A guide to the New East

Serene urbanism: these quiet photos of Bucharest will bring you instant calm

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How do you make grand, imposing government buildings appear warm and welcoming? Urban photographer Paweł Jaśkiewicz balances the harsh lines of architecture with pink, muted tones. When travelling to Romania at the end of 2016, the Polish photographer wanted to avoid clichéd travel photos. Intead of Nicolae Ceauşescu’s Palace of the Parliament, he wanted to show “the real condition of the city”. As he says: “I would often travel to the farthest station on the metro line and then walk back to the centre. I never planned my route, I mostly relied on my intuition.” The series is not completely devoid of public landmarks: it includes the Central University Library of Bucharest; the Casa Presei Libere, the tallest building in the capital until 2007; and a monument called Wings built in 2016 in memory of anti-communist fighters in Romania. In other photos we see the city unravel — cranes and street lights break the skyline, disused objects litter the ground. Jaśkiewicz says he was inspired by a description of Bucharest in Malgorzata Rejmer’s Blood and Dust: “the black cable skeins on pylons just like nests abandoned by birds, the atmosphere of excavation and makeshift next to banquets in shop windows, the overwhelming smell of linden and crushed grapes.” These glimpses of urban life are striking not for their clutter, but Jaśkiewicz’s ability to make them appear so tranquil.

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