Architectural walking tour in Cismigiu area – Sunday 5 July

Dear Readers,

I would like to invite you, in my quality as the author of Historic Houses or Romania – Case de Epoca blog, to an architectural history tour in Cismigiu area of Bucharest. This cultural excursion, open to all of you, is scheduled to take place this Saturday 5 July 2015, for two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h.

I will be your guide throughout this beautiful expanse of Bucharest, which unfurls around Cismigiu Gardens, the “Central Park” of the city, which is also its oldest surviving landscaped garden. The quarter boasts a balanced mix of architectures ranging from Little Paris, Neo-Romanian to Art Deco and Modernism, and also representative church buildings, various species of neo-Gothic and even triumphalist Mussolinian styles. Cismigiu is packed with the remarkable creations of some of the most famous native and foreign born architects, active on the local market starting with the last decades of the c19th; personalities such as Giulio Magni, Oscar Maugsch, Horia and Ion Creanga, Ion and Tiberiu Niga, Nicolae Cucu, Gheorghe Simotta, Petre Antonescu or Emil Günes, to cite just some of them. All of these exceedingly interesting edifices and garden architecture are waiting to be discovered by you!

The tour costs Lei 45 (Romanian currency) per person, 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 Cismigiu area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Historic Houses of Romania architectural walking tour in Cismigiu area, Bucharest

Historic Houses of Romania architectural walking tour in Cismigiu area, Bucharest

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I endeavour through this series of periodic articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and its wider region in the south east Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of architectural history and heritage.

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

If you would like to find out about the architectural style and history of a period house in Romania, which you intend to acquire, sell, renovate in its historic spirit or restore, I would be delighted to offer you professional consultancy in that direction. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

Walking tour in Cotroceni historic quarter of Bucharest. Saturday 4 July

Dear Readers,

This is an invitation to an architectural history tour in the Cotoroceni quarter of Bucharest, open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog, for two hours, between 16.00h – 18.00h, on Saturday 4 July ’15.

I will be your expert guide through one of the best quality historic architecture areas of Romania’s capital, constituted mainly from Neo-Romanian and Art Deco designs. These edifices were developed for the professional classes, especially well known medics, who built their residences  in the environs of Bucharest’s Medical University, the most prestigious higher education institution in that field from these parts of Europe, located at he heart of Cotroceni quarter. The area also boasts Romania’s Presidential Palace, a former official residence of country’s royal family, which inspired a great deal the architectural styles of this city quarter. All of that highly enticing built heritage is waiting to be discovered! Cotroceni is also populated by diverse species of  trees, which will give us an image how a beautiful Bucharest quarter of yester decades used to look, a sample of its environmental identity, a city renowned by its gardens and tree lined streets, before the urban agglomeration and decay of the communist and post-communist eras altered that charming character.

The tour costs Lei 45 (Romanian currency) per person, 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 Cotroceni area of Bucharest

Historic Houses of Romania architectural tour in Cotroceni quarter 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 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 Neoromanian style at its peak- architectural tour after working hours, Wednesday 1 July

Dear readers,

I will organise an architectural tour this Wednesday 1 July 2015, after working hours, between 18.00h – 20.00h, on the subject of the mature phase of the Neoromanian architectural style, when it reached a peak in terms of expression and development. That represents an extraordinary creative period, in the first decades of the c20th, which produced the most iconic and accomplished edifices in this manner of design specific to Romania and neighbouring regions where the country had influence. The Neoromanian style had thus became the most visible identity marker of this nation and its chief contribution to the world’s heritage. Bucharest is the best endowed place with edifices built in that architecture. The tour may be of interest to any of you working as expatriates here or visiting the city, looking to find out more about the local fascinating historic architecture and identity.

The mature phase of the Neo-Romanian style unfurled over a period that started with the Great Royal Jubilee Exhibition of 1906 in Bucharest when this order was presented to the wider public, until the end of the third decade of the c20th, when it reached a certain crisis of expression under the impact of international artistic and architectural currents, such as Art Deco and Modernism, and adaptation to new building technologies, which later gave way to fascinating hybridisations. The tour endeavours to explain the characteristics of some of the significant Neoromanian buildings designed and built at the apogee of the development of this indigenous order, edifices located in central Bucharest (see the map bellow for the tour area), such as arch. Petre Antonescu’s Marmorosch Blank Bank edifice (1915 -23) or the Palace of the Post Office Customs designed by arch. Statie Ciortan (1914 – ’26), offering you a good overall image about the vivacity of this remarkable architectural phenomenon and its huge impact over the cultural identity of Romania’s capital and the rest of the country.

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 walking tour in Bucharest: The mature phase Neo-Romanian Style

Historic Houses of Romania walking tour: the Neo-Romanian style at its apogee

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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 Dorobanti area of Bucharest – Sunday 28 June

Dear readers,

This is an invitation to an architectural history tour in Dorobanti area of Bucharest: open to all of you who would like to accompany the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog, this Sunday 28 June 2015for two hours, between 16.30h – 20.30h.

