At the Forefront of the Romanian Design Industry
Romanian architecture and design office CUMULUS outlines ambitious plans to make waves in the construction industry with fully integrated products across several segments
Writer: Dani Redd | Project Manager: Ryan Gray
You wheel your suitcase down a smooth path towards a high-rise hotel, its windows gleaming in the light of the setting sun. You step through the revolving doors into a spacious lobby. On your left is a scandi-style open plan office area, and to your right are the reception desks, where smartly dressed men and women are waiting to check you in.
This is the Courtyard Marriott in Bucharest, and it was designed by CUMULUS, a dynamic Romanian architecture and design firm making waves in the market.
“CUMULUS was founded in 2017 by the fusion of three well-established architectural and design offices: SYAA, ARXTUDIO and PZP,” explains Razvan Puchici, one of the firm’s three Senior Managing Partners. “Our main objective was to create a bigger, stronger and more competitive entity, raise the bar and move things to the next level.
“This has happened as today CUMULUS is one of the biggest and most successful offices in Bucharest, with over 60 specialists ready to take on the most challenging projects in all areas.”
CUMULUS is a progressive architecture firm that aims to raise building standards and create the infrastructure for prosperity in the Romanian market.
“CUMULUS is among the very few offices offering full-service design, including architecture, urbanism, engineering, MEP and project management,” says Puchici’s fellow Senior Managing Partner Adrian Soare. “It is a pioneering matrix of work and we believe it will open a new decade in the Romanian real estate market.”
In previous years, the Romanian real estate market has seen robust growth. According to global property firm Colliers International, in 2019 construction and real estate transaction contributed almost one percentage point to Romania’s four percent economic growth between Q1 and Q3.
“As an emergent market, Romania represents one of the top European investment spots at the moment. There’s a real effervescence with many projects in all areas that gives us the feeling that everything is changing for the better, a feeling of novelty and freshness,” says Liviu Zagan, the third of the Senior Managing Partners joining the conversation.
“Objectively, Romania needs a lot of investment in infrastructure, mainly in civil construction,” adds Soare. “I am not referring to the ‘speculative areas’ such as residential, office, industrial, but public interest objectives where authorities are expected to invest, like museums, theatres, multi-purpose indoor arenas or other iconic buildings of major interest.”
CUMULUS is perfectly poised to produce the creatively designed yet functional buildings that the Romanian market so clearly needs. The firm has made particularly strong inroads into the hospitality sector, building hotels for international brands. In 2019 it designed all phases of the Hilton Garden Inn airport hotel and the Marriott Courtyard, including site supervision.
“We are currently working on a five star hotel with 216 rooms in an iconic historic building of Bucharest – Marriott Autograph – which will open in 2021, and Marriott Moxy, a millennial-oriented hotel with a very playful attitude and design, set to open in August 2020,” says Puchici. “We have also started the concept design of a five-star hotel in Prahova Valley, our most famous mountain area.
Zagan adds: “We have now established an internal division specialising in hospitality projects that brings us a competitive advantage versus the other players in the market. And we hope that after the COVID-19 crisis Romania will, once again, be an attractive investment country in the hospitality area.”
However, despite its specialism in hospitality, CUMULUS is advancing into other areas, including office building and the industrial sector. What’s more, last year it won the architectural and curatorial contest to design the Romanian Pavilion for Dubai Expo 2020, proposing a ‘new nature’ concept that highlights the need to find a new harmony between humans, nature and technology.
“Our main idea was that in such a fragile point of our existence we need to look around, to learn and reset things,” Soare explains. “The pavilion was designed as a platform for putting right questions and showing the path to finding a new sustainable balance, which is very important for our world today.”
Alongside this fantastic win, CUMULUS also took on its first military project, Mihail Kogalniceanu Base, which involved working with both the US and Romanian armies.
“The biggest challenge was to deliver a project to comply with Romanian, European and US standards, which in some cases are quite different,” Puchici says. “Also, most of the complexity came from putting together in a functional and pragmatic way an airport passenger and cargo terminal, fuel capacities, railway and road design – with all the flows, the standards and limitations.
“We managed to finish it in the contractual terms due to our dedicated design team and our experienced architects and engineers, but I can say it was tough.”
This year, CUMULUS will be using its new-found expertise to help extend the civil airport in Craiova, one of Romania’s largest cities.
When asked for one of the reasons for the company’s meteoric success, Zagan cites CUMULUS’s healthy relationship with its partners and suppliers.
“We decided as a strategy that all our major subcontractors should be part of a group of companies alongside us. All our entities are designed on our post-fusion model for complete compatibility and efficiency of processes,” he explains.
This working model enables CUMULUS to deliver high-quality products to the agreed timescale, another reason ensuring the company continues to successfully complete projects.
All in all, the future looks bright for CUMULUS. All three Senior Managing Partners feel optimistic about 2020, and the company’s three-year plan to consolidate its position as a multidisciplinary full-service design office, one which continually strives to improve its integrated product.
“We are perhaps the most experienced office in the hospitality area, but even intend to strengthen this expertise to become the best and most well-known,” says Puchici. “We’ll also further pay attention to the projects in the office, residential and industrial areas of the market, where we gained a lot of experience in the past.”
Having spoken to the trio, there’s every reason to believe that CUMULUS will succeed in realising its ambitious goals for the future.