The image, shown in true (above) and inverse (bellow) colours, depicts an entrance corridor giving access from the street gate to the garden of a late 1930s grand house in Icoanei area of Bucharest, in one of the many Mediterranean inspired styles developed in those very prosperous years for the economy of Romania, after the Great Depression and before the conflagration of the Second World War. The particular design of this edifice, designed by architect George Damian, models that of a Spanish medieval mansion, imagined under the Iberian burning sun, which is very fitting for the Romanian high summer climate, when temperatures can get close to 40 centigrades for weeks long, as is the case in this July 2012.
The economic prosperity of the mid and late 1930s in Romania, when the country was one of the world’s big oil exporters and an important agricultural producer, had also beneficial consequences for the architectural scene. Innumerable buildings in the Art Deco and Modernist styles were erected and the Neo-Romanian style was at the peak of its its late phase of development through unique syntheses with the Art Deco. One of most interesting evolution of the local architecture was the increased preference among the public for Mediterranean inspired designs. It was an escapist architecture, fulfilling the similar aspirations as the Art Deco ocean liner theme popular in the same period, expressing the desire of the inhabitants of this corner of Europe, bestowed with a harsh winter climate, to escape to the sunnier and balmier places of the Mediterranean. The architecture on this theme developed in a series of sub-currents, spanning from Venetian and Florentine forms to Spanish and Moroccan ones or even fantasy fairy tale castle interpretations. A somehow more minor branch was what I would call the “mission” style, which to me is evocative more of California than of the Mediterranean. An interesting example which I would put in that category is the balcony presented here, located in Dacia area of Bucharest. The wooden elements are exquisite, of pleasant to the eye proportions and still in an excellent state of preservation, now nearly eight decades since their creation.