Art Deco sunbursts

Art Deco sunbursts

Art Deco-like sunbursts in the summer of 2012, Grivita – Domenii area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I am a great fan of the cheerful Art Deco panels that depict sunbursts, rainbows or southern seas themes. In that spirit I have put together a real sunburst photographed last summer in Grivita - Domenii area of the city, a quarter that is still preserving its inter-war charm when it was built up in large part in the Art Deco style, then much in vogue in Bucharest, and the emblem of an insurance company, ornament that dates from the Art Deco era, located in the town centre. Looking at the natural sunburst is easier to understand the message, optimism and confidence exuded by the Art Deco panels of Bucharest and the culture of that beautiful time in the history of architecture.

Art Deco sunbursts

Art Deco sunburst as part of the composition of an inter-war Romanian insurance company emblem, University area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Images from the “Late phase of the Neo-Romanian style” architectural tour on 25 August ’12

Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca tour, 25 August ’12: the late phase of the Neo-Romanian architectural style

I would like to share with you a small sample from the magnificent multitude of Neo-Romanian style houses that belong to the late phase of the development of this design peculiar to Romania, which were viewed and examined during the 25 August ’12 tour guided by the author of this blog. In basic terms it represents a synthesis between the Neo-Romanian and mainly Art Deco, or said differently- the national architecture of Romania expressed in the Art Deco coordinates of the period between the late 1920s and the mid-1940s. The modern construction technologies that emerged in the roaring twenties affording the development of light, airy structures expressed in the Art Deco and Modernist architecture, were quite antithetical to the traditionally heavy, built in brick and masonry, Neo-Romanian style edifices, as typical to its early and mature phases of the previous four decades. That led to a crisis within this indigenous architectural order, threatened by the high popularity among the public of the international modern styles, which were all the rage in Bucharest during the 1930s. The Neo-Romanian style managed to survive and even thrive, until the watershed of the Second World War, through fascinating syntheses especially with the Art Deco designs.

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Adam and Eve in Art Deco and 1960s communist representations

The primordial couple, Adam and Eve, is a predilect theme in the visual arts. The architectural decoration is no exception in that regard. I found during my fieldwork in Bucharest two such representations, an Art Deco style bas-relief embellishing the pediment of a 1929 apartment house entrance, and a statue, part of the garden design of the garden of a mid-1960s communist block of flats, both shown in the photographs bellow.

Adam and Eve in an Art Deco era representation, 1929 house, Cismigiu area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The Art Deco era panel is, in my opinion, a fairly good artistic product, on classical or even Rodin-inan lines, inviting to philosophate about the symbolism of this couple in the conditions of the inter-war period, at the beginning of the Great Depression. I like the altar, with a base in three steps, and a three groove shaft, all conforming to the Art Deco’s rule of three, on which the two personages lean, engulfed within the radiation generated by the sacred fire. Adam and Eve in this instance look quite androgynous, which conform to the Greek classical norms of uncertain gender portrayal.

Adam and Eve represented as a pair of communist youth in a 1960s sculpture, Domenii area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The couple from the mid-1960s statuary composition is also a rendering of the Adam and Eve theme, but in the communist ideology coordinates that pervaded the life and society of Romania of that period. It represents a pair of Romeo-and-Juliet age adolescents, not of an aristocratic outlook, but in what were then considered healthy, study outlines of the working class individuals. The 1960s was a period of thaw within the communist world, after the harsh Stalinist post-war years, and in Romania in particular that was reflected in good quality artistic and also architectural productions (see for example the remarkable Modernist designs of the hotels embellishing the Black Sea resorts). This statue exudes something from that more propitious atmosphere and in my opinion is of a better artistic standard than the Art Deco bas-relief described above.

