Architectural hen pen from Fin de Siècle period

Architectural hen pen dating from the 1890s, Targoviste, southern Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

The backyards of the period houses often hold hidden treasures and curiosities of architectural history, from fragments of decorations and structures much older than the street façade, to garden gazebos or former farm constructions. I had the rare opportunity to encounter in Targoviste, 80km north-west of Bucharest, a beautiful hen pen structure, dating from Fin de Siècle period, which models a human dwelling at a smaller scale, of a style popular in those times in Romania’s towns. It follows the design of an Alpine chalet, which is part of the spa architecture fashion spread in the 1880s -1890s throughout central and eastern Europe.

Architectural hen pen dating from the 1890s, Targoviste, southern Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

The former backyard of the grand house that contained this hen pen is now exposed to the street following probably the demolition of the building that previously obscured it and sale of the plot of land on which once stood. The pen was of a mixed domestic fowl use, with compartments for hens and possibly ducks or geese within its lower floors and pigeons in the attic.

Architectural hen pen dating from the 1890s, Targoviste, southern Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

I like the wood fretwork on the edge of the roof eave, so typical of the late Victorian period houses. Two pigeon holes flank a larger central door used for keeper’s access, through which is cut a third pigeon hole.

This is an excellent piece of domestic architecture, still quite well preserved and relatively straight forward to restore. It shows the sophistication of the Romanians of more than one century ago, who were most certainly more elevated and finer in their architectural tastes than their nowadays post-communist counterparts.

Neo-Romanian style chimney stacks in Targoviste

The Neo-Romanian architectural style is an all encompassing architectural order, which was meant to reflect the way of life, history, traditions and art of the ethnic Romanian communities. Among its more peculiar manifestations is the design of chimney stacks, about which I wrote on this blog another article last year. The ones illustrated here are from the city of Targoviste, the erstwhile capital of the principality of Wallachia, about 80 km north-west on Bucharest, in the foothills of the Transylvanian Alps. They model the medieval fortress towers of which Targoviste is famous through a large citadel keep built about five and a half centuries ago by Vlad the Impaler.  The fortress tower motif is also used in the design of Neo-Romanian street fence poles, also epitomising the war torn history of these lands located on the fault-line between Islam and Christianity.

Neo-Romanian style chimney stacks, mid-1920s house in Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Neo-Romanian style chimney stacks, mid-1920s house in Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Neo-Romanian style chimney stacks, early 1920s house in Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Neo-Romanian style chimney stacks, late 1920s house in Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Neo-Romanian wooden jardiniers

Bellow are presented two Neo-Romanian style wooden jardiniers, which I photographed during last month’s architectural history and photography tour in Targoviste. They adorn the exterior walls of a large and beautiful house from that that city, which I wrote about it in an article last year. I like the simple, clean design of these useful and very decorative artefacts, which manages to encompass allusions to ethnographic motifs (i.e. the small wooden “x”-es alluding to wood carvings decorating peasant houses). The delicate arched consoles supporting the jardiniers represent also an echo from those inspiring sources, similar with the design of Neo-Romanian style doorway awnings such as seen in the example which I detailed in an earlier article at this link.

Neo-Romanian wooden jardiniere, 1920s house, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Neo-Romanian wooden jardiniere, 1920s house, Targoviste (©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.

Wallachian Art Nouveau

The city of Targoviste, 80 km north-west of Bucharest and a former capital of the old principality of Wallachia, has managed to preserve an important proportion of its architectural heritage during the last seven decades of communist misrule and post-communist wild transition to a market economy in Romania. It has also weathered quite well the calamitous property boom of 2000 -’08, which saw destruction of historic public and private buildings on a larger scale than throughout the entire communist period. One of those interesting historic architecture examples preserved in Targoviste is the house presented in the photographs bellow, displaying Neo-Romanian elements in an Art Nouveau guise. It dates probably from the 1900s and shows signs of extensive subsequent alterations. The edifice is located at one end of city’s old commercial street, near the beautiful Beaux Arts style Targoviste town hall, about which I wrote an article at this link. The Neo-Romanian style has evolved in large part, during its initial stages, within the Art Nouveau current and this building is an interesting product of that period. I apologise for the differences in shade and colour intensity between photographs, due to the various hours and light conditions in which they were shot and subsequently processed.

