Sheet metal fretwork in Chisinau

Sheet Metal fretwork, Chisinau (©Valentin Mandache)

I found these picturesque sheet metal fretwork doorway embellishments during my recent visit in Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova. They date in my opinion from the mid-1980s, perhaps the early 1990s. They are quite attractive and present a curious vernacular synthesis between the triangular pediment of a classical temple found among the prestigious historicist c19th buildings of the city, and rich ethnographic motifs inspired from the Ukrainian and the Russian ethnography. Another area rich in sheet metal fretwork architectural embellishments is Bucovina, a borderland between Romania and Ukraine, where the local ethnography expounds a large degree of fusion between the civilizations of the Romanian and Slavic communities.

Sheet metal fretwork, Chisinau (©Valentin Mandache)
Sheet metal fretwork, Chisinau (©Valentin Mandache)

Vernacular Art Deco

Vernacular Art Deco house dating from the 1960s, Buzau, south east Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

The modest house pictured above is located in one of the quarters of Buzau, a county town in south east Romania, being one of the many interesting examples of vernacular Art Deco style dwellings built by craftsmen and “DIY” private individuals throughout Romania between the late 1930s until the mid-1970s when the communist regime severely restricted the building of houses by private individuals. I like the porthole windows that decorate the loft area and the stairs like profile of the front yard wall top – gable end, which are the Art Deco “hallmarks” of this house. Usually the vernacular versions of the consecrated architectural styles follow models of local prestigious buildings, which then get disseminated within the local area. I documented such a vernacular dissemination instance for Buzau area in the case of an Art Nouveau roof eave ornament, seen at this link that follows a model displayed by the local Buzau Commune Palace, the most important and also magnificent building in the county. For the Art Deco case illustrated in the above photograph, the model must have also been a great edifice with high prestige among the locals such as a 1930s state of the art hospital or a cinema where the latest Hollywood productions would have been the delight of the natives then.

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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.

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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.

Vernacular Neo-Romanian style house

Vernacular Neo-Romanian style house dating from the early 1920s, Buzau, south-east Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

I found this a quaint provincial, craftsman designed town house in the town of Buzau, south-eastern Romania. The building displays a mixture of styles, rendered in a vernacular fashion, where the most eye-catching order is the Neo-Romanian one, seen in the massive broken arch windows and the architrave medallions. There are also strong features pointing out to the Little Paris style popular during the Fin de Siècle era throughout the then Romania, a suave synthesis of provincially interpreted French c19th historicist architectural styles and a multitude of local Ottoman Balkan decorative elements, most evident in this case in the wooden roof eave ornaments or the apparent quoins. The vernacular interpretation of the established architectural styles is frequently encountered in the Romanian provincial towns, where professional architects were in short supply or too expensive to hire and many houses were designed and built by skilled craftsmen. In an earlier post I documented some similar remarkable examples from the town of  Targoviste in southern Romania: click here for access.

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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 Contact page 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.

Bucharest 1903 Vernacular Exterior Decoration

Bucharest vernacular fin de siècle exterior decoration; Icoanei area. (©Valentin Mandache)

Fin de siècle Bucharest was in many aspects a patriarchal, at peace with itself place located at the triple periphery of the Ottoman, Russian and Austrian-Hungarian empires. Its architecture had a pronounced vernacular character borrowing motifs from both Western and Oriental traditions and imitating in a creative rusticated way the decorative registers of the few prestigious  private houses and public edifices designed by the handful of professional architects active then in the country. I found the example presented in the image above expressing wonderfully the vernacular architecture prevalent in fin de siècle Bucharest. It embellishes the expanse above the doorway of a wagon type house in Icoanei area and gathers together western inspired decorative motifs such as the pair of cornucopia with undulating ribbons flanking the monogram of the first house owner, rendered in a naive Art Nouveau type lettering, and also motifs inspired from Ottoman Balkan architecture such as the rope motif frieze and the intricately worked wooden supports of the roof eave placed at regular intervals. In all the impression conveyed is one of serene bucolic ambiance peculiar to a long bygone age in this corner of Europe.

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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.

Identical Symmetric Houses at a Crossroad in Campulung-Arges

Identical houses of a symmetric design, dating from mid-1930s, in Campulung-Arges (Photography: Daniel Bobe)

Recently one of my readers, Mr. Daniel Bobe, who is a student in Bucharest has very kindly offered to make, during the just passed Easter break, a series of architectural photographs in the area of his home town in Campulung Arges in Southern Romania. I was always fascinated by the architecture of Arges county, especially in the region of the first two capitals of the principality of Wallachia: Campulung and Curtea de Arges. It is a zone with a powerful local identity and rich architectural tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages.  Daniel has sent me a wealth of images from Campulung, which will make the object of a few blogposts. Herein is an interesting example of 1930s architecture that uses Neo-Romanian and Art Deco outlines and elements of a group of four (4) identical houses, two of which are shown in the above montage, situated at the corners of the same crossroad. Each of these buildings have in their turn a symmetrical design, which is especially suited for situations when the building is located on a street corner as is the case here. I like the architectural play of diverse symmetries in this set up: one in the simple symmetry of each individual house and another in the multiple symmetry of the group of the four identical edifices mirroring each other across the street corners, which brings dynamism and enlivens this otherwise mundane crossroad.

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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.

1900s Roof Eave with Local Dissemination

Roof eave adorning an early 1910s trader's house in Buzau, eastern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

I photographed the above exquisite roof eave in the old commercial quarter of the city of Buzau in eastern Romania. It is a creation inspired from the roof eaves of the Buzau Commune Palace, built in a peculiar Art Nouveau – Neo-Romanian style in 1903, about which I posted a short video-article some weeks ago. There are also some vernacular elements used in this roof eave decoration, like the protruding fusaiolles on the horizontal arm of the eave, a decorative feature encountered throughout the old Ottoman Balkan realm, of which Buzau together with southern and eastern Romania have been once part. What I found very interesting is the quite wide dissemination of this type of roof eave (where the main distinguishing element is the circle sector taming the harsh right angle between the eave’s vertical and horizontal arms) throughout Buzau county area. It can be found adorning a number of old vernacular architecture houses in some of the local villages. I know that in my birth village, Goldeanu-Silistea, in southern Buzau county, that there are at least two houses (built in the early 1930s by local wealthy peasants) that use a variation of this type of roof eave. It represents a very interesting  phenomenon of architectural style transfer/ dissemination from a prestige edifice, built in a high architectural style, to the aspirational craftsman built houses belonging to wealthier and more educated local traders and peasants.

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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.