Daily Picture 21-Feb-10: Art Nouveau Style Property Defaced by Ignorant Owner

One of the countless examples of defacement and destruction of historic houses in Bucharest by ignorant nouveau riche owners. (©Valentin Mandache)

I made the montage above from photographs taken at a distance of one year from each other (autumn 2008 – ’09) of the doorway of a superb 1907 Art Nouveau style house in Cismigiu-north area of Bucharest. The owner has replaced the original and valuable Art Nouveau glass and wood door with an unsightly mass produced, modern metallic one, which does not have anything to do with the style of the house. The owner is from among the class of nouveaux riches that emerged in post-communist Romania and have started to acquire historic property in central areas of Bucharest. The lot, as a rule, is very arrogant and ignorant in cultural and historic matters, with devastating consequences for the properties which fall into their hands. In a majority of cases they abusively demolish the historic buildings in order to have them replaced with modern characterless houses or in ‘best instances’ deface the period property replacing the original artefacts with modern mass production equivalents, perceived as more prestigious and valuable. In the instance pictured above, the owner is most probably convinced that the market value and aesthetics the house were greatly enhanced by replacing the despised old ‘strange looking’ door. The phenomenon has reached dangerous proportions in Romania, threatening the integrity of the built heritage and identity of the local communities.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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