Wallachian Art Nouveau, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

I like the Romanian ethnographic motifs giving personality to this house such as the wood carved poles embellishing the oriel balcony or the frieze modelling a peasant embroidery that decorates its street façade.

Targoviste Art Nouveau house displaying Neo-Romanian motifs, house dating from the 1900s (©Valentin Mandache)

The main widow is also a Neo-Romanian type, making references to a church triptych, rendered in an Art Nouveau manner. The geometrical pattern of the wall frieze, easily discernible in this photograph, is inspired from peasant embroideries found in this area of Wallachia.

Neo-Romanian triptych type window in an Art Nouveau guise, 1900s house, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Wallachian Art Nouveau, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

The above image shows the oriel balcony adorned with wooden poles carved in a similar manner with those encountered in Wallachian peasant houses.

Wallachian Art Nouveau, detail of the oriel balcony, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

The main Art Nouveau trait in the design of the balcony is the circle arch, spanning the wooden poles, a reference to the Islamic inspired medieval and early modern architecture of the Ottoman Balkans, a region that also encompassed the former principality of Wallachia.

Wallachian Art Nouveau, the carved wooden poles of the oriel balcony, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Wallachian Art Nouveau, side entrance and widows, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Other Art Nouveau elements, which are not related to Neo-Romanians motifs, are the two simple doorways embellishing the side of the house, the more remarkable of them looking inspired from the design of a Rennie Mackintosh Argyle chair.

Wallachian Art Nouveau, side doorway (Argyle chair motif), house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Wallachian Art Nouveau,side doorway, house dating from the 1900s, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

There is another similar design building in Targoviste, about 0.5km away toward the old princely courts, presumably the work of the same architect(s), about whom I hope to find out details in my future fieldtrips to this wonderful southern Romanian city.

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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.

Neo-Romanian style decorative panels

A conspicuous feature of the Neo-Romanian architectural style is represented by the elaborate decorative panels that emphasize areas of the façade or stairway. They contain a wealth of designs centred on a number of motifs inspired from the late medieval Wallachian church decorative panoply such as that of peacocks in the Garden of Eden, protector eagle or lions guarding the gates of Paradise. There are also instances of decorative panels containing non-religious abstract motifs in a variety of designs. Bellow are a few examples from the wealth of such attractive architectural artefacts embellishing Neo-Romanian style houses in Bucharest and Targoviste in southern Romania.

Neo-Romanian style decorative panel, late 1920s house, Dorobanti area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The panel above is a representation of the protector eagle, guarding the Garden of Eden, engaged in a  manichean battle with a serpent, the embodiment of evil. The Garden of Eden is envisaged as a luxuriant grape vine full of fruit, with its vines contorted around the eagle in the shape of a Greek cross, an allusion that the supreme deity watches that never ending fight.

Neo-Romanian style decorative panel, early 1930s house, Dacia Boulevard area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The panel from the second photograph is rendered in a more schematic, crisp manner, an indication of the Art Deco influence over the Neo-Romanian style that started to manifest in the early 1930s.

Neo-Romanian style decorative panel, late 1920s house, Targoviste, southern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

The image above shows an imaginative decorative use of a loft air vent, rendered in the shape of an abstract Greek cross, covered by a rectangular ironwork pattern containing smaller crosses of that type.

Neo-Romanian style decorative panel, mid-1930s house, Targoviste, southern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

This forth decorative panel contains a floral motif that does not have immediate religious references, rendered in an Art Deco manner, a result of the high influence of that style on the Romanian architectural scene in the 1930s.

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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.

“Mahala” type house

"Mahala" type house, end c19th, Targoviste, southeren Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

The Romanian word “mahala” comes from the Turkish “mahalle”, which means “city district”. The connotations are however quite different, in Romanian the word designating the city slums, the poorest and worst areas of an urban settlement. Many mahala houses display interesting transition features between peasant/ rural and urban architecture. The image above shows a late c19th mahala house from the city of Targoviste in southern Romania. It is quite well preserved and gives an idea how the city slums would have looked like in this region of Europe more than a century ago. This type of building is quite rare now, their number diminishing year by year. In my opinion they have an architectural and social history value and some of them deserve to be preserved as interesting witnesses of this region’s urban evolution.

