Bucharest Art Deco apparent heights II

I recently found and photographed another interesting instance of what I call “Art Deco apparent heights”, a beautiful optical impression of svelteness and stature achieved by the gifted inter-war Bucharest architects in their designs, despite the frequent unpromising limitations imposed by the diminutive plots of land available for construction in this perennially crowded city. That visual effect can be seen in the excellently designed round corner (streamline) balconies shown in the images bellow, the creation of the architect Jean Stefan Burcus, embellishing a small mid-1930s apartment block from the Dorobanti area of Bucharest. In September 2010 I documented on this blog another such interesting “apparent heights” case (click here to access the image) in a building designed by the Zilberman architectural bureau in 1935. I like the clever use of the “rule of three” peculiar to the Art Deco style, visible here in the number of balconies, their three stepped bottoms and the strips adorning the balcony fence. The first photograph is a black and white image, while the second one bellow is seen through a violet-green-orange gradient filter, resulting in a beautiful, in my opinion, modernist-like poster of the commercial advert of the 1930s era.

Bucharest Art Deco apparent heights, black & white filter (©Valentin Mandache)
Bucharest Art Deco apparent heights, gradient violet-green-orange filter (©Valentin Mandache)

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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.

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

Art Deco “ocean liner” façade

The Art Deco style house presented bellow dates from the early 1930s and is an interesting rendering of the ocean liner theme within its generous street façade. The ocean liner allusions are  seen in the upper row of three porthole windows or the semicircular round profile, boat stern like, of the stairs tower on the left hand side of the building, crowned by an upper deck like veranda, next to a prominent chimney stack in the fashion of a ship funnel. The small balcony reminds me of the emergency boats hanging on the side of seagoing ships. I like the triangular profile bay windows on the right hand side of the house, which very intelligently suggest the bow of the boat. The short columns delineating the first floor windows are also a stylistic delight, being endowed with rich leaf motif capitals, suggesting the luxuriant vegetation of the southern seas, where the inter-war Bucharest people were longing to escape, if not for real, then in an imaginary way, transporting themselves there in their magnificent Art Deco ocean liner-like houses…

Art Deco façade, early 1930s house, Aviatorilor Square area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Art Deco house dating from the early 1930s, Aviatorilor Square area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Art Deco column with leaf motif capital, early 1903s house, Aviatorilor Square area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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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.

Art Deco pavement sign

Art Deco era pavement/ street sign, Ion Campineanu Street, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The photograph presents a stoically surviving street sign, indicating the offices of an inter-war company, carved in marble on the pavement, at the entrance of an Art Deco style apartment building in central Bucharest. I have been always impressed how this very visible sign, in the heart of the city, survived during the communist times, with their vicious ethos against the pre-war free enterprise culture.

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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.

Art Deco era builder name tablet

The name tablets of architects and builders are a conspicuous and enchanting feature on many of Bucharest’s inter-war public and private edifices. There is a great variety of lettering designs, with the most attractive ones adorning the Art Deco era buildings. The images bellow (grey scale and inverse colour copies of the same photograph) present a builder’s name tablet dating from the second part of the 1930s, which I found during my architectural photography outing yesterday in the Cotroceni area of the city. The name “G. Davys” indicates a person of west European descent, possibly Welsh, working as a developer on the lucrative Romanian property market of that era. I like the highly schematic design of the letters and their excellent inner proportion. The inverse colour filter image (second bellow) excellently conveys the three-dimensionality of these letters evidenced by the strong late afternoon sunshade of that day.

Art Deco era builders name tablet (grey scale filter), Cotroceni area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Art Deco era builders name tablet (inverse colour filter), Cotroceni area, Bucharest ©Valentin Mandache

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

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’s Art Deco glass canopies

Bucharest during the prosperous mid- and late-1930s, when Romania benefited from its important oil exports, boasted a series of well designed Art Deco style hotels and prestige apartment blocks, which had their entrance embellished with impressive glass canopies. These were exquisitely illuminated during the night with multicoloured electric lights, which together with the neon adverts that were ubiquitous throughout the city centre of that era, gave the impression of a modern capital, confident in future. Sadly, all of those accomplishments and civic aplomb reflected in architecture and urban life, were destroyed and nearly erased by a devastating World War Two, a harsh communist dictatorship that lasted nearly half a century and two decades of disordered transition to a market economy. I managed to find, during my fieldwork in Bucharest, a few of the last surviving Art Deco doorway glass canopies, now ignored, in a dilapidated state, or in the process of being dismantled, which are still managing to convey a bit from the beautiful atmosphere that percolated the city life in the forth decade of the c20th in this corner of the Balkans.

The first image bellow is probably the best preserved example of Art Deco doorway glass canopy in Bucharest, which adorns the entrance of the former Hotel Stanoiu (named Negoiu during the communist times) designed by the architect Arghir Culina, now the offices of an insurance company.

Art Deco hotel doorway glass canopy, the former Hotel Stanoiu, designed by architect Arghir Culina in the mid-'20s, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The next photograph is an Art Deco doorway glass canopy that has been affixed during the 1930s to the entrance of a Fin de Siècle building (which was probably a hotel) from the Lipscani Street in the old commercial quarter of Bucharest. The close up detail of this canopy shows that even its glass panes were patterned with Art Deco motifs.

Art Deco doorway glass canopy, Lipscani Street, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Close up detail of the Art Deco doorway glass canopy, Lipscani Street, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The two photographs bellow detail the glass doorway canopy of the former Hotel Dunarea, which now is left derelict, probably intended for demolition to make space for one of the usually corrupt Bucharest real estate development projects.

