Art Deco – Modernist street corner house

Art Deco - Modernist street corner house dating from the late 1930s, Foisorul de Foc area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

This is a good example of a optimally used limited plot of land situated on a street corner in a high population density area of inter-war Bucharest. The design of this Art Deco – Modernist apartment house manages to be airy and also well proportioned in this generally adverse urban set up. This is another proof of the talent and experience of the architects of that era, skills that have sadly been lost in large proportion in the last seven decades of communism and post-communist transition in Romania. I like the flag pole that also acts as an ornament for the top porthole window, the whole assembly giving an impression of an ocean liner steaming metaphorically its way through the immensity of the lower Danube prairie where Bucharest is located.

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I endeavour through this daily series of 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.

Architect Jean Monda: 1931 ‘sober’ Art Deco design

Jean Monda has been one of the most long-lived and creative Romanian architects, active from the 1920s until the 1980s. His name is mostly associated with the development of the International Modernist style in Romania, being one of the post-war standard bearer architects that helped maintain the architectural profession at high level during the difficult conditions of the communist era. There is a biography of him in French, for those who would like to find out more details about his inter-war creations: “Jean Monda, architecte”, Luceafarul Publishing House, 1940. I found, during one of my Bucharest fieldwork days, a very interesting early Monda designed building (form 1931, as the year on the name tablet presented bellow shows), which through its more unusual design abundantly betrays him as a talented and resourceful architect.

Architect Jean Monda and builder J. Berman name tablet affixed on the 1931 Art Deco building from Mantuleasa area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The style of the edifice is an Art Deco, in general lines, with Modernist and inter-war Classical Monumentalist echoes, including some Bauhaus inspired elements. The building is like a drawing board on which Monda has tried his hand in the architectural trends of his day.

Architect Jean Monda designed building, 1931, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The Art Deco rule of three can be seen everywhere throughout the building as is the case with the design of the multi-floor bay windows, the abstract motifs decorative panels or the doorway decoration (see bellow).

Architect Jean Monda designed building, 1931, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The Classical Monumentalist features, that were were popular in Romania of that era through the strong influence of the Italian fascist architecture, can be seen in the massive false four pillars enclosing the doorway in the middle, the two circular profile columns decorating the glazed stairs case window or the rusticated wall base.

Architect Jean Monda designed building, 1931, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The Bauhaus inspired elements are in my opinion the openings of the stairs case windows, interestingly distributed and of a design of that brings to mind Paul Klee’s or Mondrian’s paintings.

Architect Jean Monda designed building, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest 1931 (©Valentin Mandache)

The modernist features stem from the right angle outlines of the building, minimalist decoration and the air of sobriety conveyed by the design as a whole.

Architect Jean Monda designed building, 1931, Mantuleasa area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I believe this is a remarkable example of Romanian inter-war architecture from a defining moment in time charged with intense creative energies, angst and searches among the architects of that time, where Monda has been one of the Modernist current exponents, that marked the built landscape of the Bucharest and many other urban areas of the country for years to come. My biggest regret is that because of the lack of a wide lenses camera, I could not take pictures which would have shown this noteworthy building in a greater degree of plenitude and actual urban context.

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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 history and 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 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.

1970s Romanian Modernism

Romania has seen its last strokes of quality architecture during the 1970s, when many of the talented inter-war generation architects were approaching the end of their professional life and their pupils were worthy followers of their masters. The subsequent decade marked the heightening of Ceausescu’s personal dictatorship to Orwellian levels, when the country was saddled with megalomaniac industrial and public architecture projects like the infamous House of the People palace, which today houses the Romanian parliament, allegedly the second largest building in the world. That crass political expediency, very similar with that of the North Korea, at the expense of quality and professionalism marked a terrible deterioration of the architectural profession in Romania, a situation from which has not yet recoverd even now, two decade after the fall of the communist dictatorship. I sometime encounter architecturally notable post-war modernist buildings during my fieldwork assignments throughout the country, which generally fit the rule that were designed and built before 1980 – ’82 (when Ceausescu’s totalitarianism finally griped the society to all levels). One such encounter is the building presented bellow from the city of Campina in southern Romania, dating probably from the late 1970s. Its hallmark is the well designed doorway with a very bold concrete awning, like the ascending path of a jet aircraft. The edifice is now empty and left unmaintained, an indication sign that its future is grim. Many such good examples of post-war modernist architecture are now slowly disappearing from Romania’s built landscape, being replaced by coarsely designed architectural concoctions, products of the rapacious real estate speculation that has engulfed Romania in the recent.

Romanian 1970s modernist architecture, Campina (©Valentin Mandache)
Romanian 1970s modernist architecture, Campina (©Valentin Mandache)
Romanian 1970s modernist architecture, Campina (©Valentin Mandache)
Romanian 1970s modernist architecture, Campina (©Valentin Mandache)

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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 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.