Adam and Eve in Art Deco and 1960s communist representations, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco in the heath of the night

Art Deco sight in the heath of the night, Domenii quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Bucharest now goes, as many other places in the northern hemisphere, through a terrible heath wave, which has unfurled for a month now and is still going on unabated. The city in this period went through temperatures of over 35 – 37 centigrades or even higher, which in my opinion is an obvious sign of a the ongoing climate change. The nights are hot too, many people taking walks on the streets, going to parks or sitting on balconies at very late hours. I have been one of those strollers, walking in the last few days late at night up and down the streets of Domenii quarter, which is near the area where I currently live. It was developed in the inter-war period and contains some beautiful examples of Art Deco architecture. I found very interesting to observe how the architectural forms and all sorts of details show off in the clear-obscure of the discreetly lit residential streets of this quarter. The diverse decorations, motifs embellishing the old houses look like glowing or vibrating in very warm air, and the flying insects crowding around light bulbs complete the exotic atmosphere, which coincide with the southern seas theme (jungle and sunburst motifs, ocean liner shapes, etc.) so typical of Bucharest’s Art Deco architecture. Here are two Art Deco entrances shot during those late hours, which I believe relay something from what I have seen and sensed about Bucharest’s historic architecture in the heath of the night.

Art Deco in the heath of the night, Domenii quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Architect’s and builder’s name tablets

Architect and builder’s name tablets, late 1930s Art Deco – Later Neo-Romanian style, Dorobanti area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I am always on the lookout, during my routine architectural history fieldwork in Bucharest or other places in Romania, for name tablets: architect’s, builder’s and also proprietor’s name tablets. They are important documentary elements that can give clues about the history of the house, its more precise dating, style and manner of design and also in case the architect is famous, can noticeably increase the value of the propriety. I struck lucky with the example seen in the photograph above, by finding “two for the price of one” such artifacts. There is a tablet containing the name of  the famous architect Gheorghe Simotta and another of a highly reputable building company of inter-war Bucharest, Belli Brothers. The lettering of the two tablets contrast in their manner of rendering- that of the architect having the letters protruding out, while the constructor’s one is grooved within surface. They adorn a grandiose Art Deco – Later Neo-Romanian style edifice from the Dorobanti area of Bucharest. That mix of styles can also be noted in that of the lettering: Simotta’s tablet being in the Art Deco vein, while Belli Brothers’ inclining toward the Neo-Romanian lettering style.

Art Deco style school

I continue here the series of posts dealing with the historic architecture of the city of Ploiesti, the major oil extraction and refining centre of Romania. Today I would like to present a remarkable Art Deco style school building, dating probably from the second part of the 1930s, located on Republicii Boulevard, just across the street from the Art Deco era tram, which I documented in a post published yesterday. The school is named “St. Basil Gymnasium” (“Colegiul Sfantul Vasile”), presenting a symmetrical street façade, where the rule of three is noticeable in the window partitions at its centre. The building features a number of interesting Art Deco elements, seen in the following photographs, comprising details such as well designed doorways for boys (“baieti”) and girsl (“fete”) to a nicely preserved 1930s clock. I will let the photographs to speak for themselves and hope that you would enjoy this short visual Art Deco in this corner of south east Europe.

Art Deco style school, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, entrance for girls, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, detail of the doorway ironwork featuring the Greek key motif, a suggestion that the school is envisaged as a "temple of learning", Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, entrance for boys, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, detail of the doorway wall opening decoration, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, detail of the doorway for boys pediment, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, detail of the doorway for girls pediment, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, detail of the letter architectural rendering used for doorway inscriptions, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, close up of the late 1930s, made in Germany clock, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, details of the side façade and doorway, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco style school, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

Art Deco era streetcar

Art Deco era streetcar, Michael the Brave Park, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

The streetcar in the above photograph is a transport history exhibit placed in Michael the Brave Park in Ploiesti, the major oil production and refining centre of Romania. It dates from the 1930s, a time when the Art Deco architecture was highly fashionable there, along with the Neo-Romanian style. Ploiesti boasts the largest, in my opinion, Art Deco style building in the south east Europe: the Central Market Halls, designed in the first part of the 1930s by the great architect Toma T Socolescu, a native of the area, and also a multitude of other such wonderful edifices, such as the house which I documented in this blog article. The tram seen here, with its fine and simple outlines, also reminds of the Art Deco fashions found besides architecture, in a multitude of domains such as industrial machinery or jewellery design.

