Transparent staircase windows

One the most conspicuous features of Bucharest’s Art Deco style edifices is the staircase tower. It is often embellished with ample windows unfurling along the length of the tower, which is sometimes also decorated with portholes and flag poles, symbolising the ocean liner and the idea of voyages to the southern seas, a the recurrent and much loved architectural theme by the 1930s Bucharest people. In most cases the staircase windows are densely decorated, glazed with opaque or coloured panes, not allowing any meaningful glimpse inside the tower, to see the design of the stair spiral. Bellow are a couple of the relatively rare transparent staircase windows, which I photographed in the Dacia and Calea Mosilor area of Bucharest. The glass transparency enhances the impression of lightness and slenderness of the overall Art Deco design and allows a glance inside these interesting buildings. It is however quite possible that their initial glazing was non-transparent and later replaced with what we see today, as a result of damages that might have occurred during the strong earthquakes, wars or revolutions, which have plagued the city in the last eight decades.

Art Deco transparent staircase window, apartment block dating from the late 1930s, Dacia area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Art Deco transparent staircase window, apartment block dating from the mid-1930s, Calea Mosilor 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.

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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.

Images from last week’s architectural tours: “Art Nouveau Bucharest” & “The built heritage of Piata Victoriei area”

Historic Houses of Romania thematic architectural tour on Saturday, 26 Nov. '11: "Art Nouveau Bucharest" (©Valentin Mandache)
Historic Houses of Romania architectural tour on Sunday, 26 Nov. '11: "Piata Victoriei area"(©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.

Buzau maces

The roof finials are some of the most conspicuous elements of the Neo-Romanian style, a sort of apotheosis of what that architecture represents. They come in many shapes expressing a multitude of national-identity symbols. There are thus finials symbolising peasant ethnography and way of life (ethnographic totemic poles, abstract haystacks), abstractions of fortress towers, religious symbols or medieval weapons. Bellow are two eloquent mace shaped finial examples, which I found in the town of Buzau in south eastern Romania. The mace, a fearsome medieval weapon, is seen as a national-romantic symbol of the armed resistance of the Romanian principalities, as Christian states, against the invasions and menacing power of the Ottoman Islamic califate, one of the main messages of the Neo-Romanian architectural style during its early and mature phases. The first image shows a mace finial crowning the stairs tower of an early 1920s house, while the second embellishes the roof of the Commune Palace, which hosts the town hall of Buzau, a magnificent public early Neo-Romanian style building designed in 1899 by the architect Alexandru Savulescu.

Neo-Romanian style roof finial in the shape of a mace, mid-1920s house, Buzau (©Valentin Mandache)
Neo-Romanian style roof finial in the shape of a mace, the Commune Palalce (town hall), Buzau (©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 Contact page of this weblog.

Modernist Serliana window

Definition: a Serliana window is a “window with three openings, the central one arched and wider than the others: so called because it was first illustrated in Serlio‘s Architecture (1537)” [from The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture & Landscape Architecture, Penguin Books, 1999]. It is also known as a Palladian or Venetian window.

The Serliana structure is a quite a common occurrence in Renaissance, Baroque or Rococo inspired architectural settings. I have therefore been pleasantly surprised to discover in Bucharest a Serliana-like window, with a suggested arch, within a modernist setting, presented in the photographs bellow:

Modernist Serliana window, late 1930s house, Dorobanti quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The design is reduced to essence, even the pillars dividing the openings displaying just outlines of Renaissance columns.

Modernist Serliana window, late 1930s house, Dorobanti quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The building dates just before the Second World War, located in the Dorobanti area, also known as the “embassy quarter” of Romania’s capital.

Modernist Serliana window, late 1930s house, Dorobanti quarter, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The architecture is an inter-war Modernist interpretation of Renaissance Italianate models, seen in the veranda column capital or its beamed ceiling, the Serliana window of course, and the wooden corbels supporting the protruding structure (Oriel type) containing the Serliana.

Modernist Serliana window, late 1930s house, Dorobanti quarter, 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 Contact page of this weblog.

Decorative tiles and stone from the Art Deco Era

I photographed, during my last architectural tour in  Gara de Nord area, a few interesting examples of decorative ceramic tiles and stone embellishing exterior and interior areas of Art Deco style buildings from the 1930s. Those elements are quite rare sights nowadays, as the usually aggressive renovations and damages sustained through wars or earthquakes in the intervening eight decades have erased them in great proportion from the architectural landscape of the city.

