Building inauguration years rendered architecturally

Building inauguration year in architectural renderings

Building inauguration year in architectural renderings (©Valentin Mandache, Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca)

The photo-collage above is composed by building inauguration year panels rendered architecturally, encountered by the author of this blog on edifices dating from a multitude of historical epochs in Bucharest and other locations in Romania. I used the illustrations as cover photographs for the Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca’s Facebook page. I usually present to the readers a cover photo per week, and the ones here are those scheduled for the first ten weeks of 2014. To find out details about the significance of those years and the buildings hosting them, you can click the links listed below. The links are arranged in the same scheme as the architecturally rendered years mentioned in the collage.

1900 : 1569

1894 : 1666

1724 : 1857

1908 : 1889

1898 : 1879

1940s lettering

1940s style lettering, name board of a shoe repair shop in Dacia area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

This is an original name board of a small shoe repair shop in Bucharest, which dates probably from the years of the Second World War. The lettering style is very evocative of that historical watershed period for the city and Romania in general. For me it suggests the streets of the city during the hot August 1944 days, when King Michael broke the disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany, arrested the pro-German dictator and joined the allied cause, saving the country from a looming catastrophic punishment invasion by the Red Army.

(I am grateful to Romulus Andrei Bena for pointing out this shop board, during a Historic Houses of Romania architectural walking tour in Dacia area, last year)

My architectural photographs published in the book “Lettering” by Andrew Haslam

I have been nicely surprised to discover a few days ago that a long awaited book containing two of my architectural photographs has been published! The work, entitled “Lettering. A reference manual of techniques” (Laurence King Publishing, London, 2011 ), is authored by Andrew Haslam, an authority in lettering and typographical techniques, who lectured  at the prestigious London College of Printing (now called College of Communication) and Central St. Martin’s School of Arts and Design in the British capital. My photographs depict the lettering displayed on the entrance pediment of “Liga Culturala” building (arch. Ion Trajanescu, 1929) and a fragment from the great frieze embellishing the courtyard of Central School (arch. Ion Mincu, 1890), which together open the section entitled “Rendered Lettering” of the book. I am of course very happy that a sample from the vast architecture of Bucharest, as seen through my eyes, has thus found an international outlet in such an elegant medium afforded by this volume. It is my second photo-mention in a book, after last year another of my architectural photographs was selected for illustrating a book publihed by a law specialist publisher from Oxford, UK, details of which can be seen at this link. I wish all the possible success to Andrew’s book and hope that Bucharest’s edifices and their decoration would start drawing attention to an as wide as possible public!

"Lettering: a reference manual of techniques" by Andrew Haslam (Laurence King Publishing, London 2011)

"Lettering: a reference manual of techniques" by Andrew Haslam (Laurence King Publishing, London 2011)

The author of this blog holding a copy of "Lettering: a reference manual of techniques" by Andrew Haslam (Laurence King Publishing, London 2011)

The two Bucharest letter rendering photographs in "Lettering: a reference manual of techniques" by Andrew Haslam (Laurence King Publishing, London 2011)

The two Bucharest letter rendering photographs in "Lettering: a reference manual of techniques" by Andrew Haslam (Laurence King Publishing, London 2011)

Acknowledgements section of ”Lettering: a reference manual of techniques” by Andrew Haslam (Laurence King Publishing, London 2011)

Acknowledgements section mentioning the Historic Houses of Romania blog and its author in "Lettering: a reference manual of techniques" by Andrew Haslam (Laurence King Publishing, London 2011)

***********************************************

I endeavour through this series of periodic articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.

***********************************************

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

Architectural 1910s letter rendering example from Bucharest

The pre-World War One architectural lettering exaples in Bucharest are relatively rare, with the one presented here adorning the ticket counter of the Iolanda Balas Stadium in the Kisseleff area of the city, itself one of the very few surviving sporting facilities from that era. The entrance to the stadium, seen in the third photograph bellow, contains well design neoclassical features and quite minimalist in its ornamental aspects, contrasting with the rich decorative architectural fashions of that era. According to a plaque affixed to the entrance wall, the stadium has been built in 1915 (a year of peace for Romania, which entered the Great War only one year later). I like the well balanced design of these letter and the discrete serifs which smooth their aspect and make their reading more cursive, reminding of the Victorian age newspaper headlines.

