Art Deco octagonal tower clock

Art Deco style tower clock assembly, the former National Hotel building, dating from the late 1930s, Blvd Carol I, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

This post has been inspired by one of Philip Wilkinson’s articles published in his magisterial “English Buildings” blog in which he mentions a quintessentially 1930s octagonal tower clock face on one of the London’s Art Deco hallmark buildings. I  thus recalled that I found here in Bucharest, at the opposite extremity of Europe, a quite spectacular Art Deco tower clock set within an exuberant arrangement of predominantly octagonal shapes, presented in the photograph above. It crowns the former National Hotel building, now the headquarters of an insurance company, which has been erected in the late 1930s (I have not yet identified the architect(s), but I will make the necessary mention as soon as I will find something). I very much like the play between the multitude of stern geometrical profiles and ornaments, which together embrace the clock face within a symphony of octagonal, square, oblong and other shapes, some arranged in stepped groups according to the rule of three peculiar to the Art Deco style. The great pity is that the clock itself is not the original one, but a cheap contemporary electronic replacement. I remember the original one in my student days in Bucharest during the late 1980s as being of a typical 1930s design, endowed with chunky bronze arms shaped like metal strips that revolved over a creamy white clock face. I just hope that the old clock has not been thrown away to the scrap metal bin as is often happening in Romania nowadays, but is stored somewhere inside the building awaiting better days when Bucharest people will again appreciate their architectural heritage and identity.

Location and actual urban context of the former National Hotel, Bucharest. The tower containing the octagonal clock is within the red rectangle.


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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