up to a viewing deck from where you can admire the Pantelimon neighbourhood, as well as get a closer look at Daniel’s mural.
Built in the 1960s the water tower is still functional, and with the opening of the staircase now serves three functions. Make a Point (whose HQ is in a building next to the tower) now make use of the interior for exhibitions and installations: windows have been added and as you make your way up the exterior staircase, you can look inside and see the work on display (which is often hung from the rafters).
The real joy of the tower however is the perspective of Bucharest you get from the viewing platform. For what you see from up here is far more representative of this city than what you will see from any of the tall buildings closer to the city centre. The blocks, the factories, the traffic: these are what an eastern European city like Bucharest is all about. Blocks in which people sleep, before travelling on the busy roads to their places of work in the factories. It has been argued by one of the founders of Make a Point, Madalina Rosca, that to properly understand - and even begin to like - Bucharest we should start by exploring the city’s margins, for they are as an important part of the city’s urban and cultural heritage as the more postcard-friendly centre. We are inclined to agree: indeed, as any regular readers will know we have recently begun to feature parts of Bucharest other city guides never reach: Titan, Bucurestii Noi (see inyourpocket.com/lvb for these features if you missed them in print). To us, Bucharest means the whole city, not just the more (in)famous bits in the middle. In Make a Point, we are happy to have found an organisation that shares this vision.
So we wholeheartedly recommend a trip to the Pantelimon Art Tower. To get there, take bus No. 104 from Piata Unirii. It’s a long ride, which takes in some of the less picturesque parts of Bucharest: if you have been paying attention, however, you will realise that’s kind of the point...