Central School for Girls’ logo

The Central School for Girl's logo, displayed on the street facade of this renowned Bucharest high school (the abreviations stands for Scoala Centrala de Fete),

The Central School for Girl’s logo, displayed on the street façade of this renowned Bucharest high school, designed by architect Ion Mincu in the early Neo-Romanian style, 1891. The abreviations stands for Scoala Centrala de Fete. (©Valentin Mandache)

Early Neo-Romanian style house in Campina

I have found in Campina, a beautiful town north of Bucharest, on Prahova Valley, during the preparation of the last year’s architectural tour in that location, an interesting Neo-Romanian house, belonging to the early phase of development of Romania’s national architectural style. That period unfurled between 1886, the year when Lahovary House, the first Neo-Romanian edifice was built by the architect Ion Mincu, and 1906, when this design peculiar to this country, was “codified” within the architecture of the great buildings that functioned as pavilions of the Royal Jubilee Exhibition of 1906 in Bucharest. The Neo-Romanian style subsequently underwent a mature and also a late phase of development until its zenith in the late 1940s.

Early Neo-Romanian style house, dating from the early 1900s, in Campina (©Valentin Mandache)

This wonderful example from Campina dates, in my opinion, from the 1900s, exhibiting a mixture of Neo-Romanian and Little Paris features, characteristic of the early phase of this design. Specifically Neo-Romanian is the three arched veranda, coloured ceramic medallions or the toothed brick arch above the doorway. Little Paris is the general aspect of the building, a wagon house facing the street, with a typical doorway woodwork and roof finial. The house has probably underwent a series of renovations throughout more than a century of existence, which altered or erased part of its ornaments and other architectural details, the most aggressive such intervention taking place, in my view, in the last few years.

Early Neo-Romanian style house, dating from the early 1900s, in Campina (©Valentin Mandache)

Nevertheless the structure retains enough original elements and details that preserve its original early Neo-Romanian character. The duo-tone processed photograph above emphasizes even more the outlines of this picturesque house, giving us a better idea about its interesting mix of Neo-Romanian and Little Paris designs.

Early Neo-Romanian style house, dating from the early 1900s, in Campina (©Valentin Mandache)

The main Neo-Romanian sector is the three arched veranda, a reference to the Christian holy trinity. That is also seen in the three-lobes forming the arch span. The broken arch feature is a reference to the Ottoman-Balkan architectural traditions of this region, as seen in the local Brancovan style churches of the c18th and early c19th centuries, a main source of inspiration for the Neo-Romanian design. The veranda poles are of ethnographic type, as encountered in peasant houses, another fountain of inspiration for the national architecture.

Early Neo-Romanian style house, dating from the early 1900s, in Campina (©Valentin Mandache)

The most eye catching elements of the facade are the glazed ceramic medallions embellishing the entrance sector or the wall space between the arches and windows. The coloured ceramic on building façades is a Victorian era innovation, that had somehow faint echoes in Romania of that period, seen mostly in early Neo-Romanian edifices. Above is a rendering in that material of a Brancovan church frieze medallion, in its turn inspired from Ottoman-Balkan Islamic architecture. Suggestive for Neo-Romanian is the toothed brick arch, which is an allusion to pre-Brancovan church architecture (as seen for example in Mihai Voda Church‘s brickwork).

Early Neo-Romanian style house, dating from the early 1900s, in Campina (©Valentin Mandache)

I particularly like the yellow and blue coloured ceramic medallions pointing out the wall between the arches that together with the brown-red shade of the façade rendering, which originally was probably a Pompeian red hue, used in the decoration of many early and mature phase Neo-Romanian edifices, make up the colours of Romania’s national flag, a peculiar instance that I encountered in few other examples of houses in this design genre.

