Historic Bucharest is a motley collection of 19th and early 20thcentury European architectural styles rendered in a provincial manner, without the balance, concentration of meaning and imposing features of their namesake counterparts from the western part of the continent. That nevertheless imprints the city with a certain unique personality of a quirky oriental town, naively disguised under Rococo, Neoclassical, Art Nouveau and Art Deco facades. The only original order that emerged here is the remarkable Neo-Romanian style that wonderfully complements the diverse foreign inspired architectural mix.
These buildings, which already suffered heavy blows during the long years of the communist regime, are now fast disappearing because of a toxic convergence of adverse factors: the aftermath of the most rapacious property boom the country has ever seen, neglect from the city authorities and also the sheer ignorance of a large proportion of Bucharest’s citizens about their history and heritage encompassed by the historical buildings in which they live and work.
One such building was, until recently, a cheerful Art Deco little block of flats dating from the roaring twenties located in the Opera area, at no. 30, Calea Plevnei.
The Art Deco details have stood all vicissitudes of the last seven decades of neglect, mainly because the state and building tenants and proprietors did not have enough resources to renovate or modernise it.
It seems that now, since the country is an EU member, they have at last managed to get hold of money and consequently furiously proceeded to mutilate the building in order to achieve their short-sighted objectives.
The Art Deco plasters that are now badly damaged or erased from more than half of the façade were, until not long ago, a visual delight and an asset that would have greatly increased the market value of this building.
The dreadful consequences of five decades of communist low quality education that actively discouraged the proper appreciation of visual arts and disdain for country’s heritage, combined with two decades of wild capitalist development that sees Romania’s historic architecture as an obstacle against its short term property development goals are now felt at all levels, epitomised in this singular example. The ongoing economic crisis will probably cool down the irrational exuberance of Romania’s newly minted class of proprietors, but some decades will have to pass until the officials and general population will again attain a cultural and educational level that would make them aware about the economic and aesthetic value of the architectural heritage created by previous generations (©Valentin Mandache, All Rights Reserved, www.viapontica.wordpress.com)
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