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

Art Deco lightwell

Art Deco lightwell, mid 1930s apartment block, Dacia area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

This is a photograph taken during last Sunday’s architectural tour in Dacia area of Bucharest. It is the lightwell of pleasing to the eye proportions, of a modest apartment block dating from the Art Deco era. I like the contrast between its quite stern grey outlines and the blue of the sky, giving the impression of a time window, making a link between the Bucharest of eight decades ago and nowadays.

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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.

Mondrian like Art Deco – Modernist hallway floor patterns

Art Deco - Modernist ceramic tile hallway floor patterns in a flat from a late 1930s apartment block, Magheru area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I recently had the opportunity to view a flat in a well designed Art Deco – Modernist style apartment block in central Bucharest, dating from the last years of the 1930s. I have been “blown away” by the exquisite ceramic tile (3 x 3cm squares) patterns that embellish the entrance original hallway floor, a fragment of which is shown in the above photograph, which also reminded me of Piet Mondrian‘s paintings of that era. That is in my opinion a first class modernist design, comparable in many aspects with another ceramic tile pattern arrangement, which I documented some time ago (article at this link). It represents an eloquent proof about the quality of the interior design and architecture in general, produced in Bucharest some eight decade ago.

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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.

Art Deco garage door masterpiece

I discovered during the last Sunday architectural history and photography tour in Calea Calarasi area of Bucharest a tantalizingly beautiful Art Deco style garage doorway, presented in the photographs bellow (the same image processed in three different sequences in order to better outline various parts of its delicate design). I am very impressed by its quality and excellent proportions that please the eye, and also by its good state of preservation. The design reminds me of paintings typical of the Bauhaus school, something like a cross between Mondrian and Paul Klee. The theme is a 1930s era factory with clerestory roof windows (the sawtooth-like elements), chimney stacks from which smoke billows out, clouds and Suns in different positions, at dawn- on the left, midday- in the centre and dusk- on the right, signifying a working day at the factory. The wall surrounding the door opening also contains a similar theme Art Deco design, which unfortunately is now quite obscured by a layer of whitewash. On the whole, I believe, this garage door is quite an work of art and a testimony of the quality of Bucharest’s Art Deco era architecture.

Art Deco garage door, Calea Calarasi area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco garage door, Calea Calarasi area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco garage door, Calea Calarasi area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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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.

Domenii – Casa Scanteii area: images from last Sunday’s architectural history & photo tour

Domenii - Casa Scanteii area Sunday architectual tour (©Valentin Mandache)

We had, last Sunday in the Domenii – Casa Scanteii area of Bucharest, an extensive and in my view mind-blowing viewing and examination of two major genres of 1930s architecture: Art Deco and “Stalinist Gothic”. Again, I was very fortunate to have enthusiastic and well informed participants from a variety of backgrounds. Domenii quarter has been developed mainly in the 1930s and ’40s and hosts a myriad of equisite Art Deco and peerless Neo-Romanian – Art Deco amalgam style dwellings, built for the inter-war Bucharest’s elite. Nowadays the area is in a rapid process of being taken over by the new class of post-communist Romanian moneyed people who unfortunately are not cultured or sophisticated enough to understand the importance of conserving that heritage and, as a result, a large part of those buildings were demolished, replaced with characterless massive new structures or in the best case aggressively renovated. Casa Scanteii – the former headquarters of the communist central press, located close by Domenii quarter, is the second largest building of this country, second after Ceausescu’s enormous House of the People, itself one of the largest in the world. It was designed by a group of architects led by Horia Maicu and built in 1950 – 51, following the model of the 1930s Muscovite buildings known as the “seven sisters”, a species of grandiose communist era Art Deco style structures erected in the 1930s Stalinist Soviet Union. The building was intended to stamp on the Soviet domination of Romania and herald the dawn of a new era and society in this corner of the world. While Casa Scanteii looks from afar similar with its Soviet counterparts, at a closer examination its architectural details are very indigenous- inspired from the late medieval Wallachian church architecture (Brancovan style) and using a multitude of Neo-Romanian style motifs. Even its monumental doorways look like a Wallachian church entrance. These absolutely particular aspects of this Stalinist era building, which are today forgotten by the locals specialists and laypersons alike, were closely examined and discussed by the participants at the tour. I trust that those who took part in the tour had thus a fulfilling cultural Sunday out and now are the privileged keepers of some of the most interesting and esoteric architectural history information about this corner of Bucharest! :)

