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.

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

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.

Art Deco Garage Sign

Art Deco garage sign dating from the 1930s, Victoriei area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

I found this Art Deco sign on a taxi garage building in the area around the central government headquarters in Bucharest. While the sign frame is the 1930s original, I am not so certain about its glass panes, although they look quite in tone with the whole assembly.

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

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.

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

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.

Art Deco Shapes in 1914 Industrial Architecture

Bucharest waterworks 1911 - '14, commemorative plate- face and back views. (Private collection)
Bucharest waterworks 1911 - '14, commemorative plate (detail) - private collection

This is a commemorative silver plated bronze plate made to celebrate the finishing of the great civil engineering works programme in Bucharest, completed just before the start of the Great War in Europe (Romania officially entered the war only in 1916), which brought fresh and clean water to large areas of the city and also put in place a modern sewerage system. Prior to those works, most of Bucharest had a medieval like water and sewerage infrastructure, with the human and animal waste drained directly into the Dambovita, the river that crossed the city, and its small tributaries. Also the city was located among foul smell and unhealthy swamps produced by the numerous meanders of this river. The new waterworks were the very last word in terms of construction technology and an impressive example of industrial architecture, seen especially in examples of water tower and water purification station buildings. The plate presented here contains a prominently displayed water tower (see also the detailed image on the left), with an wonderful base structure composed from gradually sunken polygonal arches, made from reinforced concrete, sustaining the immense water tank chamber. The sunken arches point out to the Art Deco shapes and motifs developed in architecture more than a decade later. The same impression is given by the vertical rectangular windows surrounding the water tank chamber or the ventilation windows on top of the structure. The whole architecture wonderfully prefigures the Art Deco style, re-confirming its roots in the late Victorian machine era and industrial architecture and also in that brought about by the Great War industrial production needs.

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

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 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.

Origins of the money that financed the Neo-Romanian & Art Deco architecture of Romania

Oil field in southern Romania, late 1920s (old postcard, Valentin Mandache collection)

After the first Romanian building boom, when the “Little Paris” style was prevalent in architecture, came to a close with the onset of the First World War, the country experienced again such a phenomenon in the inter-war period with the new architectural preferences evolving toward Neo-Romanian and Art Deco. This second building boom was financed mainly by revenues from the country’s large oil exports, as one of the then top world producers of that important commodity, and also because of the creation of a large internal market, a result of the doubling of Romania’s territory and population after the Great War in consequence of the country being in the victors’ camp. Although agriculture was still providing the largest share of the GDP, the money resulted from oil exports were in greater part responsible for fuelling the building boom of that era, through investments made by oil firms and individuals connected with that industry and facilitating the emergence of a proper urban middle class with aspiring modern tastes. The architecture that characterises most of the building designs of that period has an interesting opposing duality, being represented by the grass roots indigenous Neo-Romanian style and the quintessentially internationalist Art Deco and Modernist styles. It reflected in architecture the huge dilemmas faced by Romania in its process of nation and identity building in the aftermath of the Great War. The old postcard from my collection (I found it at an antique fair in London) displayed above shows one of those rich oil fields of that era located in the Subcarpathian piedmont, north of Bucharest, where the landscape is literally overwhelmed by tens, even hundreds of oil wells. To underline the highly international nature of this business and its role in connecting Romania to the world, the postcard also shows a telling annotation made by the person who used it for correspondence in late 1920s, an English speaking individual (the US and also British companies had large investments in the Romanian oil industry of that time) who worked at that particular oil field and marked on the postcard the location of his home (see the hand written note “my home” at the end of a drawn line indicating a house among oil well towers).

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

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 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.

Daily Picture 14-Feb-10: Spa Town Development Boom in Victorian Era Romania

Sarata-Monteoru spa town in South East Romania, developed by the great Monteoru aristocratic-commercial family in the 1880 - '90s, part of the boom period of spa town developments in late Victorian era Romania. (old postcard Valentin Mandache collection)

Endowed with a geographically diverse territory and the longest sector of the Carpathian Mountains (over 1,000 km length of alpine geology mountain chains), Romania is very propitious for the development of spa towns around the innumerable hot and mineral springs, among stunning natural scenery. The Roman Empire was the first to establish such spas on what is now the Romanian territory (ie the Herculane Spa town in SW Romania) and the occasion occurred again in the Victorian era Romania, 17 centuries later, in a time of peace and prosperity not encountered by this region since the Roman conquest. The old postcard above shows an 1890s image of the pumps’ hall in Sarata-Monteoru spa town in Buzau county, SE Romania, one of the many such towns that sprang up in that era of prosperity. The architecture of these towns was that of similar establishments in Central Europe or France and Belgium. Many of these buildings and facilities still survive today, albeit in a very run down state or even on the verge of demolition, constituting extraordinary potential renovation projects for those willing to undertake such an enterprise. Unfortunately, these old quaint buildings, are also eyed by rapacious and ignorant local property developers.

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

I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating 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.

Daily Picture 22-Dec-09: Early 20th Century Bucharest Industrial Architecture

A quaint early 20th century piece of industrial heritage architecture of French design inspiration; a potential restoration/ renovation project. The Match Factory area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

***********************************************
I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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

If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating 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.

Victorian barn: an interesting example from southern Romania

Toward the end of the 19th century, Romania became one of the main European grain exporters, in close competition with the producers of Southern Russia (the Black Sea steppe). It was a direct result of the Crimean and the 1877-’78 Russian-Turkish wars that resulted in unencumbered international access to the waterways of the Danube, the Black Sea and the Bosporus straight, which opened again the trade routes of the region for first time since the Ottoman conquest, four centuries before.

The extraordinary demand from the industrialised countries of the Victorian Western Europe for large quantities of grains, made possible an unprecedented economic and cultural flourishing in Romania and from that period dates most of the picturesque French inspired architecture of Bucharest (what I call the “Little Paris” style) and of many other Romanian provincial towns.

The industrial architecture is another chapter of that development, seen today in the old barns that dot the countryside and the peculiar Victorian industrial buildings of the steam engine mills from the grain exporting ports on the Danube.

Peasants & crop transports waiting their turn to an industrial steam mill, 1899 Braila, Romania (Valentin Mandache collection)
Peasants with crop transports waiting their turn to an industrial steam mill, 1899 Braila, Romania (early postcard)

I found during my fieldwork an excellent example of a surviving 19thcentury barn in a village in Gorj county, south-western Romania.

Historic 19th century barn, Oltenia region (©Valentin Mandache)
Historic 19th century barn, Oltenia region (©Valentin Mandache)

Read more