I will be your guide through one of the architecturally most distinguished areas of Bucharest, in the same league with Kiseleff in its quality of historic buildings. Dorobanti is brimful with architectural wonders, ranging from the finest Neo-Romanian to Art Deco style houses or hybrids between the two, to many other architectural designs. There are also some beautiful public monuments from the inter-war period dotting the tree lined streets and piazzas. The area is also host to many foreign diplomatic missions occupying some of its most beautiful mansions. Dorobanti is thus a compendium of Bucharest’s architecture, which in many aspects is still well preserved. All of these exquisite sights from one of the city’s most prestigious quarters are awaiting to be discovered and photographed by you!

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)

Dorobanti area historic architecture, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Historic Houses of Romania architectural tour in Dorobanti 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 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.

Bucharest as the Little Paris of the Balkans – tour Saturday 27 June

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a thematic walking tour, to take place this Saturday 27 June 2015, after working hours, between 16.30h – 18.30h, on the subject of the late c19th – early c20th French and western historicist inspired architecture of Bucharest, which made the city known to the rest of world as the “Little Paris of the Balkans”, a phenomenon that imprinted the identity of Romania’s capital ever since. 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 character.

The first building boom of modern era Bucharest happened during the period aptly named La Belle Époque, which corresponds with the late Victorian and early Edwardian epochs for the English speaking world (or Gilded Age in the US). It was characterised by a charming architecture inspired especially from the flamboyant neo-baroque, neo-rococo and also neo-gothic forms fashionable in France, a country seen by the then Romanians as a beacon of culture worthy to emulate, and from other west European states held in high regard by the then young Balkan nation. The local architecture thus acquired a personality of its own by combining the new forms with the indigenous and Ottoman traditional motifs and construction methods, resulting in what I collectively call, as an umbrella term, the “Little Paris style”. This is a type of architecture peculiar to the Fin de Siècle Romania and also to a lesser extent to the rest of the Balkans, reflecting the modernisation of the society and fusion in architecture of the western fashions together with ancestral forms. Bucharest is the best place in the entire region to view and study that peculiar type of architecture that emerged in this part of Europe, which because of its high concentration and relatively good state of preservation, is still an important component of the local built landscape. In the course of this tour I endeavour to show you some of the representative Little Paris style buildings found in central Bucharest, explain their architectural intricacies and the economic and social history contained without and within their walls and thus convey to you how amazing the Little Paris style is.

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 – Bucharest as the Little Paris of the Balkans with Valentin Mandache

Architectural walking tour: Bucharest as the Little Paris of the Balkans

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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 on Sunday 21 June: Remnants of the Great Exhibition of 1906 in Carol Park

Dear Readers,

I would like to invite you to a Historic Houses of Romania tour in Carol Park, which apart from intellectual fulfilment, would also offer the possibility to take a breath of fresh air and witness the onset of spring season at this latitude. The tour is open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of this blog, for two hours, on Sunday 21 June 2015, between 11.30h – 13.30h.

We will identify and examine the fascinating vestiges of the Great Exhibition of 1906 (also known as the Royal Jubilee Exhibition, see the pictures presented here), held in that park created specially for the event, when the Neo-Romanian architectural style was popularised to the wider public, contributing to the inception of its mature phase of development for the next two decades and its large scale adoption throughout Romania and neighbouring regions, where the country had a direct influence, especially during the interwar period.

The 1906 Royal Jubilee Exhibition has been the largest such event in south east Europe, modelled after the great universal exhibitions that took place in the western capitals or America starting with the mid c19th. The event was a proud gathering place of some of the best creations Romania had to offer at that date, celebrating 40 years of King Carol I’s glorious rule that saw the economic advancement, and achievement of the country’s independence, and also 1,800 years since what are now the Romanian lands were conquered by the Roman Empire (what in historiography is known as Emperor Trajan’s second Dacian War), which thus ignited the formation of the Romanian language and community. The exhibition whose remains we are going to admire in this special tour, was the equivalent of the TV or the websites of its day, immensely contributing to the spread of design fashions, especially Neo-Romanian architectural models throughout the whole of the then Romania.

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 tour : the remnants of the Great Exibition of 1906 in Carol Park, Bucharest

Historic Houses of Romania tour : the remnants of the Royal Jubilee Exibition of 1906 in Carol Park, 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 walking tour: The Landmarks of Central Bucharest – Saturday 20 June

Historic Houses of Romania tour in central BucharestDear readers,

I would like to invite you to an architectural history tour to take place in central Bucharest, in the area around the former Royal Palace, which contains the Romanian Athenaeum, the symbol of this town and many other landmark buildings that imprint its personality. The tour is scheduled on Saturday 20 June 2015, for two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h. This cultural excursion 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.

