Fin de Siècle house in Targoviste

A beautiful Fin de Siècle house in Targoviste, southern Romania photographed in a late July 2010 afternoon against a stormy sky. (©Valentin Mandache)

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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.

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

Clamshell Doorway Awning (Little Paris style)

Little Paris style doorway dating from the 1900s decade, Targoviste, southern Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

The elaborate and exquisite glass and wrought iron clamshell shape awning for doorways is a hallmark element of the Little Paris architecture of Romania that flourished in this country in the last quarter of the c19th. That type of awning is inspired from models used in c19th French historicist and Art Nouveau architecture, one of the most famous examples being the awning of the entrance into the Porte Dauphine metro station in Paris. The delicious clamshell awning with well preserved wrought iron garlands, presented in the photograph above, is from Targoviste, a city in southern Romania that still preserves many beautiful buildings from the Fin de Siècle period.

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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.

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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.

Mixed Style Houses: Little Paris & Neo-Romanian

Mixed Little Paris and Neo-Romanian architectural style houses, dating form the 1890s & 1900s, Targoviste, southern Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

The city of Targoviste in southern Romania contains an excellent selection of period architecture houses, reflecting the styles and architectural evolution of Romania’s provincial towns in the last century and a half. Some of the most interesting examples are those displaying mixed styles, such as the buildings presented in the photomontage above and the slide show bellow the text, exhibiting a delightful synthesis between the Little Paris and the Neo-Romanian architectural designs. That picturesque architecture has been created by the local skilled builders and craftsmen, who transposed in vernacular the prestigious and fashionable styles of their time. The usual occupants of this type of dwelling, which in the high density and land scarce area of Bucharest are known as “wagon houses“, were the families of the the small merchants and state employees (policemen, clerks, teachers, etc.) that constituted the emerging provincial middle classes of Fin de Siècle Romania.

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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.

Charming Neo-Romanian Style House

Neo-Romanian style house dating from the early 1930s, in Targoviste, southern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

This is a charming Neo-Romanian style house of well balanced proportions and gracious ornamental designs, from the town of Targoviste in southern Romania. I like the two air vents located on the wall frieze that have the shape of stylized Greek crosses. The chimney stack, the two arched windows endowed with ornate aprons, or the roof finial and crest are other prominent and finely constructed Neo-Romanian style elements.

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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.

Old Ottoman Glazed Verandas

Old houses built by small merchants, with glazed verandas, dating from the late c19th. Targoviste, southern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

A common feature of the Balkan Ottoman town houses built between the c18th and c19th are the large airy verandas spanning the entire street façade length. Once the glass technology has became cheaper in the late c18th, affording the production of larger glass pane quantities, these verandas started to be glazed over. That was a very effective means to increase the comfort of the occupants and also their privacy, an important element of family life throughout the Ottoman realm for all communities, Muslim, Christian or Jewish. The glazed veranda house thus became one of the most conspicuous type of Balkan Ottoman provincial town building. It was also often encountered in the Romanian provinces of Wallachia and Moldova that were for centuries under Ottoman rule. Today the glazed veranda houses are a rarity in Romania, after being replaced, over the last century and a half, on a massive scale by newer and more fashionable architectures ranging from French historicist styles to Neo-Romanian and Art Deco, which were also perceived as more prestigious vis-à-vis the old Ottoman heritage. I managed to find in Targoviste, a provincial town 80km north-west of Bucharest, some eloquent examples of glazed veranda houses dating from that era, presented in the photomontage above. They were built in the late c19th by local small merchants and the main reason why they are still around nowadays is probably because the actual occupants are too poor to afford ‘improvements’ like plastic frame double glazing or new concrete walls. These houses used to have, in the old days, impressive wooden shingle roofs, before the metal sheet covers became affordable in the early c20th. I was thus quite pleased to discover in this example a small patch of the old shingle roof, visible trough a small damaged area of the metal sheet cover (see the photomontage upper image, where the shingle roof fragment is discernible just to the right from the satellite dish). Such a house with glazed veranda and shingle roof, on a mostly a wooden structure, could constitute cheap and straight forward potential restoration/ renovation project for anyone willing to tackle such an enterprise, which would greatly contribute to the revitalisation of the old architectural heritage of the once charming Romanian provincial towns. Sadly most of the locals continue to see such structures as decrepit and replace them as soon as they get hold of a minimum of funds for ‘improvements’; in that regard the actual economic crisis is quite a godsend insuring the survival of these interesting historic houses.

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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.

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.

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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.