Images from today’s tour about the early phase of the Neo-Romanian architectural style

Historic Houses of Romania walking tour, Satuday 14 April '12: the early phase of the Neo-Romanian architectural style (©Valentin Mandache)

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Buzau Commune Palace columns

The Buzau Commune Palace has been inaugurated in 1903 and is the work of Alexander Savulescu, a prominent Fin de Siecle era architect of Romania, famous as the designer of the Post Office Palace in Bucharest, which today hosts the National Museum of History of Romania. The Buzau edifice quarters the mayoralty and its name comes from that of the old administrative unit that in the late c19th described towns or districts grouping villages, a “commune”. It is the most flamboyant creation of Savulescu’s career, in a very peculiar style that blends Neo-Romanian elements rendered in part in an Art Novueau matrix, local architectural motifs found in the Little Paris style houses of Buzau tradespeople or aristocrats and decorative patterns inspired from the grape vine plant, a main crop of the area, symbolising an important component of Buzau’s economy.

Bellow are a photographs depicting a few columns and column elements that embellish the palace’s ground floor gallery. The column capitals are in their turn crowned by ample pediments, in the manner of those featured by the old Wallachian country mansions from the Ottoman period, decorated with the PC (Commune Palace) monogram, surrounded by vine leaves and grapes. The capital itself is also formed from an interesting composition of vine leaves.

Buzau Commune Palace column, 1903, architect Alexandru Savulescu (©Valentin Mandache)

Buzau Commune Palace column pediment, 1903, architect Alexandru Savulescu (©Valentin Mandache)

Buzau Commune Palace column capital, 1903, architect Alexandru Savulescu (©Valentin Mandache)

Buzau Commune Palace columns, 1903, architect Alexandru Savulescu (©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 Contactpage of this weblog.

Images from last Sunday’s architectural history & photography tour in Carol Park area

Architectural history and photography tour of Carol Park area, 19 June '11, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The third architectural history and photography tour took place last Sunday, 19 June ’11, in Carol Park area of south central Bucharest. The park hosted in 1906 the great National Royal Exhibition, held to celebrate King Carol I’s jubilee of 40 years of glorious reign, during which he modernised and Europeanised the country, won its independence from the Ottoman Empire on the battlefield and extended its territory to the shores of the Black Sea. The exhibition has also been intended as a showcase for the new national architectural style, known today as Neo-Romanian. Anyone intending to properly understand this architectural order, needs to study the designs used for the buildings making up that exhibition, the problem being that nowadays, more than one century later, there are just a few surviving remnants of those edifices and artistic creations. I aimed in my tour to chart and mentally reconstruct as much as possible from the old Royal Exhibition, and I believe that I was quite successful in that endeavour, judging from the feedback received from some of the participants. We viewed, for example, a reinforced concrete bridge, a technical rarity for that era, adorned with Neo-Romanian motifs or admired a great sculptural assembly in the Neo-Romanian style. Apart from the park, we visited the surrounding area, where the local architecture was visible influenced by the archetypes showcased at the exhibition. A highlight of the tour was Filaret train station, the first railway terminus of Bucharest, dating from 1869, about which I wrote an article yesterday, click the link here for access. The photomontage above presents some of the interesting buildings from different historical eras encountered during the tour and bellow is a selection of photographs with the wonderful tour participants, together with a slide show encompassing those images.  I trust that the participants had a beautiful day out, shot attractive architectural photographs and enhanced their knowledge about the remarkable architectural history of this corner of Bucharest!

The next Sunday (26 June ’11, 9am-12.00) architectural history and photography tour will take place in Cismigiu historic quarter, west central Bucharest (see a map at this link); meeting point: Izvor tube station (outside eastern exit, toward the fast food restaurant). I look forward to seeing you there!

Architectural history and photography tour in Carol Park area, Bucharest, 19 June '11 (photo: arch. Daniela Puia)

Architectural history and photography tour in Carol Park area, Bucharest, 19 June '11 (photo: arch. Daniela Puia)

Architectural history and photography tour in Carol Park area, Bucharest, 19 June '11 (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.

Evolution of the Neo-Romanian architectural style

Neo-Romanian houses showing this style's evolution over at least one decade and a half (ie early-'20s - mid-'30, Soseaua Viilor area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I found the two Neo-Romanian houses pictured above as very instructive in showing the evolution of this style during a quite short period in the first part of the c20th, when technology innovations, new building materials and fashions gave a new dynamism to the Romanian architectural scene. The buildings are located next to each other, fronting the street, and therefore excellently placed for an outside observer to study their differences and style intricacies.