Bucharest has had a number of central areas as it evolved from a medieval market town in what is now the Lipscani quarter, within a bend of the Dambovita river, afterward periodically shifting its location, following directions toward the main regional trading partners: to the south and east during the centuries of Ottoman domination, or to the north once the European powers had the upper hand in the region. What we call today the centre of Romania’s capital, the objective of our tour, emerged less than one and a half centuries ago, encompassing some of its most iconic historic architecture, from the Athenaeum, a magnificent concert hall in the Beaux Arts style, built in a first phase in 1888, designed by the French architect Albert Galleron, to the neoclassical outlines of the former Royal Palace (arch. N. Nenciulescu, 1937) that today hosts the National Art Museum, or the futuristic glass structure that crowns the neo-Renaissance building of the former Habsburg Empire’s Embassy gutted by fire in the anticommunist revolution of 1989. We will also examine the Athenee Palace hotel, the famous spynest where British, US and German spies tried to outwit each other in the years and months right before the Second World War, or the  despised former Communist Party’s Central Committee headquarters, where the dictator Ceausescu and his wife had to leave in haste to meet their fate, pursued by the revolted people of Bucharest, marking the end on one of the harshest dictatorships in Europe. The area is also still bearing bullet marks from the anticommunist revolution or even older traces left by the German air raid of August 1944. We will also visit and examine the site of the former National Theatre, the equivalent of England’s the Globe for Romania, and Cretzulescu Church, a masterwork of the Barncovan style peculiar to the province of Wallachia, among many other objectives. The tour will end with a visit at Aman Museum, as an architectural history apotheosis, an edifice that is a magnificent piece of Little Paris interior and exterior design, embodying the architecture of Bucharest of the La Belle Époque period. All of those exquisite sights, concentrated in a quite small perimeter, enclosing some of the most important architectural landmarks of this town are awaiting to be discovered and photographed by you!

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 tour in central Bucharest

Historic Houses of Romania tour in central Bucharest

Historic Houses of Romania architectural tour in central Bucharest

Historic Houses of Romania architectural tour in central Bucharest

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

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.

Art Nouveau Bucharest – Thursday 18 June tour, after working hours

Dear readers,

I will organise a thematic architectural tour this Thursday 18 June ’15, after working hours, between 18.15h – 20.15h, on the subject of the exceedingly interesting, but often elusive Art Nouveau architecture of Bucharest. This cultural excursion 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 innovative and flamboyant Art Nouveau current that emerged at the end of c19th, as a reaction to the rigidity of the historicist styles, had also an important impact in Fin de Siècle Romania. One of its notable influences was the articulation

within its coordinates of the local national style, known today as Neoromanian, in a similar manner with other emerging national styles in the rest of Eastern Europe. Today the once exquisite Art Nouveau remnants are hard to notice by the untrained eye, although they are quite numerous, but scattered throughout the area of old Bucharest and often obscured by inclusion within ampler architectural assemblies rendered in historicist c19th styles. This tour endeavours to locate and explain the meaning and message of  some of the significant Art Nouveau representations that embellish the city center and give you an overall image about this style and its impact on the architectural development of Romania’s capital.

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)

Art Nouveau Bucharest – architectural tour (©Valentin Mandache)

Historic Houses of Romania tour: Art Nouveau 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.

Walking tour Sunday 14 June: The Late Neo-Romanian Style of Bucharest’s Kiseleff Park area

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a thematic architectural tour this Sunday 14 June ’15, on the subject of the late phase of the Neo-Romanian architectural style, which unfurled mainly in the fourth and the fifth decades of the c20th, a period when this order peculiar to Romania reached a crisis in terms of expression, mitigated by a fascinating synthesis with the Art Deco, Mediterranean and Modernist styles. The tour takes two hours, between 11.30h – 13.30h, and it may be of interest to those of you visiting the city as a tourist or on business looking to find out more about its enchanting historic architecture and identity.

The modern construction technologies that emerged in the roaring twenties affording the development of light, airy structures expressed in the Art Deco and Modernist architecture, were quite antithetical to the traditionally ornate, heavy, built in brick and masonry, Neo-Romanian style edifices, as typical to its early and mature phases. That led to a crisis within this indigenous architectural order, threatened also by the high popularity among the public of the international modern styles or other fashionable building types, such as the Mediterranean inspired designs, which were all the rage in Bucharest during the 1930s. The Neo-Romanian style managed to survive and even thrive, until the watershed of the Second World War, through fascinating syntheses especially with the Art Deco, Mediterranean and to a lesser extent with the Modernist designs. The tour aims to present a number of telling examples from that phase of stylistic development located in Kiseleff Park area of north-central Bucharest, which is endowed with a higher concentration of such edifices, and thus chart a captivating chapter of Romania’s national style’s development and of Bucharest’s historic architecture.

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 thematic tour: The Late Neo-Romanian Style

Historic Houses of Romania tour: The late Neo-Romanian style

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I endeavour through this series of periodic articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and its wider region in the south east Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of architectural history and heritage.

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

If you would like to find out about the architectural style and history of a period house in Romania, which you intend to acquire, sell, renovate in its historic spirit or restore, I would be delighted to offer you professional consultancy in that direction. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.

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.

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

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)