Letter rendering dating from the 1910s, Iolanda Balas stadium, built in 1915, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Letter rendering dating from the 1910s, Iolanda Balas stadium, built in 1915, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The entrance of Iolanda Balas stadium, built in 1915, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

***********************************************

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

***********************************************

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

Masonic, Phoenician?… inscription on doorway pediment

The doorway assembly of a house in Spanish Mission style dating from 1932, with a unusual pediment inscription. Kiseleff area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

I found in one of my research days in Bucharest in one of the most well-heeled areas of the city an inscription decorating the pediment of an inter-war Spanish Mission style house (one of the very few such design buildings from Romania’s capital) rendered in an unknown script. I tried to identify the letters in various online and paper printed sources, but to no avail. My impression is that the inscription is rendered in a medieval European alphabet revived and used by the Freemasons, who were vigorously active in Romania before the communist take over. I have already identified and published in the recent past photographs and considerations on a couple of long forgotten Masonic signs rendered as architectural decorations in another upmarket area of Bucharest, articles which can be accessed here and at this link. Another theory would be that the writing is Phoenician, the letters resembling somehow that script, my reasoning being that the house should have belonged to someone with Spanish connections (Romania used to have a sizeable Jewish Ladino community before the Holocaust and postwar emigration), as the architectural style would  imply, a land so much linked with the ancient Carthaginian civilisation. Anyway, I very much hope that someone from among my readers would be able to help in identifying the meaning of this peculiar piece of architectural history,.

Masonic or Phoenician inscription? on the doorway pediment of a Spanish Mission style hosue (1932) from the Kiseleff area of Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

PS In February 2011 I received an email from one of my readers, Mr. Ion Musceleanu, who conveyed to me an interesting interpretation of this inscription, made by a specialist in ancient Indo-European linguistics, known to the online community under the nickname Teofil. He considers that the text is in Sanskrit Devanagari, a script derived from the Gupta type, encountered in northern India and Nepal; the first row is a numa (“Gold”, “Golden”, which seems to be slightly misspelt), while the second row means “Fortune”/ “Chance”, again slightly misspelt. I would like to thank Teofil for this interpretation, which hopefully would help deciphering this architectural enigma of Bucharest.

***********************************************
Prin aceasta serie de articole zilnice intentionez sa inspir in randul publicului aprecierea valorii si importantei caselor de epoca din Romania – un capitol fascinant din patrimoniul arhitectural european si o componenta vitala, deseori ignorata, a identitatii comunitatilor din tara.

***********************************************

Daca intentionati sa cumparati o proprietate de epoca sau sa incepeti un proiect de renovare, m-as bucura sa va pot oferi consultanta in localizarea proprietatii, efectuarea unor investigatii de specialitate pentru casele istorice, coordonarea unui proiect de renovare sau restaurare etc. Pentru eventuale discuţii legate de proiectul dvs., va invit sa ma contactati prin intermediul datelor din pagina mea de Contact, din acest blog.

Neo-Romanian Style Architectural Lettering: Photomontage & Slide Show

Neo-Romanian style architectural lettering: examples dating from 1890s to 1940s, except the upper right hand corner panel Latin type derived from Old Church Cyrillic letters as seen in the c18th Bucharest church votive inscription from the upper left hand corner of this photomontage. (©Valentin Mandache)

The Neo-Romanian style architectural lettering is a Latin type rendering using peculiar letter shapes inspired from the Cyrillic script of the Old Church Slavonic texts. This distinctive rendering conveys a powerful identity message reflected in the use by the Romanian language speakers of both scripts throughout their history. The Romanian language is a Romance/ Latin origin idiom, sharing many similar traits with Portuguese and Sardinian, but with a strong Slavic influence over its vocabulary and grammar. That is the result of the historical cultural development of the Romanian communities in close contact with speakers of Slavic languages in South East Europe and as followers of a Christian Orthodox creed based for centuries on Old Church Slavonic liturgy. As a consequence, the influence extended to the use of the Cyrillic alphabet in rendering the Romanian language, until well into the c19th. The alphabet reform of mid c19th, a part of the then nation building process, saw the adoption of the Latin alphabet, perceived as more prestigious and proper for a Latin people, proud of its roots in the ancient Empire of Rome. However, the Romanians kept hankering back to the symbolism and messages of the Cyrillic script associated with the heroic medieval times of battles and resistance against the Catholic power of the Hungarian Kingdom or the Islam of the Ottoman Empire. That coincides with the identity messages of the Neo-Romanian order, that has its ideological roots in the c19th national romantic movement and glorification of the medieval past. As a consequence, the architectural lettering is a very important component of the Neo-Romanian decorative panoply. I collected in the photomontage above examples of this type of letter rendering from a multitude of sources: architect’s name tablets, proprietor’s name, school plaques, house name inscriptions, etc. dating from 1890s (see the Art Nouveau like shapes) to 1940s (see the discernible Art Deco patterns on the panel at the centre of the photomontage). There is also, for comparison, an old votive inscription in the Cyrillic script dating from 1715, that adornins the ‘Saint Apostles’ church in Bucharest, visible on the upper left hand corner of the photomontage. The panels are also displayed individually in the slide show bellow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

***********************************************

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

***********************************************

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.