Modernist Art Deco style apartment building

A well proportioned modernist Art Deco style apartment building dating from late 1930s, Popa Soare area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The well designed building from the above photograph features an Art Deco style with modernist features, popular in the late 1930s. The modernist features are represented by the stern rectangular outlines of the building and the use of concrete and iron as main construction materials. The Art Deco is embodied by structural elements such as the staircase tower or the usage of the “rule of three” in the number of floor levels and or that of the street fence beams, etc. Bucharest contains a fair number of such fascinating borderline design buildings, such as in an example that I documented at this link. In the particular case of this apartment house, the typology of the design is probably Italian, a product of an Italian architectural bureau or of a Romanian architect influenced by the Italian school of architecture of that time. Italy had a strong cultural influence in Romania during the inter-war period and many Italian building firms and architectural bureaus were active in the country throughout that era. I have documented that fascinating connection in some previous articles, such as here or there (click the links for access).

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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 Style Greek God Bass-Reliefs: Photomontage & Slide Show

Art Deco style Greek gods bas-reliefs (1939), Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

One of the most imposing edifices on the Damboviata river embankment in Bucharest is the 1939 “CEC Pensions House” designed by the architect Nicolae Cucu in a strikingly robust classicised Art Deco style (often erroneously identified in architectural reviews published in Romania as “monumental neoclassical”), a hallmark of that period imbued by the totalitarian design fashions emanating from Mussolini’s Italy that heavily influenced the Romanian architecture in the second part of the 1930s. The most remarkable element of this building is the bas-relief frieze depicting Greek gods, placed well above the street level, a fact which unfortunately makes it difficult to notice and study for the passers by. In order to convey the beauty and harmonious proportions of those bass-reliefs, I photographed and arranged them in the above photomontage and in the slide show bellow. The Art Deco style rendering of these mythological figures from the Greeko-Roman pantheon is in my opinion just breathtaking. I like their androgyne features, typical of the god depictions in the Greek classical art. Also interesting is their arrangement within the frieze with the two goddesses Demetra and Pallas facing the two gods Apollo and Mercur as metaphor for harmony and balance, a necessary feature for a Pensions House company hosted initially within this building. One can see the high talent of the architect Nicolae Cucu in the design of these wonderful medallions and of the building itself. Cucu’s capabilities were again usefully employed years later, when another totalitarian regime took over in Romania after the war, in the design of the Communist Heroes’ Mausoleum in Bucharest, perhaps the architecturally most beautiful monumental structure built during the communist era in Romania.

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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.

The Essential Outlines of an Art Deco Block of Flats

A very high quality design example of an Art Deco block of flats with modernist outlines in Dorobanti area, Bucharest, dating from late 1930s. (©Valentin Mandache)

Although this building has apparently very limited decoration consisting mainly in that of the stairs tower’s parallel window strips and a series of curvatures on the building corner and balconies, it nevertheless emanates a strong sense of high quality design accomplishment, often a hallmark of inter-war Bucharest architecture, in many aspects ahead of its time. I very much like the gates, on the left hand side of the image, together with the block’s doorway provided with a simple rectangular awning, all seamlessly integrated within this inclusive beautiful architectural composition.

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small 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.

Modernist Late-1930s House in Bucharest

Modernist design house, Bucharest (Valentin Mandache)
An attractive example of late 1930s Modernist design house with a touch of Art Deco elements like the doorway style or the grooves at the base of the façade wall, etc. Popa Soare area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small 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 Era Architect’s Name Tablets

A part of my collection of wall tablet images containing some of the most famous names of architects that made Bucharest an Art Deco gem city in the 1930s. The letter rendering of these names bears also the mark of the beautiful Art Deco era writing styles. (©Valentin Mandache)

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 20-Jan-10: Inter-War Modernist Style Country Villa

A well balanced and remarkable modernist style design of a 1930s, Teleorman county, Wallachia. (©Valentin Mandache)

The early 1930s, immediately after the Great Depression, were very productive years for the Romanian modernist architects. Bucharest is the place that gathers many of their master-works, but these can also be found in smaller towns or in the countryside, such as the above villa which I photographed in May last year, SW of Bucharest. It has replaced an earlier country mansion built at the end of c19th in a style inspired from the French architecture of the time. I was not able to find who was the architect, but the design is grass roots Romanian modernism in  the manner of the classic works of produced by the great architect Henriette Delavrancea-Gibory (see especially her Black Sea shore villa examples): rectangular volumes, enlivened by arches and columns (derived from the Neo-Romanian order), oblique roof profiles and small ornaments. Now the villa is renovated by local owners, who have altered or replaced many of its original features in an amateurish manner, using ordinary DIY stock products, a fate shared by an increasing number of period properties throughout Romania.

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

Daily Picture 19-Jan-10: Glazed Stair Towers Art Deco Building

Art Deco - Modernist style building, designed by the architect Alexandru Zamphiropol in 1933. Domenii area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The architect has enlivened an apparent boring façade symmetry through the prominent use of glazed staircase towers (a large and rounded near-central one, balanced by a side angular shape tower). The whole composition mimics an ocean cruise liner (round windows, flag pole, large glazed surfaces), an important Art Deco style motif.

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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 Contact page of this weblog.