Monday 21 April bank holiday architectural tour: Art Deco and Modernist Bucharest

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you this forthcoming bank holiday, on Monday 21 April ’14, to a thematic walking tour for about two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h on the subject of the Art Deco and inter-war Modernist architectural designs of Bucharest. The tour may be of interest to any of you visiting the city as a tourist or on business looking to find out more about its fascinating historic architecture and identity.

The Art Deco style, peculiar to the “roaring ’20s” and the 1930s was the first truly global architecture, embraced with gusto by the Bucharest people and the rest of Romania. The city became in those years a veritable Art Deco architectural regional “power“, embellished with high quality edifices in this style, many of which are still around, for us to admire and investigate, despite the terrible historical upheavals of the last eight decades in this part of Europe. A favorite Art Deco theme in Bucharest was that of the ocean liner, reflecting the longing of inter-war locals to travel to exotic places in the southern seas, far away from the local Siberia-like winters. The inter-war Modernist style and syntheses between Art Deco and Modernism are also well represented in Bucharest, with creations signed by talented architects such as Horia Creanga or Duiliu Marcu. That great multitude of buildings were developed on a solid economic background when Romania was one of the main oil exporters of the world and also an important agricultural producer. The present tour endeavours to locate and explain some of the representative edifices in the Art Deco style  in central Bucharest and give you a well referenced overall image about how these designs impacted the identity of this city and Romania in general.

The tour costs Lei 35 (Romanian currency) per person, book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of meeting place on booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses (tel: 0040 (0)728323272)

Art Deco Bucharest – architectural tour

Historic Houses of Romania architectural tour: Art Deco Bucharest

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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.

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

Architectural tour on Saturday 12 April: Remnants of the Great Exhibition of 1906 in Carol Park

Dear Readers,

I would like to invite you to a Historic Houses of Romania tour in Carol Park, which apart from intellectual fulfilment, would also offer the possibility to take a breath of fresh air. The tour is open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of blog, for two hours, on Saturday 12 April ’14, between 11.30h – 13.30h.

We will identify and examine the fascinating vestiges of the Great Exhibition of 1906 (also known as the Royal Jubilee Exhibition, see the pictures presented here), held in that park, created specially for the event, when the Neo-Romanian architectural style was popularised to the wider public, contributing to the inception of its mature phase of development for the next two decades and large scale adoption throughout Romania and neighbouring regions, where the country had a direct influence, especially during the interwar period.

The 1906 Royal Jubilee Exhibition has been the largest such event in south east Europe, modelled after the great universal exhibitions that took place in the western capitals or America starting with the mid c19th. The event was a proud gathering place of some of the best creations Romania had to offer to that date, celebrating 40 years of King Carol I’s glorious rule that saw the economic advancement and achievement of the country’s independence and also 1,800 years since what are now the Romanian lands were conquered by the Roman Empire (what is known in historiography as Emperor Trajan’s second Dacian War), which thus ignited the formation of Romanian language and people. The exhibition whose remains we are going to admire in this special tour, was the equivalent of the TV or the websites of its day, thus immensely contributing to the spread of fashions, especially Neo-Romanian architectural models throughout the whole of the then Romania.

Book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of meeting place on booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses (tel: 0040 (0)728323272)

Historic Houses of Romania tour : the remnants of the Great Exibition of 1906 in Carol Park, Bucharest

Historic Houses of Romania tour : the remnants of the Royal Jubilee Exibition of 1906 in Carol Park, Bucharest

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

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)

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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.

Kiseleff area: images from last Sunday’s architectural history & photo tour

Kiseleff area, Bucharest: images from last Sunday’s (10 July '11) architectural history & photo tour (©Valentin Mandache)

The photomontage presented here is just a minuscule sample from the extraordinary richness and diversity of historic architecture encompassed within Bucharest’s Kiseleff area, the jewel in the crown for Romania’s capital’s iconic architecture. The tour was well attended by passionate and informed participants and I was only pleased to be their guide! We viewed and photographed a wide range of public and private buildings, from arch. Victor Stefanescu’s “Geological Museum” (1906-’08), a huge and unusual Neo-Romanian style edifice that is like a zoomed in picture of a normal size mansion in that style, or Ion Mincu’s Causeway Buffet (1889-’92), one of the earliest Neo-Romanian style buildings, considered as his most beautiful and accomplished creations, to a multitude of elegant houses in Art Deco, International Modernist, Neo-Romanian of all species and synthetic styles typical of Bucharest’s inter-war period. The tour has thus been a good comprehensive review of what Bucharest had best to offer in terms of historic architecture and I trust that the participants enjoyed this intellectuality loaded day out! :)

