Venetian Echoes in Inter-war Bucharest Architecture

A house displaying well defined and balanced Venetian style motifs, a decorative order popular in 1930s Bucharest; Vasile Lascar area. (©Valentin Mandache)

The assorted mix of architectural styles of inter-war Bucharest contains, apart from its main components, the Neo-Romanian, Art Deco and Modernist orders, a series of interesting architectural trends and creations of a more peculiar expression, such as what I call the “inter-war Venetian style”. It became popular in the 1930s at a time of intense cultural links with Italy (Romania even maintained a research institute in Venice, set up in 1930) and evolved from the Venetian Renaissance component of the stylistic background on which the Neo-Romanian architecture was initially based. A good example is the house in the photograph above, that displays crisp, well balanced Venetian style details such as thin columns, Venetian type capitals, balcony’s latticework decoration, etc. I especially like the way how the slender column of the balcony, supporting an airy pergola, breaks the monotony of the façade and smoothens the contrast between the group of tall columns in the background and the short height of the balcony fence, an excellent visual solution that highlights the talent of the local inter-war architects.

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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.

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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.

Fairy Tale Architecture

An interesting fairy tale castle architecture example; a style that became popular during the prosperous oil export boom period of late 1930s in Romania. House in Carol Park area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

In late 1930s, after the world economic crisis, Romania struck lucky with its large oil reserves and ensuing exports. The country grew prosperous and that enabled the emergence of a diversified and flamboyant architecture in Bucharest and the rest of the country, which experimented in a diversity of styles from Neo-Romanian to the most brilliant international modernist style in the vein of Le Corbusier’s school. In the end that oil wealth proved to be a curse, subsequently taken over by Nazi Germany and becoming the main oil supplier for their war machine. As a result, the country suffered terrible bombing raids from the Allies (see the US bombing of Ploiesti oil refineries, one of the largest such actions during WWII). A peculiar result in architectural terms of the late 1930s boom period was the emergence of a fairy tale type architecture in Bucharest catering for the more frivolous tastes of some of the local patrons. It is on the borderline between the fashion introduced by the Disney films that became popular at that time and the longing of the wealthy locals for exotic places, especially for those around the Mediterranean. Some contemporary Romanian tourist and cultural guides call it erroneously as “Moorish” style, an allusion to the Spain’s Muslim era architecture. An eloquent example is the house above, which I photographed in the area of Carol Park, which models such a fairy tale castle with a jumble of interesting ogee and round arched windows and towers provided with crenellations, indeed a delight for those long gone easy times.

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.