COMMUNIST ERA ARCHITECTURAL ORNAMENTS in Bucharest

Romania’s communist era apartment blocks are noted for their substandard and coarse finishes and near total absence of ornaments or other decorations. This type of grotesque building started to define the city’s skyline in the second part of the 1950s, becoming emblematic for the entire metropolitan area by early 1980s. That is the communist building boom period characterised by the emergence of huge quarters of unsightly apartment blocks (see my previous post on the Four Building Booms of Bucharest for more information on the city’s real estate history). The construction of these dwellings was motivated by the communist ideology for utilitarian and equalitarian housing and also to accommodate a large inflow of population originating in the countryside needed for the communist sponsored heavy industries (the city’s population more than doubled in that period). The number of these buildings in Bucharest is so large that many were erected even in the city centre next to the old palaces or the quaint Little Paris or Neo-Romanian architecture houses. 

I found such an example of a ten-storey block in the vicinity of the Boulevard Magheru, an important shopping area that has some of highest rents in the European Union. What sets apart this communist building from the others is the primitive ethnographic decoration occurring on the concrete balcony showing the ethnographic Indo-European symbol of the Sun (the stylised six spoke wheel). 

Solar ethnographic symbols on communist era block of flats, Boulevard Magheru, Bucharest 2009 (Valentin Mandache)

Solar ethnographic symbols on communist era block of flats, Boulevard Magheru, Bucharest 2009 (©Valentin Mandache)

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