Walking tour: Art Deco and Modernist Bucharest – Saturday 12 December

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you this Saturday 12 December 2015, to a thematic walking tour, scheduled to take place between 11.00h – 13.00h, on the subject of the Art Deco and inter-war Modernist buildings of Bucharest. The tour may be of interest to any of you visiting the city as a tourist or on business, looking to find out more about its fascinating historic architecture and identity.

The Art Deco style, which emerged during the “roaring ’20s” and became a global phenomenon in the 1930s was the first truly international architecture, embraced with gusto by the Bucharest people and the rest of urban Romania. The city became in those years a veritable Art Deco architectural regional “power“, embellished with high quality edifices in this style, many of which are still around, for us to admire and examine, despite the terrible historical upheavals of the last eight decades in this part of Europe. A favorite Art Deco theme in Bucharest was that of the ocean liner, reflecting the longing of the inter-war locals to travel to exotic places in the southern seas, far away from the local harsh, continental winters. The inter-war Modernist style and syntheses with Art Deco are also well represented in Bucharest, with creations signed by talented architects such as Horia Creanga, Duiliu Marcu or Ion si Tiberiu Niga. That great multitude of buildings were developed on a solid economic background when Romania was one of the main oil exporters of the world and also an important agricultural producer. The present tour endeavours to locate and explain some of the representative edifices in the Art Deco and Modernist styles in central Bucharest and give you a well referenced overall image about how these designs imprinted the character of this town and Romania in general.

Book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of meeting place on booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache/ Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca (tel: 0040 (0)728323272)

Art Deco Bucharest – architectural tour

Historic Houses of Romania architectural tour: Art Deco 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.

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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.

! New walking tour ! – The central part of Cotroceni quarter – Sunday 6 December

Walking tour in Cotroceni - central partDear readers,

I would like to propose you a new tour in Cotroceni quarter, in its central part, encompassing the area between St Elefterie Str. and Dr. Lister Str. You are probably already familiar with another Historic Houses of Romania architecture walk in Cotroceni, which takes place mostly in its older, eastern part. This periple is the second from the series of tours dedicated to this picturesque quarter of Bucharest.

The tour is scheduled to take place this Sunday 6 December 2015, between 11.00h – 13.00h. This cultural excursion could be of interest to any of you visiting Romania’s capital as a tourist or on business, looking to understand the character of this metropolis through discovering its peculiar and fascinating old architecture.

The focus points of the central part of Cotroceni are its two parish churches, the Old St Elefterie, an edifice containing 18th c. Brancovan style architecture vestiges, serving now the deaf community, which sits on a former island in the marshes around the Dambovita river, before the quarter started to be developed in the second half of the 19th century, giving us an idea about the local environmental history, and the grand New St Elefterie church, designed by arch. Constantin Iotzu in the 1930s, in the Neoromanian style, its Byzantine persuasion variety, in a period of Romanian national triumphalism. The residential buildings date mostly from the interwar period, boasting some of the highest quality historic architecture of Romania’s capital, in styles ranging from Neoromanian, its mature and late phases, Art Deco, Modernism, and also Mediterranean, or interesting combinations between those designs. These houses were built by the professional classes of a then prosperous Romania, especially medical doctors, who have their alma mater, Bucharest Medical University, the largest and most prestigious such school in southeast Europe, close by, on the western side of Cotroceni. The houses are provided with gardens, often enclosed by fine ironwork fences and gates, and trees line up the streets, which make the area a pleasant place to live, create or visit. All of that highly enticing built heritage and the social history behind it, is waiting for you to discover as part of this Historic Houses of Romania cultural walk.

Book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of meeting place on booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache/ Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca (tel: 0040 (0)728323272)

Cotroceni - Central - tour (2)

Historic Houses of Romania walking tour in the central area of Cotroceni quarter

Historic Houses of Romania - Case de Epoca walking tour in the central area of Cotroceni quarter

Historic Houses of Romania walking tour in the central area of Cotroceni quarter

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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.