The building at the top is the earlier built one, dating probably from the early 1920s, possibly mid-1910s, just before Romania entered the Great War (1916). An elements which distinguishes it as being from that period is the heavy wall structure made mostly from brickwork, which afforded a limited number of window openings and just a single upper floor. Stylistically the house has many elements peculiar to the early Neo-Romanian style such as indentations mimicking the crenels of a fortress  and other citadel-like motifs seen on the veranda and top of the faux tower at the centre. Other early Neo-Romanian aspects are the Byzantine-Ottoman inspired window frames and arches as well as the chunky grapevine motif frieze, all echoing the Art Nouveau current popular in the previous decades. There are also elements borrowed from the Little Paris style (French c19th historicist architecture interpreted in a provincial manner in Fin de Siecle Romania) noticeable especially in the steep slope roof crowning the faux tower.

The second building, at the bottom of the photograph, belongs to the mid-1930s era, when the wider use of structural elements made from reinforced concrete afforded a much slender appearance and also a greater amount of fenestration, additional floor levels and a taller roof. Stylistically one can easily notice a departure from the Ottoman and Byzantine motifs (present here mostly in the ornamentation of the faux tower roof, most prominent such element being the beautiful finial that crowns that sector of the roof) toward the Art Deco. The syncretism between the Neo-Romanian and the Art Deco is especially displayed in the reticular ornamentation of the balcony fences and the aspect of the window frames.

These two buildings are a proof of the dynamism of the inter-war Romanian architectural scene and of the flexibility and adaptability of the Neo-Romanian style to evolving fashions, concepts and technologies.

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I endeavor through this daily 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.

Early Neo-Romanian style window

Early Neo-Romanian style window, dating from the 1890s, Armeneasca area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The window and the building which it adorns date from the last decade of the c19th, a period when the Neo-Romanian architectural style was still in its infancy. I documented in previous blog articles a number of such exquisite houses, which display decorative and structural features from that fascinating formative period, click here or here to access some examples. This particular window displays an interesting transition between between elements peculiar to the Little Paris style (French c19th historicist styles interpreted in a provincial manner in the late c19th Romania), such as the two classical like columns or the flower garland rim, and Wallachian church and Ottoman decorative elements, where most conspicuous are the type of the broken arch crowning the top of the window and the repeating leaf motif decorating the pediment.

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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.

Early Type Neo-Romanian Window

An early type (1910s) Neo-Romanian style window from Mosilor area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The Neo-Romanian style features a number of types/ phases and directions of development throughout its history as an architectural order. What I call the early Neo-Romanian style is how it was imaged and presented by the architect Ion Mincu, the initiator of this style, and his students, in its first phase of development. This type was fashionable from the 1890s until the end of the Great War, when the style entered what I call the citadel type of the development (see a citadel type example by clicking here), subsequently evolving on a multitude of directions and fashions. One of the most obvious characteristics of the early Neo-Romanian style is the recycling of late medieval Wallachian church architectural motifs, which in their turn derive in large part from a rich Byzantine and Ottoman Islamic decorative register. The window example in the image above, which I photographed in the Mosilor area of Bucharest, belongs to that phase or type of development. The window panes resemble those of the Southern Romanian churches, together with the spiral grooves on the side columns or the heavy arch that spans them. The abundant grapevine frieze and the two stylised floral Greek type crosses flanking the arch are also taken from the church decorative panoply. I very much like the two white painted eagles from the top edges of the picture, which represent the heraldic sign of the old Principality of Wallachia, another symbol present on local church decoration stating the secular power of the princes, vassals of the the Sublime Porte, that once ruled over the lands of Southern Romania.

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small 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.

Daily Picture 4-Mar-10: Quaint Early Neo-Romanian Style House

An ealy type of Neo-Romanian style house, with discernible Art Nouveau outlines, dating from the turn of the 19th to 20th century, inspired from the first and more elegant buildings created in this style by the architect Ion Mincu. Maria Rosetti area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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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.

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

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.