Kiseleff area, Bucharest - last Sunday’s (10 July '11) architectural history & photo tour (photo: Romulus Bena, Prietenii Scolii Centrale)

The above photograph presents tour participants listening to yours truly, in front of the Museum of Romanian Peasant, a magnificent palatial Neo-Romanian style building, displaying motifs and symbols from throughout all of Romania’s historic provinces, with references to the Byzantine, Gothic and also Islamic Ottoman models, an architectural message about the geopolitical position of the Romanian lands throughout their history at the junction point of the Christian (both Eastern and Western) and Islamic civilisations. The edifice was designed by arch. Ghica Budesti in 1912 and completed in 1940.

Kiseleff area, Bucharest - last Sunday’s (10 July '11) architectural history & photo tour (photo: Idei Cusute)

Tour participants in front of the Causeway Buffet. The edifice is considered today as one of the most important and seminal Neo-Romanian style structures ever built.

Kiseleff area, Bucharest - last Sunday’s (10 July '11) architectural history & photo tour (photo: Idei Cusute)

Participants at the tour and guide taking a break in a piazzetta off Kisseleff Boulevard, admiring the multitude of grand and flamboyant Neo-Romanian style edifices surrounding them on all sides.

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses

!!! The next Sunday (17 July ’11, 9am-12.00) architectural history and photography tour will take place in Patriarchy Hill historic quarter, south-central Bucharest (see a map at this link); meeting point: Piata Unirii tube station (in front of the exit on Boulevard Dimitrie Cantemir, next to Horoscop Restaurant. I look forward to seeing you there !!!

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

Images from last Sunday’s architectural photo-tour in Mantuleasa historic quarter, Bucharest

Bucharest's Mantuleasa quarter amazing potpourri of architectural styles. Images from last Sunday's architectural photography tour. (©Valentin Mandache)

Last Sunday, 12 June ’11, I organised a second architectural photography tour in Bucharest, this time in Mantuleasa historic quarter. The area is mostly residential and endowed with a very diverse and exuberant period architecture ranging from beautiful Brancovan style churches dating from the late c17th to picturesque French c19th historicist and Art Nouveau architecture to flamboyant inter-war Neo-Romanian and slender Art Deco and International Modernist style dwellings, all within the space of probably less than one square kilometre. A very small sample of the architectural photographs shot during that tour are presented in the above montage. The architectural mix of Mantuleasa, although is apparently exhilaratingly chaotic, it nevertheless follows certain unwritten trends that render its architectural and social history discernible to the visitor. I trust that under my expert guidance :), the participants at the tour have thus discovered some of the more intricate architectural puzzles of this fascinating corner of Bucharest, shot excellent architectural photographs and had a nice day out!

The next Sunday (19 June ’11, 9am-12.00) architectural photography tour will take place in Carol Park historic quarter, south central Bucharest (see a map at this link); meeting point: Tineretului tube station (outside southern exit, toward Tineretului Park). I look forward to seeing you there and go exploring this more than fascinating city corner!

The 12 June '11 architectural photography tour in Mantuleasa historic quarter, Bucharest (photo: arch Daniela Puia)

The 12 June '11 architectural photography tour in Mantuleasa historic quarter, Bucharest (photo: arch Daniela Puia)

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

The dancing Art Nouveau style graces of Mantuleasa quarter

This post is a teaser for tomorrow’s photography architectural tour in the Mantuleasa historic quarter of Bucharest at which you are all invited (meeting point in front of Bucharest Tourist Information office from within the University Subway area between 8.45am and 9.00am. The tour will take place between 9am and 12.00 and costs 35 lei (Romanian currency) each.

Bellow are two interesting Art Noveau style basrelief panels dating from the 1890s representing scenes with dancing graces, inspired from ancient Greek and Roman mythology, located in Mantuleasa area of Bucharest. The dancing graces motif was frequently encountered in Art Nouveau visual arts compositions, being promoted by greats such as the actress Sarah Bernhard, the painter Alphonse Mucha, so important for the Art Nouveau current, who used the beautiful Sarah Bernhard as his model, or the dramatist Edmond Rostand to cite just a few.