Domenii - Casa Scanteii area architectural tour

Domenii - Casa Scanteii area architectural tour

!!! The next Sunday (21 August ’11) architectural history and photography tour will take place in Campina and Comarnic, OUTSIDE Bucharest, on the Prahova Valley (1h 15min hour by train), see a map at this link; meeting point: Gara de Nord train station, in front of McDonald’s restaurant, inside the station. I look forward to seeing you there !!!

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses

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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.

Road utilities and Art Deco style house

During the “roaring ’20s” and in the second part of the 1930s, after the Great Depression, Bucharest went through a process of rapid urban. That was the period when the first proper urban development masterplan of the city was elaborated and approved, which in large part is still followed today. The architecture of the new dwellings and public edifices erected in those years was usually Art Deco and Neo-Romanian.

I found in one of my field day in Kiseleff area an interesting side street developed in that period, where I was able to discern its evolution, from first having in place the road utilities, followed in the subsequent years by houses built on plots lining up the road. The photograph bellow shows a canal lid dating from 1927, inscribed with the name of Bucharest’s sewerage works board and produced by a factory in Sibiu, Transylvania, the new province of then Romania acquired after the Great War. That indicates with a fair degree of accuracy the period when the road was built and its utilities infrastructure put in place.

Road infrastructure and Art Deco style house, Kiseleff area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The year on the canal lid corresponds with the beginnings of the Art Deco era architecture in Bucharest, a style clearly reflected in that of many houses built in subsequent stages on that road, as is the interesting example shown in the following photographs.

Road infrastructure and Art Deco style house, Kiseleff area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

This ample Art Deco style house was probably built roundabout the year 1930, judging by it typology, building technology and type of ornaments.

Road infrastructure and Art Deco style house, Kiseleff area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The house is embellished with a beautiful Art Deco panel containing luxuriant flowers and vegetation, sunburst and rainbow motifs. I like how the rainbows are marked by thunderbolts, suggesting the storms of the southern seas, a world that enthralled the Romanians of that era, dwellers of a latitude with harsh, Siberia-like, winters.

Road infrastructure and Art Deco style house, Kiseleff area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The house also boasts a beautiful ethnographic solar eight ray disc, inspired from the Neo-Romanian architecture, rendered in this case in an alluring Art Deco manner.

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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 style villa name panel

Art Deco style villa name panel, early 1930s house, Aviatorilor area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I photographed the above panel in the low luminosity of twilight, which gave it a soft appearance. It indicates the name of a Bucharest inter-war villa, “Vila Marioara” (“Little Mary Villa”) in an interesting lettering style, with letters linked together on a background of “Southern Seas” flowery vegetation, very popular in Art Deco architectural representations of the 1930s 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.

Art Deco style villa name panel

Art Deco style villa name panel, early 1930s house, Aviatorilor area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I photographed the above panel in the low luminosity of twilight, which gave it a soft appearance. It indicates the name of a Bucharest inter-war villa, “Vila Marioara” (“Little Mary Villa”) in an interesting lettering style, with letters linked together on a background of “Southern Seas” flowery vegetation, very popular in Art Deco architectural representations of the 1930s 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.

Art Deco staircase tower window

Art Deco staircase tower window, mid-1930s house, Matei Basarb area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I like the svelte lines of this staircase tower window from an Art Deco house in east-central Bucharest, which is excellently preserved despite the inauspicious conditions that prevailed in the country ever since the beginning of the WWII. Its quite austere lines remind me of the high tech factories of that era (e.g. automobile or aircraft industry), a main source of inspiration for the Art Deco style.

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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.