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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.

Neo-Romanian style truck garage

New-Romanian style truck garage dating from mid-1930s, Targoviste, southern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

This is a quite rare example of Neo-Romanian style industrial architecture, which I found in the city of Targoviste in the south of the country. A few months ago I documented another very interesting and also rare Neo-Romanian style garage in Bucharest that probably functioned as a fire station, hosting fire engines, in the inter-war period: click here to access that post. In this instance the building is less ornate, of a functional design, where the Neo-Romanian style elements consist in the pediment ornament present above each doorway, mimicking the crenelation of medieval fortresses and the imposing side tower containing the offices, modelled after the fortified houses from the Oltenia region named cula, an important diagnostic aspect for the Neo-Romania architectural style. I like the fact that the garage is still functional and quite well preserved despite the many economic vicissitudes that had to endure over the communist and post-communist decades.

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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.

The 1900s doorway of a Targoviste city house

A well maintained picturesqye example of a doorway dating from the 1900s that embellishes a Little Paris style house (c19th French historicist styles provincially interpreted in Romania) in the city of Targoviste, southern Romania. (Valentin Mandache)

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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.

Targoviste Town Hall: Beaux Arts Architecture

 

Targoviste town hall photomontage (©Valentin Mandache)

 

The city of Targoviste in southern Romania, the former medieval capital of the Principality of Walachia, is endowed with a pair of impressive Beaux Arts style public buildings dating from the La Belle Époque, namely the Town Hall (“Primaria” in Romanian) and the former local prefecture headquarters, now hosting the Dambovita County Arts Museum. The style, promoted beginning with the last decades of the c19th through the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, was hugely influential in Europe, North America and beyond, being suitable especially for grand public edifices and mansions. Both Targoviste constructions were the work of the architect (some sources designate him as a builder) Giovanni Baldassare Vignossa (I found in different sources about a half dozen spelling versions for his name and settled for this one) and the decorator Giovanni Battista del Basso. They were part of the “second wave” of Italian builders, architects and artists active in the country, who have contributed in an important measure to the fabric of the built environment of what is now Romania. The “first wave” of Italians (Venetians especially) was active at the end of c17th – start of c18th, during the reign of Prince Constantin Brancoveanu, contributing to the emergence of the Brancovenesc style, a main source of inspiration for the modern Neo-Romanian architectural style. A “third wave” unfurled during the inter-war period when Italian building companies and architectural bureaus greatly contributed to the construction of the Art Deco architectural landscape in Bucharest and the rest of Romania. The “fourth wave” has started in the last decade, once the property and construction boom got underway in Romania, with the Italian construction entrepreneurs being some of most active in that area of activity. The photomontage above and the slide show bellow the text present details from different angles of the Targoviste town hall (1897). I like the balanced proportions of the building and its air of conviviality, very suitable for its role in the community. A most intriguing element among de rich decorative panoply of the building is the theme of the weathervane (a rarely used architectural element in Romania) on top of the tower, a whale with a crown on its head, which makes a sharp captivating contrast with the environment of this city located at the feet of the Transylvanian Alps, far away from the sea.

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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.

Fin de Siècle house in Targoviste

A beautiful Fin de Siècle house in Targoviste, southern Romania photographed in a late July 2010 afternoon against a stormy sky. (©Valentin Mandache)

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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.

Clamshell Doorway Awning (Little Paris style)

Little Paris style doorway dating from the 1900s decade, Targoviste, southern Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

The elaborate and exquisite glass and wrought iron clamshell shape awning for doorways is a hallmark element of the Little Paris architecture of Romania that flourished in this country in the last quarter of the c19th. That type of awning is inspired from models used in c19th French historicist and Art Nouveau architecture, one of the most famous examples being the awning of the entrance into the Porte Dauphine metro station in Paris. The delicious clamshell awning with well preserved wrought iron garlands, presented in the photograph above, is from Targoviste, a city in southern Romania that still preserves many beautiful buildings from the Fin de Siècle period.