! New tour ! – Plantelor area: a sample of quaint old Bucharest

Plantelor Street SignDear readers,

I would like to invite you to another tour from the new series of Bucharest architectural walks that I am preparing, this one centered on the area around the picturesque Plantelor Street, sitting just east of Mantuleasa. It has an alluring residential character, with well presented historic buildings of architectural value, many surrounded by efflorescent gardens. Plantelor area is a sample of how pleasant and stimulative for artistic creativity this town has been in the La Belle Époque and the interwar periods.

The tour is scheduled to take place this Saturday 5 December 2015, between 11.00h – 13.00h. This cultural excursion could be of interest to any of you visiting Romania’s capital as a tourist or on business, looking to understand the character of this metropolis through discovering its peculiar and fascinating old architecture.

The name “Plantelor” (Engl. for Plants’) given to this iconic street, is an echo of the La Belle Époque times, when Bucharest’s houses of its famous Little Paris and also Art Nouveau architecture were provided with gardens and orchards, and the windows were sporting jardinieres full of multicoloured flowers. The local environment was considered healthier than the rest of the town, which made possible the establishment of a sanatorium, where the national poet of Romania, Mihai Eminescu, spent his last days, in the summer of 1889. That verdurous character is still very much around, also imprinting the personality of the Neoromanian, and Art Deco and Modernist dwellings erected mainly in the interwar period, being a hallmark of the whole area. Here we will find palpable architectural records of a most authentic Bucharest, in its domestic incarnation, giving us an idea of how the town would have looked like if the upheavals and destructions of the communist and post-communist periods would have left it unscathed. A series of houses have on their facade name tablets of the architects and builders that created them. There is a pleiad of names, such as Baruch Zilberman, Marcel Locar or Ion Davidescu to cite just a few, giving us an opportunity to discuss about their architectural talent and skill. The streets are straight and aligned with threes, the height of the houses are mostly on the human scale, making the tour an enjoyable experience. All of this enchanting architecture concentrated in Plantelor area is waiting for you discover as part of this cultural walk.

Book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of meeting place on booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache/ Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca (tel: 0040 (0)728323272)

Historic Houses or Romania architecture walking tour in Platelor area, Bucharst

Historic Houses or Romania architecture walking tour in Platelor area, Bucharest

Historic Houses of Romania walking tour in Plantelor area of Bucharest

Historic Houses of Romania walking tour in Plantelor area of 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 advise 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.

Architectural tour in Bellu Cemetery – the national pantheon of Romania, Saturday 21 November

Dear readers,

I am organising a thematic two hours walking tour (between 11.00h – 13.00h) this Saturday 21 November 2015, on the less conventional subject of afterlife or funerary architecture found within the confines of Bellu Cemetery, the most famous and exquisitely embellished necropolis of Romania, the equivalent in these parts of Europe of Paris’ Père Lachaise or London’s Highgate cemetery. It may be of interest to any of you visiting the city as a tourist or on business looking to find out more about its fascinating historic architecture and identity.

Bellu Cemetery is considered the National Pantheon of this country, containing the graves and remarkable funerary monuments of important personalities that built the modern Romanian nation, people such as Mihai Eminescu, the national poet, Ion Mincu, the initiator of the Neo-Romanian architectural style or general Christian Tell, one of the heroes of 1848 Revolution. It was opened in 1858 as a public burial ground, part of the city’s advanced urban planning developments of the Victorian era, occasioned by a fast increase in population, when traditional cemeteries around urban churches became overcrowded and a health hazard, as was the case with other European capitals of that era. Many of Bellu’s funerary monuments are outstanding architectural tributes that the great, the good and the wealthy dedicated to their dead ones. These structures trace closely the changing architectural ideas and fashions of their time, representing a veritable condensed encyclopaedia of design styles. Their decorative details are often superlative and contain a wealth of symbols ranging from sacred, ethnographic to profane. The cemetery is part of the Associantion of Significant Cemeteries in Europe as a recognition of its heritage value. This place so much laden with history and architectural show-pieces is now among the tours organised by the Historic Houses of Romania blog author!

