Daily Picture 23-Feb-10: Compact Design Apartment Building from Art Deco Era

An early 1930s Art Deco style block of flats of a very compact design imposed by the small available building space and street corner location. Unirii area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

Bucharest is a large city in terms  of population (about 3 million inhabitants, including the numerous unregistered internal migrants), but extremely compact in terms of available space for its people. The lack of building plots is a perennial problem especially in the central areas that overlap with the old chaotic and high density urban spread dating from the Ottoman times. The inter-war architects were extraordinary talented and resourceful when faced with those limitations, making ingenious use of the minuscule and arcane shape space available. A telling example is the Art Deco style apartment building in the image above, which I found in Unirii area hidden behind a huge row of communist era brutalist block of flats. The 1930s architect has managed to provide an aesthetically pleasing façade that incorporates many Art Deco hallmark elements like the ocean cruise liner motifs of round window and flag post, together with the glazed stairs tower. The famous Art Deco ‘rule of three’ inspired from the then fashionable Egyptian antiquity legends is also conspicuous in the number of floors or bedroom window sections, etc. What I like very much are the fine touches that sooth and tame the building compactness like the delicately rounded street corner or the ingenious geometry of the 1st and 2nd floor bay-windows (on the left hand side façade). The building is in a poor state today as most of Bucharest’s architectural heritage, waiting for elusive better times and prospective more careful and history aware custodians to bring them back to their former glory.

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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.