The panels presented here were produced, in my opinion, as a direct consequence of Sarah Bernhardt’s presence in the mid 1890s Bucharest when she and her theatre company performed widely acclaimed plays at the National Theatre that comprised dancing graces scenes and also because of the popularity of Edmond Rostand’s writings among the high society of Bucharest who at parties and gatherings in their palaces acted in his plays, clad in fairy costumes similar with those presented in these architectural panels. Even the then Queen Elizabeth of Romania and Marie, the Crown Princess, were known to have acted at the Royal Palace in such plays by Rostand.

Dancing graces, Art Nouveau style in Mantuleasa quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The panel above shows a group of dancing graces, accompanied by music from a flute and tambourine in a scene imagined from the ancient classical mythology (dionysiac mysteries if we judge after the grape fruit used as headdresses or some kind of harvest festival).

Dancing graces, Art Nouveau style in Mantuleasa quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The second Mantuleasa dancing graces panel presents a group of teenage looking female personages, holding each other and also carelessly revelling, accompanied by a Greek flute (syrinx) and tambourine, which somehow reminds me of the dionysiac initiation misteries from the great fresco at the Villa of the Misteries in Pompeii. I like the grace standing alone on the left hand side of the panel, which holds in her hand an open papyrus scroll, a personification Calliope, the muse of poetry, perhaps.

Dancing graces, Art Nouveau style in Mantuleasa quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The photograph above shows the house hosting the two Art Nouveau style dancing graces panels from the Mantuleasa quarter of Bucharest. The overall architectural style of the house is a modest Beaux Arts, which is greatly enhanced by those wonderful basreliefs, constituting a reminder of the wonderful and creative years experienced by this city during the Fin de Siécle period.

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

Art Deco era street number

Street number dating from mid 1930s affixed on the wall of an Art Deco style house from the Dorobanti area of Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

This is a good quality example of architectural lettering from the Art Deco era, still bravely surviving on the wall of a quite run down Bucharest house. I like how the designer combined reduced to essence shapes like squares and semicircles to create that beautiful Art Deco style artefact. A few months ago I published on this blog a photomontage of another few examples of Art Deco street numbers encountered on Bucharest’s houses that can be accessed by clicking here.

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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 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.

Architectural photograph provided to UK publisher for book cover composition


"Feminist Judgments", Hart Publishing 2010, book cover photograph provided by the 'Historic Houses of Romania' blog.

I was pleasantly surprised when a few weeks ago I received an enquire from Hart Publishing, the largest independent academic law publisher in the United Kindom, based in Oxford, asking for the permission to use one of my architectural photographs for the cover design of one of their forthcoming books. The volume is entitled “Feminist Judgements. From Theory to Practice”, edited by Rosemary Hunter, Clare McGlynn and Erika Rackley, UK academic specialists in the field. Its cover design has now been completed and appeared on Hart Publishing’s website, a copy of that image being displayed above. The statue represents the Goddess of Justice, part of a statuary panoply on the façade of the National Bank of Romania headquarters in Bucharest, about which I wrote a very popular article last year and also published a photomontage a few weeks ago on this blog. The c19th sculptor modelled the goddess statue after that of an working or middle class Romanian woman from the area of Bucharest at the end of the Victorian era, a fact which gives it an air or remarkable realism and humanness. I photographed the statue on a very beautiful Bucharest September day last year, at the sunset, having excellent natural light conditions, which were enhanced by the nice yellowish texture of the stone from which the statue assembly is made. The photograph is, in my opinion, exceedingly appropriate for the subject of the book, and I am delighted that the obviously experienced and insightful picture researcher employed by Hart Publishing has chosen my photograph to illustrate this interesting forthcoming book.

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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 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.

Classical echoes in an Art Deco design doorway

Art Deco style doorway, embellishing an early 1930s house in the Cotroceni area of Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

There is a classical theme discernible in the design of the doorway assembly presented above, namely that of the Ionic order. That can be seen in the fluting (vertical grooves) of the door’s two side columns, feature also suggested by the vertical bars forming the gridiron of the door window, which is poignantly crowned by Ionic order capital motifs (the ram’s horn). I like the way how the 1930s architect adapted with great ease these classical elements to the Art Deco design scheme, without even a hint of dissonance between the ancient and modern patterns. Even the “S” shaped door handle participates to that wonderful play of proportions and contours.

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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 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.