Book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of meeting place on booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses (tel: 0040 (0)728323272)

Historic Houses of Romania: architectural tour in Bellu Cemetery

Historic Houses of Romania: architectural tour in Bellu Cemetery (map source: Bing Maps)

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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.

Walking tour in Mosilor quarter of Bucharest – Sunday 15 November

Dear readers,

This is an invitation to an architectural walking tour in Mosilor area of Bucharest, open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog, Sunday 15 November 2015, for two hours, between 11.00h – 13.00h.

I will be your guide through one of the most picturesque areas of historic Bucharest, that has known a spectacular development after the unification of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia in the aftermath of the Crimean War. It is located on the road stemming from the old city toward Moldavia, known in the olden times as “The Highway” (“Drumul Mare”). Its name comes from that of the famous Mosilor fair, held outside Bucharest’s walls, where traders and peasants from Moldavia and north-eastern Wallachia came with their goods and products. Among of the most active and successful traders were the Armenians, who had strong communities in Moldavia and many settled in the Mosilor area, where they erected the largest Armenian church in south-east Europe. The architecture thus very much reflects an effervescent commercial past, with interesting examples of trader houses built in a multitude of vernacular and elevated styles ranging from Little Paris, Neo-Romanian to Art Deco and Modernist. There is also a rare examples of Ottoman Balkan era dwelling, Casa Melik, dating from the c18th. Mosilor is thus a most representative sample of what Bucharest has been throughout most of its history, a trade centre for the Romanian lands. Its attractive and very evocative period architecture is waiting to for you to discover and photograph!

Book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of meeting place on booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses (tel: 0040 (0)728323272)

Bucharest’s Mosilor area historic architecture (©Valentin Mandache)

Historic Houses of Romania architectural walking tour in Mosilor area, 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.

Architectural tour in Dacia – Eminescu – Polona historic area – Saturday 14 November

Dear readers

This is an invitation to an architectural history walking tour in the area centred on Dacia – Eminescu and Polona streets of Bucharest, endowed with some of the best quality historic architecture of Romania’s capital, open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog on Saturday 14 November 2015, between 11.00h – 13.00h.

I will be your guide in this distinguished Bucharest quarter, packed with impressive building designs, especially Neo-Romanian, belonging to its mature (such as the image on the left) and late flamboyant phases, along with Art Deco and Modernist designs. Dacia also encompasses Little Paris and a multitude of mixed style buildings of a powerful personality. The architects of many of these structures were from among the golden inter-war generation of such highly regarded professionals of Romania, among them Jean Monda or Jean Burcus. The zone is in large part residential, with a number of embassies and consulates in its midst, and also because of the good state of its period edifices and agreeable urban planning dating from the first decades of the c20th, is also considered one of the prestigious districts of Bucharest. All of that delightful landmark architecture is waiting for you to be discovered and examined!

Book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of meeting place on booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses (tel: 0040 (0)728323272)

Historic Houses of Romania architectural tour in Dacia area, Bucharest

Historic Houses of Romania architectural tour in Dacia area, 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 Contact page of this weblog.

Architectural walking tour in TARGOVISTE – Saturday 13 June

Dear readers,

This is an invitation to an architectural history tour in Targoviste, renowned as the former capital of the former Principality of Wallachia and one of the seats of Vlad the Impaler, among many other fearsome medieval Wallachian rulers of the Medieval era, located north-west of Bucharest, 80km away, in the foothills of the Transylvanian Alps. The tour is open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog on Saturday 13 June 2015!