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

Mixed Style Houses: Little Paris & Neo-Romanian

Mixed Little Paris and Neo-Romanian architectural style houses, dating form the 1890s & 1900s, Targoviste, southern Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

The city of Targoviste in southern Romania contains an excellent selection of period architecture houses, reflecting the styles and architectural evolution of Romania’s provincial towns in the last century and a half. Some of the most interesting examples are those displaying mixed styles, such as the buildings presented in the photomontage above and the slide show bellow the text, exhibiting a delightful synthesis between the Little Paris and the Neo-Romanian architectural designs. That picturesque architecture has been created by the local skilled builders and craftsmen, who transposed in vernacular the prestigious and fashionable styles of their time. The usual occupants of this type of dwelling, which in the high density and land scarce area of Bucharest are known as “wagon houses“, were the families of the the small merchants and state employees (policemen, clerks, teachers, etc.) that constituted the emerging provincial middle classes of Fin de Siècle Romania.

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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.

Charming Neo-Romanian Style House

Neo-Romanian style house dating from the early 1930s, in Targoviste, southern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

This is a charming Neo-Romanian style house of well balanced proportions and gracious ornamental designs, from the town of Targoviste in southern Romania. I like the two air vents located on the wall frieze that have the shape of stylized Greek crosses. The chimney stack, the two arched windows endowed with ornate aprons, or the roof finial and crest are other prominent and finely constructed Neo-Romanian style elements.

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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.

Old Ottoman Glazed Verandas

Old houses built by small merchants, with glazed verandas, dating from the late c19th. Targoviste, southern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

A common feature of the Balkan Ottoman town houses built between the c18th and c19th are the large airy verandas spanning the entire street façade length. Once the glass technology has became cheaper in the late c18th, affording the production of larger glass pane quantities, these verandas started to be glazed over. That was a very effective means to increase the comfort of the occupants and also their privacy, an important element of family life throughout the Ottoman realm for all communities, Muslim, Christian or Jewish. The glazed veranda house thus became one of the most conspicuous type of Balkan Ottoman provincial town building. It was also often encountered in the Romanian provinces of Wallachia and Moldova that were for centuries under Ottoman rule. Today the glazed veranda houses are a rarity in Romania, after being replaced, over the last century and a half, on a massive scale by newer and more fashionable architectures ranging from French historicist styles to Neo-Romanian and Art Deco, which were also perceived as more prestigious vis-à-vis the old Ottoman heritage. I managed to find in Targoviste, a provincial town 80km north-west of Bucharest, some eloquent examples of glazed veranda houses dating from that era, presented in the photomontage above. They were built in the late c19th by local small merchants and the main reason why they are still around nowadays is probably because the actual occupants are too poor to afford ‘improvements’ like plastic frame double glazing or new concrete walls. These houses used to have, in the old days, impressive wooden shingle roofs, before the metal sheet covers became affordable in the early c20th. I was thus quite pleased to discover in this example a small patch of the old shingle roof, visible trough a small damaged area of the metal sheet cover (see the photomontage upper image, where the shingle roof fragment is discernible just to the right from the satellite dish). Such a house with glazed veranda and shingle roof, on a mostly a wooden structure, could constitute cheap and straight forward potential restoration/ renovation project for anyone willing to tackle such an enterprise, which would greatly contribute to the revitalisation of the old architectural heritage of the once charming Romanian provincial towns. Sadly most of the locals continue to see such structures as decrepit and replace them as soon as they get hold of a minimum of funds for ‘improvements’; in that regard the actual economic crisis is quite a godsend insuring the survival of these interesting historic houses.

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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.

1900s Corner Shop in Provincial Romania

1900s corner shop house, today functioning as a dwelling, Targoviste, southern Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

The above image shows a quaint and relatively well preserved former corner-shop building, which also doubled as a local pub, dating from the turn between the c19th and the c20th, in Targoviste, southern Romania. It is a structure once ubiquitous in provincial towns, villages or the outlying quarters of Bucharest, but a rarity nowadays. The building represents an excellent historic commercial architecture witness for this area of Europe and would constitute a cheap and easy potential restoration – renovation project for anyone willing to undertake such an endeavour. I like in this particular example how the original window shutters are secured with impressive transversal iron bars, exactly as in the old days. I do wonder if the interior of the house still preserves something from the old shop layout or furniture.

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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.