The engineer Cincinat Sfinţescu (1887-1955) may be considered the founder of Romanian urban planning.
He was one of the longest-lived specialists to hold management functions in the Bucharest City Hall, with a practical activity spanning over a period of 20 years, the author of the first urban plan of the General Systematization Plan for Bucharest (Planul General de Sistematizare) approved in 1921, the founder and the editor in chief of the only Romanian journals on urbanism, issued continually from 1923 to 1942, founding member of the Societatea Urbaniștilor din România (Romanian Society of Urbanists) in 1927 and then of the Institutul Urbanistic Român (Romanian Urban Planning Institute) in 1932, professor of urbanism and public works within three institutions of higher education, and founder of the first urbanism department at a Romanian higher education institution, within the Superior School of Architecture.
He had an extremely rich publishing activity developed over more than 30 years as he published over 250 scientific papers on urban planning and is the author of at least two remarkable great works in Romanian urban planning: Pentru Bucureşti. Noi studii urbanistice (For Bucharest. New urban planning studies), the first scientific study on Bucharest and Urbanistica generală, the first urban planning treatise written in Romanian. His interest in the emerging science of urban planning/urbanism dates back to the period of his scholarship for public administration studies he carried out in Berlin and it extended through study trips all over Western Europe (1910-1912) when he undertook the mission to set the basis for this new scientific discipline in Romania. Led by his engineering inner structure and formation, he wished to set up a strict and clear methodological framework for this new science that he himself was studying while rendering it popular for the specialists as well as for the wide audience. His work was encyclopaedic and his manner of approaching each topic – exhaustive. He was omnipresent at the events related to urbanism, the majority of which he initiated himself.
Cincinat Sfinţescu succeeded in bringing Romania up to date with the international urban planning theory and practice and he was credited for this great achievement during his lifetime. He was an active member of the most prestigious urban planning associations – International Federation for Housing and Town Planning (IFHTP) and Union Internationale des Villes (UIV). He was vice president of IFHTP between 1931 and 1939, he took part at the congresses organised by these organisations, he maintained correspondence with their respective publications and he sent country reports to be included in the general official reports of the time. He travelled extensively (including in America, at the end of the ‘30s) and he wrote about a wide range of experiences related to urban planning resulting from these trips (for example, the urban planning education in the university system all over the world).
We consider that the need for a distinct establishment of Cincinat Sfinţescu’s merits and contribution, above all, in the academic world, is crucial.
Articles (scientific contributions, studies, accounts, plans and projects)
Sfințescu actively published from 1910 to 1942. Over the course of 28 years he wrote at least 250 articles, which he published in 16 Romanian reviews:
Natura revista științifică de popularizare (Nature, revue to promote science), Buletinul Societății Politecnice (The Bulletin of Polytechnic Society), Buletinul Asociațiunei Generale a Inginerilor din România (A.G.I.R.) (Bulletin of The General Association of Engineers in Romania), Arhiva pentru Știință și Reformă Socială (Archive for Social Science and Reform), Revista Renașterea Română, Independența Economică, Revista Energia, Gospodăria Comunală, Monitorul Uniunei Orașelor din România (Monitor of Union of Romanian Cities), Edilitatea, Revista Cadastrală, Urbanismul (Urban Planninh), Tribuna Edilitară, Gazeta Municipală, revista Securitas, Lumea Nouă
Between 1928 and 1934 he wrote scientific articles which appeared in the publications of the International Federation for Housing and Town Planning and Union Nationale des Villes:
Tablettes Documentaires Municipales, Bulletin of the International Garden Cities and Town Planning Federation, International Housing and Town Planning Bulletin.
The articles, the notes, the reviews, the information and all the other materials published by Cincinat Sfinţescu sum up over 3100 pages.
He wrote 16 full issues of the journals Monitorul Uniunei Oraşelor din România and Urbanismul:
1926 (nr. 3, 4) 1929 (nr. 7-9, 10-12) 1930 (nr. 1-3, 4-8, 9-12) 1931 (nr. 4-6, 7-9) 1940 (nr. 5-7, 8-9, 11-12) 1941 (nr. 1-6, 7-9, 10-12) 1942 (nr. 1-6, 7-12)
Between 1912 and 1942 he authored 46 volumes, some of which contain articles previously published in the collections of the journals Buletinul Societății Politecnice (The Bulletin of Polytechnic Society), Buletinul Asociațiunei Generale a Inginerilor din România (A.G.I.R.) (Bulletin of The General Association of Engineers in Romania), Urbanismul (Urban planning).
International reviews of his works Pentru Bucureşti, Urbanistica generală and Urbanistica specială were published between 1932 and 1939 in:
City planning, L'Administration Locale, Revue Urbanisme, L'Architecture, Genova Rivista municipale, The International Housing and Town Planning Bulletin, Urbanistica, La Vie Urbaine, Revista Municipal Y de Intereses Economicos, Internationaler Verband for Wohnungswesen.
Sfințescu’s preferred themes:
garden cities, zoning, urban planning, housing, traffic, public hygiene, superurbanism – the national plan, education, national defense.
Bucharest City Hall:
Between 1914 and 1920 C. Sfințescu was Chief of the Planning Service, and starting from 1920 until August 1934 he was the Director of the Public Works Department / Cadastral Survey and Systematization Office.
In August 1934 he was dismissed from the position of Director within Bucharest City Hall and he became technical consultant at the General Secretary Office of the same institution.
1920-1947: professor of Urbanism and Public Works at Școala Superioară de Arhitectură | Academia de Arhitectură | Facultatea de Arhitectură | Politehnica București (The Superior School of Architecture | The Academy of Architecture | The Faculty of Architecture within Bucharest Polytechnics)
1921-1930: professor of Urbanism and Public Works at the Școala Specială a Ofițerilor de Geniu (Special School of Military Engineering)
1923?-1931: professor of Urbanism and Public Works at the Școala Superioară de Științe de Stat | Școala de Științe Administrative (School of Administrative Sciences)
In 1925 in Paris he established the contact with the international congresses organised by Union Internationale des Villes (UIV) and International Federation of Housing and Town Planning (IFHTP)
Member of Societatea Politecnică Română (The Romanian Polytechnic Society), from 1911
Member of Asociația Generală a Inginerilor din România (The Association of Romanian Engineers - A.G.I.R., from 1921; member of the Administrative Committee and cashier, 1922-1923
Technical secretary of Uniunea Orașelor din România (The Union of Romanian Cities - UOR), 1926-1932
Founding member of Societatea Urbaniștilor Români (The Society of Romanian Urban Planners), 1927
General Secretary of UOR and administrator of Urbanismul journal (1933-1935, 1938-1942)
In 1926 he was elected member of the IFHTP Council and in 1931 vice president of that Federation (merely honorary distinctions)
He took part at the IFHTP and UIV congresses of 1925, 1926, 1929, 1931, 1934, and 1939