I will be your expert guide in this excellently endowed in old architecture town. Targoviste contains a superb selection of period houses and public buildings, reflecting the styles and architectural evolution of Romania’s provincial towns since late Middle Ages. The locals are proud of the city’s heritage and legacy as a former princedom capital, somehow as Winchester is seen in England, if I may draw that parallel, with ample medieval ruins poignantly reminding its glorious past. The meaning of “Targoviste” in old Romanian language is that of  ”market town”, a true reflection of its medieval and early modern economy, until the advent of the oil industry in the inter-war period that changed its character.  All of that splendid architecture located in the Arcadia like setting of this city is waiting for you to be discovered and photographed! :)

You can read my blog articles detailing aspects of Targoviste’s wonderful historic architecture at this link: https://historo.wordpress.com/tag/targoviste/

Targoviste can be reached from Bucharest by car, train and bus. The tour will take about four hours, starting at 11.30am, with stops at the Princely Court open air museum and Arts museum (entrance ticket to each of this places has to be purchased there), and also for coffee and tea at one of the cafes on the old high street. The train schedule from Bucharest’s Gara de Nord can be accessed here: http://www.mersultrenurilor.ro, while the bus one here: http://www.autogari.ro.

Book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of meeting place on booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache, expert in Romania’s historic houses (tel: 0040 (0)728323272)

Architectural walking tour in Targoviste – Historic Houses of Romania –

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Historic Houses of Romania - architectural tour in Targoviste

Historic Houses of Romania – architectural tour in Targoviste

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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.

Video-invitation to Historic Houses of Romania Drinks

Video-invitation to Historic Houses of Romania Drinks event on Tuesday, 9 June 2015, 19.00h-22.00h, at Freddo bar in Lipscani.

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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.

Invitation: Historic Houses of Romania drinks, 7 April, at Freddo Lipscani

Historic Houses of Romania - Case de Epoca drinks

Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca drinks

Dear readers,

I think that it would be a good idea to organise a get together for those of you who follow my blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter pages, or participate at the architectural tours, in order to foster even more a sense of community, and continue discussing on old houses, their architecture, history and economic potential and uses in an informal and friendly atmosphere.
That is why I am proposing such a first gathering, to take place next Tuesday, 7 April, after work, between 18.30h – 21.00h or so, at Freddo bar in Lipscani quarter of Bucharest. They have a standing up bar area at the centre of the venue hall, where you can see me when entering the place, and we can talk and exchange ideas.
If you fancy such an informal event, please do not hesitate to come. It is free to get together, although each of us has to pay for her/ his own drinks :)
I look forward to meeting you at Freddo! Details for location at: http://freddo.ro/contact/

Valentin, Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca

Update for “April Fools’ Day”: Bucharest’s government has just restored one of the town’s architectural landmarks

Note: The first paragraph and image is an April Fools’ Day joke, showing one of the landmark buildings of Bucharest in a happier time, in the early 1970s, while the reality is detailed in the second paragraph and image, plus video.

Amazing! Bucharest’s government of whom everyone says is corrupt, ignorant and actively destroying the town’s heritage, has just restored one of the landmarks of Romania’s capital: the early Neoromanian style rendered in Art Nouveau fashion Boteanu building, a design by arch. Petre Antonescu in the 1900s!

Boteanu building, by arch. Petre Antonescu, 1900s, in early phase Neoromanian style rendered in Art Nouveau fashion.

Boteanu building, by arch. Petre Antonescu, 1900s, in early phase Neoromanian style rendered in Art Nouveau fashion.

This is how the building is looking nowadays, compared with its former self, above, in the happier times of the 1970s decade, photographed by a rare American tourist, who visited during the communist thaw period in international relations, before Nicolae Ceausescu consolidated his totalitarian dictatorship. What we see today is the result of the neglect and active destruction that characterise the generations produced by Ceausescu’s rule and Ion Iliescu – Adrian Nastase post-communist corruption. Sadly the Royal House also plays in this dynamic, by giving medals to personages such as mayor Oprescu, who oversees the destruction of the architectural heritage, and its socialisation with corrupt politicians. There are high expectations after the November 2014 presidential elections, which would hopefully later reflect itself in a better appreciation and preservation of the architectural heritage by the general public.

