Earlier this month the world lost an innovative defender of art, heritage and architecture. You’ve probably never heard of him; I hadn’t, until I read his obituary. His name was Eugeniu Iordachescu. In the 1980s, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu undertook a series of disastrous urban planning projects, turning downtown Bucharest and other city centres into brutal (not just brutalist) communist architectural nightmares. Centuries-old buildings were destroyed to make way for generic apartment blocks. The effect is referred to as “Ceauşima”, Romania’s own Hiroshima. Happily, the genius of Iordachescu saved more than a dozen churches, monasteries and other historical structures. His solution: dig under the buildings, sink a huge concrete plinth beneath them, then lift almost a thousand tons of stone — in one piece — onto specially adapted train tracks to be moved to safety. Calling this an astonishing feat of engineering is an understatement. The final years of the Soviet Union and i...

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