Due to the COVID pandemic travelling has been quite hard. After almost no trips abroad it was finally time to hit the road again. Late September a 14-day roadtrip through Romania was the new adventure. We had several stops along the way and lots of places to check. Halfway during the trip we stayed in the capital for a few days because high on our list of places that we wanted to visit was the Omnia Hall. A brutalist building which once housed the Romanian Senate and the National Opera Theater.
A little bit of History
The building was designed by the architect Cezar Lăzărescu (1923-1986), in 1967, as an annex of the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party, an annex in which the party conferences initially took place.
After a governmental decision approved in September 2016, the Omnia Room passed from the National Bucharest Opera’s administration to National Center of Dance Bucharest’s (CNDB) administration, the only public cultural institution under the Ministry of Culture design with the purpose to sustain, develop and promote contemporary dance.
When we first got to the building, we had no idea how we would be able to get inside. We found a phonenumber and when we called it, the man on the other side told us that if we would come to the Omnia the next day, the boss would be there and we would be allowed to photograph the building. Sounded solid, it was a Sunday when we called…it did seem more likely that someone in charge would be there on a workday rather than a Sunday.
So we came back Monday morning around 9.00AM but … nobody was there. We called the number again but nobody answered. We decided to walk around Bucharest a little, have a cup of coffee and try again later. A little later we walked up to the building again, still nobody there but then I noticed a security guy coming our way. He barely spoke any English but with google translate we explained to him why we were there. He then took out his phone and called someone. An older man appeared who went inside but ignored us. He first left the door open but then suddenly locked it from the inside. The younger guy gestured us to wait.
A moment later a lady appeared, she seemed a bit confused when we said we spoke to someone on Sunday who told us that we could photograph the building today. She was one of the employees of Centrul Național al Dansului București, the organisation which onwned the building. Confused but absolutely friendly an willing to help us out. She went back to her office to talk with people in charge and told us to wait inside the Omnia. When she came back, it was arranged…we were allowed to photograph the building. In exchange we’ve sent them our photographs of course. The confusion later was cleared also, apparently the number was not of an CNDB employee but from one of the security guys who reffered to his boss.
The ground floor with the main entrance was allready very impressive with an ornated ceiling. On both sides there were stairs leading up to the second floor where the conference room was situated. There was a large lobby and two doors gave access to the amazing Conference room.
In the conference room there were still a few rows of chairs from the early days of the building. The ceiling had a cool pattern with lights. Wooden pannels covered the walls. Before I started photographing I took a moment to let it sink in that I was standing in the room where important conferences were held. Such an impressive room.
Behind the conference hall there was a room where most likely the speakers would wait before each conference started. There was a hallway connecting the Omnia to the Communist Party’s Headquarters which was the building next to the Omnia.
We spent quite some time exploring and photographing the building. Our new friend Maggie came back after about an hour and gave us a tour and told us more about the history and the purpose of the rooms. It was a brilliant visit and I would like to thank the Centrul Național al Dansului București very much for this oppurtunity!