Casa Boteanu, how it looks in today

Casa Boteanu, how it looks in today

A happy new year for 2015!

2015

Phoenix bird raising from burning flames, adorning the facade of a late phase Neoromanian style house, dating from the late 1930s in Kiseleff area of Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavour through this series of periodic articles to inspire appreciation of Romania’s historic houses and its region in South East Europe, 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 advise you with specialist research, sourcing and marketing the property. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Building inauguration years rendered architecturally

Building inauguration year in architectural renderings

Building inauguration year in architectural renderings (©Valentin Mandache, Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca)

The photo-collage above is composed by building inauguration year panels rendered architecturally, encountered by the author of this blog on edifices dating from a multitude of historical epochs in Bucharest and other locations in Romania. I used the illustrations as cover photographs for the Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca’s Facebook page. I usually present to the readers a cover photo per week, and the ones here are those scheduled for the first ten weeks of 2014. To find out details about the significance of those years and the buildings hosting them, you can click the links listed below. The links are arranged in the same scheme as the architecturally rendered years mentioned in the collage.

1900 : 1569

1894 : 1666

1724 : 1857

1908 : 1889

1898 : 1879

Art Deco apartment doors

Although today in Bucharest the temperatures were hovering around -12 centigrades, being freezing cold and blowy, my spirit, at least, was warmed up by a visit to an Art Deco style apartment that in part evoked much warmer climates and sunnier lands, a theme often encountered in this town’s Art Deco architecture.

The interior of the dwelling does not have much left from its original features, except the doors. The original wall and ceiling mouldings, the 1930s windows, bathroom and kitchen tiles and fittings, were replaced in the last few years by the owner, a “young artist”, who judging from the results of her misguided effort, is in fact is a typical Romanian period house proprietor, nurturing arrogant dreams about the money value of their real estate, but completely oblivious regarding its artistic and heritage worth. The doors remained in place, presumably because the owner ran out of money, splashed on the other “improvements”, otherwise I would have seen plastic made portals bought triumphantly from a DIY shop.

Art Deco apartment doors

Art Deco apartment doors, arch. B. Zilberman, 1935, Matei Basarab area (©Valentin Mandache)

The main door, pictured above, is a composition of panels displaying at its centre the rule of three, typical of the Art Deco, with the others arranged around in a gamma cross array, a cosmic motif that I encountered quite frequently in the ornamentation pertaining to this design in the Bucharest of the fourth decade of the c20th, associated usually with the nazi movement, which I believe was not the case here, as the block where this apartment belongs, was inhabited by Jewish families. The door’s lower register contains two overlapping semicircles, signifying the rising and setting sun of the southern seas.

Art Deco apartment doors

Name plate of arch. B. Zilberman on apartment block built in the early 1930s, Matei Basarab area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The apartment block dates from the mid-1930s and is located in Matei Basarab area, the architect being B. Zilberman, a designer with numerous commissions in that quarter, which in that period had a large Jewish population. His name and the fact that he is a graduate of the architectural school in Milan are proudly displayed in a name tablet on one of the exterior walls of the building.

Art Deco apartment doors

Art Deco apartment doors, arch. B. Zilberman, 1935, Matei Basarab area (©Valentin Mandache)

The bedroom door, seen in the third photograph, was narrower, but of wonderful proportions, preserving the gamma cross motif made from panels radiating a central window made from six openings. The lower register in this instance was embellished with three horizontal bars, according to the rule of three mentioned above.

