The Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest, Romania designed by architect Anca Petrescu for Nicolae Ceauşescu is today a multi-purpose building that contains both chambers of the Romanian Parliament. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Palace is the world’s largest civilian administrative building, most expensive administrative building, and the heaviest building.
Entire neighborhoods were destroyed to make way for the building, equating to an area the size of Venice. Among that which has been lost are churches, synagogues, valuable historic constructions and 40.000 people were forced to move. Most of them, to newly constructed communist blocks of flats of a poor quality in the city.
At the time of Nicolae Ceauşescu’s 1989 overthrow and execution, the building structure and design were complete. With supreme irony he never had the chance to occupy the monster he created. Subsequently, many of the furnishings were never installed (mostly evident because of the many large, empty spaces throughout the palace), while the last three basement levels and a large clock tower (that would display the official Romanian time) were never finished. During the regime change, the new leaders of Romania referred to the building as the House of Ceauşescu, to highlight the excessive luxury in which Ceauşescu would have lived, in stark contrast to the squalor and poverty endured by many people living in the surrounding neighbourhoods.
Everything about the building is supersized: Petrescu led a team of 700 architects to build the project. In the ’80s 20,000 men worked in shifts for 24 hours a day. The building contains 1,100 rooms. Today the building has a symbolic ambiguity, after so many Romanian people laboured over it’s construction it is hardly surprising it was not demolished. Like it or not, the portentous building over which so much was lost and so many suffered has become the architectural symbol of Bucharest.