The Project


Future On The Past

From early 20th century architecture photography collection to database: digital humanities applied to investigate local seismic, flood, fire culture

Project financed by UEFISCDI following the PCE competition - Exploratory Research Projects 2021, through PNCDI III, sub-programme P4 Fundamental and frontier research, Grant agreement no. PN-III-P4-PCE-2021-0609.

Project Duration: 30 months: June 2nd, 2022 - December 31st, 2024

Principal Investigator: Maria Boștenaru-Dan, PhD Architect, Scientific Researcher

Research field and areas


Subdomain - SH5. Cultures and Cultural Production: Literature, philology, cultural studies, study of the arts, philosophy

Research Areas

SH5_12. Computational modelling and digitisation in the cultural sphere

SH5_6. History of art and architecture, arts-based research

SH5_8. Cultural studies, cultural identities and memories, cultural heritage

See first results

Executive Summary

The project proposes the transformation of the collection of photographs of early 20th century architecture (Art Nouveau and Modernism across Europe) gathered by the applicant over about 30 years of travel, into a database by answering the research question on how threats from the hazards of earthquake, flood and fire can be answered taking into account the local culture in the European countries covered, for buildings from a period when the architecture styles were global already that time. For this purpose digital humanities methods of image annotation (including architectural volumetric analysis) and mapping are employed. Apart of the mapping which takes also the form of story maps, being thus in dialogue with literature analysis methods of the relationship between traditional and modern in crisis times, also online exhibitions will be created. The subject is innovative as only recently the role of humanities in the fields of history and art history started to deal with the subject of catastrophes, following social sciences which entered this field of engineering and natural sciences. With this aim evaluation criteria will be developed considering the decisions which can be taken to prioritize the retrofit interventions depending on the geographic positions of the buildings. The analysis methods of philosophy of materials and technology history of these architecture objects are important, the theory of the shape from the time, but also phenomenology and the philosophy of Deleuze.



The project follows 3 yearly stages, comprising as top activities field research, data gathering and database creation and extensive publishing.


Participation in conferences and architectural, built heritage and risk events, mainly related to Art Nouveau, the International (Inter-war) Style.


List of abstracts, articles, books and conference presentations, in BDI and ISI publications, as well as other sources of dissemination.

Heritage Database (to be completed 2024)

Years covered

The Team

Dipl.-eng. (architecture/TH), PhD Scientific Researcher, IMUAU

+ 20 years research experience

20th century heritage, disaster management, digital architecture history

Maria Bostenaru-Dan Principal Investigator  

PhD Architect, Habil. Urban Planner, IMUAU Professor

+ 25 years research experience

landscape design, landscape urban planning

Cerasella Craciun Senior Researcher

PhD Architect, Lecturer,

Built Heritage Consultant 

Built Heritage expertise on Art Nouveau

Mara Popescu Postdoctoral Researcher

PhD Architect, Scientific Researcher, IMUAU

ecosystemic architecture, eco-design and circularity, institutional management, entrepreneurship


Ionut Adrian Ibric
Postdoctoral Researcher

UAUIM research project page - EN 

UAUIM research project page - RO