Art Deco doorway glass canopy, Hotel Dunarea, built in the mid-1930s, Gara de Nord area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Art Deco doorway glass canopy, Hotel Dunarea, built in the mid-1930s, Gara de Nord area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The last two photographs detail the remains of a doorway canopy that embellishes a prestige (in the 1930s, not nowadays) apartment block from central Bucharest. The entrance assembly is in a quite good state of preservation and can easily be restored, if of course there is will, expertise and finance available for such undertaking. Unfortunately all of these ingredients are missing in Bucharest and Romania of the second decade of the c21st and this building (and countless others like it), is slowly being defaced and barbarised by its own proprietors in misguided renovation works.

Art Deco doorway glass canopy, late 1930s apartment building, Brezoianu area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Art Deco doorway glass canopy, late 1930s apartment building, Brezoianu area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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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.

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

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.

Art Deco “Junkers JU 52” airplanes on the wall

The Romanian early c20th and inter-war aviation, both civil and the air forces, had great traditions and achievements in terms of airline companies connecting the country with the rest of Europe, manufacturing of excellent flying machines, both of domestic and under foreign licence design, and more than honourable results during the First and the Second World Wars. That is in sharp contrast with its pathetic state today after five decades of inefficient communist industrialisation and two decades of rapacious crony capitalism.

I was really enchanted to find the wall rendering, presented in the photographs bellow, of passenger airplanes from the Art Deco era of Bucharest. The panel is in an area of the city where the streets are named after famous pre-war and wartime pilots. It depicts aircraft with three front engines, a feature that was the hallmark of the German made “Junkers JU 52” airplane, an iconic machine that appeared in numerous visual arts representations from that period. The airplane was part of the fleet of the then Romanian airlines and very popular among the local public. I like the representation of these flying machines together with a flock of swallows, thus highlighting the quest of the modern industries of that era to reach the perfection of the nature. Also, at a closer look, one can see there quite subtle references to the Art Deco style’s rule of three in the three birds making up the swallow flock and also most interestingly in the three propeller engines of the JU 52 aircraft.

The nice impressions conveyed by this panel are unfortunately severely dampened by the home “improvements” made by the contemporary proprietors of this edifice, who drilled a hole through the panel just to make way for an unsightly air conditioning pipe or left old telephone cables hanging carelessly over the composition, all together  a telling expression of the terrible low level of culture and disregard for the city’s identity and heritage  displayed by a majority of Bucharest’s today inhabitants.

Art Deco airplane (Junkers-52) motif wall rendering, house from the mid-1930s, Domenii area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Art Deco airplane (Junkers-52) motif wall rendering, house from the mid-1930s, Domenii area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Art Deco airplane (Junkers-52) motif wall rendering, house from the mid-1930s, Domenii area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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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.

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

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.

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.

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

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 1910s letter rendering example from Bucharest

The pre-World War One architectural lettering exaples in Bucharest are relatively rare, with the one presented here adorning the ticket counter of the Iolanda Balas Stadium in the Kisseleff area of the city, itself one of the very few surviving sporting facilities from that era. The entrance to the stadium, seen in the third photograph bellow, contains well design neoclassical features and quite minimalist in its ornamental aspects, contrasting with the rich decorative architectural fashions of that era. According to a plaque affixed to the entrance wall, the stadium has been built in 1915 (a year of peace for Romania, which entered the Great War only one year later). I like the well balanced design of these letter and the discrete serifs which smooth their aspect and make their reading more cursive, reminding of the Victorian age newspaper headlines.

Letter rendering dating from the 1910s, Iolanda Balas stadium, built in 1915, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Letter rendering dating from the 1910s, Iolanda Balas stadium, built in 1915, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
The entrance of Iolanda Balas stadium, built in 1915, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

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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.

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

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.

Mid-1930s Bucharest Art Deco doorways

Art Deco style doorway, mid-1930s block of flats, Opera area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The doorway above is designed around what it seems to be a flamboyant 1930s car radiator or power transformer theme, which is extremely evocative of the dynamism that characterised the inter-war machine era from which the Art Deco style draws a great deal of its inspiration.

Art Deco style doorway, mid-1930s apartment house, Regina Maria area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

This example is tamer from the point of view of decorative motifs and design, being quite a “classical” looking Art Deco style doorway, of nice, harmonious proportions. Its most remarkable elements are, in my opinion, the two curved profile lateral lamps, which in the 1930s, in the days when the doorway came into existence, imprinted a conspicuous air of modernity to the whole building architecture.

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I endeavour 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.

Communist era “votive” panels

Communist era “votive” panels, Unirii Square area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I found the two bas-relief like panels presented above, hanging on the wall of a ground floor veranda of an apartment block in the Unirii Square area of Bucharest. They date from the height of the communist era in the 1970s and, looking at their typology, seem inspired from the paintings and creations of Sabin Balasa, a famous Romanian abstract painter active throughout the communist period and after. The panel from the upper half signifies the progress of society through modern industry, depicting a forward leaning worker, backed by a turbine generator and holding his hands on something that look as the elements of a power grid. The lower half panel symbolises education represented by a woman holding a torch that enlightens the masses, seconded by a flag signifying the communist party spirit, battling strong headwinds (a personification of the opposition put by the class enemies, perhaps). The whole assembly is reminiscent of a deeply troubling era for Romania and the outlines of the two panels bring to the fore striking similarities with the visual arts of the Third Reich or the Soviet Union in the 1930s, giving a hint of the strange roots of those dictatorial art trends in the Art Deco era in Europe.

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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.