Decorative tiles from the Art Deco era, apartment block from Gara de Nord area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Above is a wall base decorated with high quality black and white bands of ceramic tiles, which I documented in an earlier post, speculating that it represents an architectural metaphor of the tuxedo suit and spectaor/ wingtip shoes so popular in the jazz age.

Decorative stone from the Art Deco era, apartment block from Gara de Nord area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The image above and the three following bellow are from the entrance hall of a mid-1930s apartment block, where the designer used good quality decorative stone, from marble to various colours and textures of calcareous rock such as lime and travertine, combining them with great visual effect.

Decorative stone from the Art Deco era, apartment block from Gara de Nord area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Decorative stone from the Art Deco era, apartment block from Gara de Nord area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Decorative stone from the Art Deco era, entrance hall pavement of an apartment block from Gara de Nord area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Decorative tiles from the Art Deco era, apartment block from Gara de Nord area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The above and bellow photographs present the ceramic tile floor of a modest apartment block from the early 1930s. The tiles are of very good quality, being in excellent shape after so many years of intensive wear; of hexagonal shape, arranged in a plain three colour floral “mosaic” pattern, which reminds quite poignantly the atmosphere of the inter-war period.

Decorative tiles from the Art Deco era, apartment block from Gara de Nord 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 Contact page of this weblog.

Protected: Tour for Polish Institute: BUCHAREST AS THE LITTLE PARIS OF THE BALKANS

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Bucharest’s history man

The interview in today’s issue of  “Adevarul”, one of the main Romanian daily newspapers, with the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog, about his architectural tours throughout the city (click the link or the photograph to access the article [in Romanian]): Omul care-ţi explică istoria Bucureştiului.

Omul care-ţi explică istoria Bucureştiului

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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.

Neo-Romanian façade

Neo-Romanian style facade, house dating from the mid-1920s, Mosilor area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

This it how an “ordinary” Neo-Romanian style house façade looks. The four storey building dates from the mid 1920s and belongs to the mature stage of development of this style, which took place between 1906, the year of the Great Royal National Exhibition, when the Neo-Romanian order was made known to the wider public, thenceforth becoming fashionable among the mass of the citizens, and the late 1920s, when the style reached a crisis of expression under the “assault” of modern forms, ideas and technologies brought about by the increasingly popular, in Bucharest and Romania, Art Deco and Modernist styles. This particular façade displays a multitude of archetypal Neo-Romanian elements such as references to the Christian trinity in the number of window sectors (envisaged as triptychs), the number of three-lobed veranda arcades, etc., short columns decorated with the rope motif, arched window pediments, or an allusion to the cula tower (the c17th-c18th fortified yeoman houses of Oltenia region in the frontier south western region of the country) seen in the massive protruding multi storey Oriel window-veranda structure.

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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.

Neo-Romanian triptic windows

Neo-Romanian style windows, house dating from the 1910s, Dacia area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Above is a good example of Neo-Romanian style triptych motif set of windows from the mature phase of development of Romania’s national style, which took place between 1906 (the year of the Great Royal National Exhibition when the style was made known to the larger public) and the late 1920s (when the Neo-Romanian style reached a crisis of expression generated among others by the increased popularity of the international Art Deco and Modernist architecture). I like the broken arch embellishing the central window, an echo of the late medieval Brancovan church architecture, which in its turn is inspired from the Islamic Ottoman architecture of the Balkans of that era. The pediment is decorated with vine leaves and grapes springing up from two plant pots, symbolising abundance in paradise, a metaphor for the prosperity and peace of the family inhabiting that house.

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

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.

The blog author in Balcic on the Black Sea coast

Balcic - Queen Marie of Romania's Palace gardens on Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast

Historic Houses of Romania blog author enjoying, in the summer of 2009, the magnificent gardens of Queen Marie of Romania’s Palace in Balcic, Bulgaria, on the Black Sea coast. The palace complex and gardens are one of the finest and most representative pieces of architecture produced in inter-war Romania. Balcic and the southerly facing coast around it is a place reminding more of the Mediterranean than the Balkans and Central Europe that in general characterise Romania’s geographic and man-made landscape, which made it a sort of local Riviera for the Romanian elite in those happy days before the conflagration of the Second World War and what followed after. The place is teeming with Romanian villa architecture of the golden 1930s decade, which will constitute, together with the Palace, the subject of two Historic Houses of Romania tours in the late spring and early autumn in 2012. Watch this space!:)

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

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.