Mackintosh Chair Motif on Romanian Provincial Art Nouveau Doorway

Romanian 1900s provincial Art Nouveau doorway, Targoviste (©Valentin Mandache)

Targoviste is the medieval capital of the principality of Wallachia, located some 80km north-west of Bucharest. The meaning of the town’s name in old Romanian language is that of  “market town”, a true reflection of its medieval and early modern economy, until the advent of the oil industry in the inter-war period that changed its character. The city, at the turn between the c19th and the c20th was a picturesque provincial town, very proud of its heritage and legacy as the former capital, somehow like Winchester in England, if I can draw that parallel. The Art Nouveau style has some echoes in the local architecture, elements of which being displayed by a number of houses in the city centre. The doorway above adorns the side entrance of one of those picturesque buildings. What struck me the most in this obvious provincial design was the suggestion there of a Mackintosh chair motif, namely the famous oval topped back of an Argyle chair designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh at the end of c19th. This doorway may date from the 1900s, most probably repaired a few times since then in various degrees of refinement, and it shows the possible diffusion of this motif in a near vernacular form to this quite remote corner of Europe. The doorway may also be a more recent creation in tone with the rest of the Art Nouveau elements embellishing that house. A proper dating of it can of course be confirmed only through archive research.

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

Outlines of A Neo-Romanian Style House

A 1920s Neo-Romanian style house from Targoviste in southern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

The image above is a processed photograph (gradient map using reverse copper filter) of a 1920s Neo-Romanian style house from the town of Targoviste in southern Romania. The architectural outlines of this impressive building are excellently evidenced by the dramatic contrasts. The conversion brings to the fore the essence of that edifice, its underlying “fundamental equation”, making it intelligible to those who try to understand its style and aesthetic intricacies. It is also a helpful tool for those contemporary architects in Romania that have clients requiring Neo-Romanian style designs. The skill of creating compositions in historical styles is practically absent/ long forgotten among many of the local architects, graduates of institutions that have became, since the last decades of the communist regime, something resembling glorified civil engineering universities rather that proper architectural schools. I like the Art Nouveau feel exuded by this processed image, which makes obvious through its strong outlines the filiation of the Neo-Romanian style from the Fin de Siècle national romantic architectural movements developed within the then pan-European Art Nouveau current.

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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 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.

Little Paris Style House in Targoviste

Little Paris style house in Targoviste, dating from the 1890s, southern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

This type of architecture was very popular throughout the late c19th and early c20th Romania, inspired from the French c19th historicist styles. The house in the photograph above, located in the centre of Targoviste, 80 km north-west of Bucharest, is a relatively well preserved example, conveying the idea of how the Romanian towns would have looked like during the Fin de Siècle era. I am enchanted by the provincial picturesque manner in which the different ornaments and structural elements are rendered- for example the pediment above the doorway, which contains the owner’s ornate monogram, is a near rectangle triangle, very remote in proportions from the classical Greek temple model that it tries to emulate. Targoviste has a fair number of such houses, which can be reasonably restored to their former glory for a fair price. Unfortunately there are not enough qualified craftsmen and other specialists capable to undertake such a task in nowadays Romania. However, the biggest problem is represented by the multitude of ignorant owners and property speculators whose usual objective is the demolition of such historic structures in order to free the land for modern, more profitable buildings or in the more fortuitous instances to alter the property in order to ‘improve’ it with modern amenities, as can can be seen in this particular example- the horrible air conditioning units above the doorway awning or the tasteless plastic frame double glazing that replaced the original ornate windows.

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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 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.

Little Paris Style House in an Idyllic Setting

Little Paris style house dating from the 1890s in a verdant idyllic summer 2010 setting. Targoviste, southern Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

This Sunday last, I went for a second short architectural photography trip to Targoviste in southern Romania. The city is located in an Arcadia like natural setting, in the zone of contact between the Subcarpathian piedmont and the Wallachian plain (also called the Lower Danube prairie), between two important rivers, the Dambovita and the Ialomita. During the long summer seasons, the gardens and orchards of the local historic houses are overwhelmed by a dense explosion of lush leaves, delicious cherries and berries, and pungently perfumed flowers. That glorious state, which I just tried to describe, is much better conveyed by the above photograph of a Targoviste Little Paris style house (French c19th historicist styles provincially interpreted in Romania) dating from the last decade  of the c19th. It is a somehow stripped-down version of a Little Paris house, in contrast with the more abundantly decorated examples from Bucharest. Nevertheless, the patriarchal setting, typical of this provincial town in southern Romania, and the superb, near wild garden give this house an idyllic air of peace and timelessness. In my opinion this type of period property is one of the most affordable an rewarding potential renovation projects for anyone willing to take up such a challenge in this part of Europe.

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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 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.