In this week’s edition of Concrete Ideas, we spotlight one of Bucharest’s post-industrial landmarks, Fabrica (or Factory, as it is known in English).
Located near Carol Park, in the southwest of the Romanian capital, the red brick building was once a part of an industrial architectural complex dating back to 1898. For more than a century, it hosted a sock factory, Apollo. Yet, though it survived the transition to capitalism, the complex went bust in 2003. While some parts of the structure were demolished, with blocks of flats rising in their place, a part of Fabrica was saved and transformed into a bar, terrace, club, and arts centre — the first of its kind in Bucharest.
A key figure in the preservation of Fabrica and its transformation into a venue was local entrepreneur Virgil Horvat. He had a personal family connection to the landmark: his father had been an engineer in the former factory, so he knew the place well. But even Horvat’s own father thought his business initiative was mad.
Between 2007 and 2020, the place hosted concerts, indie shops, and Bucharest’s first indoor skate park. But, at the start of the pandemic, news broke out that the complex was at a risk of being knocked down again, to be replaced with an eight-floor high rise. A campaign called We Save Fabrica was launched to preserve the building’s legacy. As a result of its success, the landmark has since been added to the city’s listed buildings — a move that locals hope will keep Fabrica safe from demolition in the future.