Art Deco apartment doors

Art Deco apartment doors, arch. B. Zilberman, 1935, Matei Basarab area (©Valentin Mandache)

I like the three steps motif decorating the panel overhead the dressing room door, clearly enlivening the rest of the bedroom and diminishing the sense of weight generated by the unfortunate choice of wall colour by the contemporary owner.

These doors, survivors from happier times in the brave new world of Romania’s post-communist society, are important for the local architectural identity and also worth some money, even if the locals do not realise that yet. My hope is that the citizens of Bucharest and the country will start recovering through those witnesses their civic pride and appreciate the creations of their forebearers, who were certainly more sophisticated than their descendants.

De Stijl and Constructivist forms in the hallway of Frida Cohen House

Among the hidden architectural gems of Bucharest are the Modernist creations of Marcel Iancu (also spelt Janco or Janko), the culture polymath active on the architectural scene of Romania’s capital in the 1920s and the 1930s. Iancu’s buildings encompass his conceptions of art ranging from surrealism, as he was one of the foreruners of that current, Soviet inspired constructivism, functionalism to cubism, Bauhaus or expressionism. The Frida Cohen House, an apartment block, the amplest edifice designed by Iancu, exhibits many of those traits and for me is a delight to continuously discover new such elements with each visit I make there.

Frida Cohen House, arch. Marcel Iancu, 1935, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Frida Cohen House, arch. Marcel Iancu, 1935, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The constructivist and cubist features are obvious when analysing the exterior outlines and volumetry of Frida Cohen building, yet equally if not more fascinating patterns reveal themselves once one steps into the entrance hallway.

Frida Cohen House, arch. Marcel Iancu

Frida Cohen House, arch. Marcel Iancu, 1935, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Remarkable in my opinion is the floor with its grey and black tiles, arranged in a modern painting like figure, in the vein of the De Stijl artistic movement, where the forms although lack simple symmetry, as one would expect in an architectural design, nevertheless achieve a sense of balance through their inner kinetics.

Frida Cohen House, arch. Marcel Iancu

Frida Cohen House, arch. Marcel Iancu, 1935, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The main staircase of this noteworthy building is also a case in point, this time as an example of constructivist design, where the profile of the apparently utilitarian device is an equilateral triangle, a basic geometrical shape, seen, as other fundamental forms, within the Constructivist movement as a pure pattern. The staircase reminds me of one of Iancu’s celebrated affirmations that “the purpose of architecture was a “harmony of forms”, with designs as simplified as to resemble crystals” (Tom Sandqvist, p. 342). To me the crystal suggested by the stairwell contour is undoubtedly a diamond (the tetrahedron of Carbon atoms), which is a metafora for perfect harmony in itself.

Every single creation of Marcel Iancu is, as in the samples illustrated  above, brimful with meanings and symbols pertaining to the the emergence and maturation of the first Modern artistic currents, fostered by epoch making social and economic changes in the period that led up to the Great War and its aftermath decades, a fertile and effervescent period of which Bucharest benefited through the agency of such a hugely talented personality.

Volunteers for mock tours of Bucharest’s historic architecture

Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca is looking for volunteers: I am designing two new Bucharest architectural tours (Royal and Muntenian/ Brancovan themes) and would welcome participants for the following mock/ rehearsal tours (free of charge, of course):

  • Tuesday 21 January, the Royal theme, meeting at 11.30h (duration 2h) in front of Carol I statue, Revolution Square,
  • Wednesday 22 Jan., Brancovan theme, meeting at 11.30h (duration 2h) in front of the entrance of Municipal Museum – Sutu Palace.

You need to be physically fit for a walk in town, on a distance of 5km. The participants are welcome to actively engage with the expert in historic houses and ask questions you consider relevant to the tour theme.

Valentin Mandache, Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca

Rehearsal architectural tours: Royal and Muntenian/ Brancovan theme (Historic Houses of Romania - Case de Epoca)

Rehearsal architectural tours: Royal and Muntenian/ Brancovan theme (Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca)