ART NOUVEAU restoration project in Bucharest

I was really surprised the other day to encounter while passing through the Popa Soare quarter in Bucharest, a unique ART NOUVEAU restoration project on a street that contained private residences built in many architectural styles, that all are in dire need of major immediate redecoration and repair, let alone restoration.

Art Nouveau restauration project Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Nouveau restoration project Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

That makes this project even more remarkable, especially because in Bucharest there are just a handful of such thorough restoration projects. A majority of the grand old houses are left in disrepair, plagued by ownership disputes as the state gradually and grudgingly gives them back to the descendants of the former owners. Some of those houses are superficially renovated, and put on the market through unprofessional estate agents with great pretence at incredibly high prices (from my research, in many instances the asking prices are higher than in London’s Islington or Paris’s Montparnasse). Also many of these houses suffer irreparable damage at the hands of incompetent builders and decorators.

In this case the owner is to be applauded for undertaking a good quality project that most probably involves a great deal of financial effort. On the entrance façade there is a large plaster medallion with typical Art Nouveau floral and feminine motifs that, as far as I as able to decipher, has dispalyed at its centre the letter “M,” which is probably the house owner’s monogram.

Art Nouveau restoration project Bucharest, 2009 (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Nouveau architectural detail, Bucharest restoration project, 2009 (©Valentin Mandache)

I knew the house from my promenades throughout the area a number of years ago, but many of its façade details were in a bad shape or erased by utilitarian renovations in the post-war years. At that time I could recognize the windows as Art Nouveau style, most conspicuously the leaf-floral shaped first floor terrace window.

Art Nouveau restoration project Bucharest 2009 (©Valentin MAndache

Art Nouveau restoration project Bucharest 2009 (©Valentin MAndache

The owner has probably benefited from the existence in the local the archives of photographs and plans showing how the house used to look in its glory days, and also it seems that proper specialists were brought in for the restoration works.

Restoration project- Art Nouveau in Bucharest, 2009 (©Valentin Mandache)

Restoration project- Art Nouveau in Bucharest, 2009 (©Valentin Mandache)

The case presented here is a very rare occurrence in this city. I very much hope the trend would continue. The main problems on the horizon for such quality projects to become more numerous are the financial crisis that can hit the owners’ finances and the unravelling of the Romanian property bubble, phenomenon that can open the access to this type of property to speculative buyers that do not appreciate or are ignorant of the historic and architectural value of a period property. ©Valentin Mandache

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If you are interested in acquiring a period property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to assist in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contactpage of this weblog.

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15 comments on “ART NOUVEAU restoration project in Bucharest

  1. Astazi am descoperit cu uimire cladirea!Cu uimire pentru ca este intr-o zona ce mi-e bine-cunoscuta, dar si pentru ca stilul lui Gaudi nu e nici pe departe ceva de gasit in urbea noastra. Inteleg din ce scrieti ca este o cladire care initial nu a avut tendintele Art Nouveau din prezent si ca orientarea respectiva a aparut doar in cursul renovarii?! Oricum, este minunata, dar as putea sa jur ca nu arata asa acum 30 de ani(si ma refer strict la stil, vazut prin ochii unei persoane fara pregatire in arhitectura).
    In alta ordine de idei, mare noroc ca am gasit blogul dvs, este extrem de interesant!Continuati, este minunat!

    • Cladirea veche era un stil Mic Paris destul de clasic, cu elemente neo-rococo, cea de acum e un fenomen absolut singular pe scena arhitecturala bucuresteana. Multumesc pentru incurajari! Cu stima, VM

  2. this is another beautifull building that we found photos about it through our research.. and we need to know if it has been restored or not yet???
    and some information about it like:
    the building materials
    the restoration materials and equipments
    the time of restoration and who was in charge of

    • This particular house is still in the restoration process as the owner uses his own funds in that enterprise. The restoration is however not following the original outlines of the initial building, but is in large part the idea of the actual owner and also his designer of how an Art Nouveau house would have looked in Bucharest one hundred years ago. It is in that aspect a halfway process between restoration and innovation. The material used are, as far as I know, of highest quality, from marble and granite from Italy and Romania, special double glazing windows made in the Art Nouveau Style, special concrete and structural elements that would leave the building to “breath”, copper roof, organic paint, etc. I hope those information would help in your project!
      Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses

  3. I’m just curious about this project since I first saw it in 2007, I think, how much of what’s being done in terms of restoration is according to the original project and how much is inspired by the art nouveau style and produced in recent period? Are there any photos of this building before the works started? It would have been interesting to see a before and after.

    This project puzzles me because, if such a house, as the one which we can admire from recent photos, would have existed in this form at the turn of the century, then, mostlikely it would have been mentioned somewhere, in an architecture history course or book. Bucharest has extremely few examples of art nouveau as pure as this building depicts it.

    I’m saying that maybe a little bit of inside info would be appreciated (if you are in a position to know and write about such details), like a short history of the house, inside photos (I’ve seen some interiors in the summer of 2009 from the street as the workers were putting together the interior rails pannels in the courtyard), how this house came to be and if, by chance, the initial exterior design was modified in the construction phase (it happens a lot even nowadays).

    Without these essential pieces, the puzzle remains. What is such a building doing in Bucharest? (art nouveau in those forms is not specific to this city.)

    My humble suggestions and opinions.

    • Hi, thank you for your comment! You are quite right in your views and hypotheses. I had the honour of being invited by the owners of this house for a visioning, a few months after writing this article. The house is a new Art Nouveau project grafted on an older structure, which used to be a Little Paris style house. The designer employed by the proprietors is a talented plastic artist and his skill was abundantly confirmed by what I could see both within and without the house. This type of Art Nouveau is a synthesis between its Central and Southern European traits, being the most representative such building in the city, ironically built a century after the twilight of that style. It is, in my opinion, an imaginative and beautiful contribution to the the architectural aesthetics of this city. I have in plan an article, more or less on the lines suggested by you; I hope to have enough time to finish it in the second part of this year.VM

    • Thank you for your nice words! The Art Nouveau style in Romania has two distinct manifestations- the Transylvanian one, which is a Hungarian and Austrian expression of this style and a southern (Wallachia) and eastern (Moldavia) variant, which is usually French inspired, prevalent in old Romania, before Transylvania became part of the country. VM

  4. Your blog and, most expecially, your comments, are very, very, interesting. I’m very interested in Romania’s architecture and all kind of rehabilitation projects of old romanian buildings. I’m glad to see that some cities such as Slatina, Botosani have such kind of projects. I hope that yours will be an exemple to the others. Congratulations!!

  5. Wasn’t this villa supposed to be finished by now??Are there any recent photos…some interior ones?

    Thank You and have a great week-end !

    • I understand that this Art Nouveau project is still ongoing, being extremely laborious, detailed and high cost. Bucharest is going to have quite an architectural jewel nevertheless at the end of that long, but worth the while, road. Valentin

  6. Thank you so much for posting this, I have been looking for a house in the Art Nouveau style in Bucharest for some time now.. You’ve truly made my day :)

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