Concept Structure is a leading structural engineering and design company that counts notable projects on the Romanian real estate market, such as Afi Mall Brasov, Millo and Tandem Offices, Stejarii Residential phase 2, etc.
As founder of Concept Structure, what is your personal vision for the company and the role you wish it to fill in the Romanian real estate market?
I started my career in 2006, but I have been passionate about construction ever since I was four years old, sneaking around the naval site near my house. As fate would have it, the first project signed by Concept Structure was at the Tulcea naval construction site, where we designed a 100 meter tall crane, the most beloved machine of my childhood. For the past two years we evolved step by step and managed to become a staple of the industry through total dedication towards projects and a progressive mindset. The vision is to bring and uphold the standard in structural engineering in Romania.
Not everyone on the market calls upon a structural engineering company to aid in their projects – why should they, and what is the added value brought?
Back in the 2000's when projects were on a roll, efficiency was not seen as such a vital concept, but nowadays everyone is keeping a close eye on costs – where we come in is in finding the perfect balance between lower prices and uncompromised quality. For example, we are able to obtain the right and efficient cost per square meter for all kinds of buildings: offices, residential, industrial, 20-30% lower than other players.
We always design projects following all the rules and regulations, with the help of the 10-year-old database we continually update. Materials and installations are always clear costs, but structure asks for efficiency, so we develop projects progressively – starting with special foundations and rafts (mainly in urban areas and specific to every type of soil we build on), continuing with, the most important part from our point of view in seismic design, the ground floor slab (+0.00 level) and the superstructure depending on construction type and keeping in mind the best efficiency consumption ratio between reinforcement/concrete and build areas.
As a strong point in designing a building we aim to obtain maximum 10-12% for unusable areas (stairs and elevator or corridors) based on intelligent solutions in structural design of main elements (cores, columns, slabs).
What would be some of the trademark projects you're proud of and how did you end up designing them?
We built our portfolio through recommendations from past clients and this is how we managed to work on top level projects in the country, like Afi City phase I and now phase II, Afi Mall and Offices phase 1 in Brasov , for Afi Europe, Millo Offices, Tandem Offices, and U Center phase 2&3 Offices for Forte Partners, Miro Offices and now The Ivy phase 2 for Speedwell , Stejarii Residential phase 2 for Tiriac Imobiliare, Granvia Marina for Granvia Romania, City Point Aviatiei for Shikun Binui. We always strive to upgrade elements of design and never go with the same pattern for several years because it would mean to offer obsolete solutions to constructors, something we adamantly avoid.
What are some of the main challenges a company like Concept Structure faces on the Romanian market and how can they be mitigated?
First and foremost, a design company in Romania is allocated around 1-3% for all specialties (architecture, MEP, structure, technical assistance on site and as built projects) of a total worth of a project. In Europe, by contrast, the average is 9%, so the value of our work is greatly underappreciated, unfortunately.
Human resources were yet another challenge that we managed to mitigate - it was extremely difficult to hire professionals who came from other companies, because they couldn't fit inside Concept Structure's mindset. Two years ago, we started a joint program with the Technical University of Civil Engineering and offered paid internships to a dozen students, most of whom stayed with us. Building sites pose their specific difficulties because we interact with clients, construction firms and consultants at the same time, and sometimes we have to work on extremely tight deadlines.
What did you make of the authorities’ recent suspension of zonal urban plans (PUZ’s) and their grand plans for the capital?
It's not a pleasant thing to go through, but in my opinion it was somehow necessary to put a halt to all the prior chaotic development. We have six projects of around 60.000-70.000 sqm each ( EUR 2 billion investment) that are now on hold. It has impacted our work directly. We have been in the concept design phase for ten apartment buildings in Bucurestii Noi area and all are blocked due to this decision. This is one of those massive projects that is way too important not to follow urban regulations. Moreover, the pandemic greatly impacted the real estate market, so the PUZ situation came as the cherry on top of the disaster cake. The solution would have been to hire specialized companies that could assess where the issues laid and stop only those projects.
What are the company’s main plans for the upcoming two to three years?
One of our most ardent dreams is to expand to international markets (Serbia, Poland, etc.) and this is definitely going to happen, even though now it seems like a difficult task due to the 1% versus 9% issue I mentioned before.
However, most important for us as a team is that all the important clients renew their confidence in our work by awarding us new projects after the old ones are over or during the development in different stages ( design, tender, technical assistance on site…etc). Consolidating our team is also on the list of priorities and things have been going really well in this direction, as some of our students hired not that many months ago managed to perform extremely well and that encourages us to keep on evolving on this path.
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