Tour in east Cotroceni – Sunday 20 May

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Costache Negri fountain, east Cotroceni

Dear Readers,

I would like to invite you to an architecture history walk in one of the prestigious quarters of Bucharest, Cotroceni, its eastern, older, part, centred on the area between Dr. Nicolae Staicovici Street and Dr. Joseph Lister Street. This cultural excursion is open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of Historic Houses of Romania blog, for two hours, between 12.45h – 14.45h, on Sunday 20 May 2018.

I will be your guide through one of the best quality historic architecture areas of Romania’s capital, constituted from an array of exquisite Little Paris, Neoromanian, and Art Deco and Modernist style houses, intercalated with some alluring examples of Art Nouveau and Mediterranean. The eastern part of Cotroceni is also its oldest, containing one of the best preserved laid out property developments from the Fin de Siècle years. These edifices were built mainly by people belonging to the professional classes of Romania, especially medical doctors and army high echelon officers, of the La Belle Époque and interwar periods. They constructed their residences close by the former Royal Palace of Cotroceni, where the crown couple lived, today used as the Presidential Palace, and the Medical Sciences University, the most prestigious such institution in the south east of Europe, making the area one of the high status quarters of the capital. We will examine and admire the message and symbolism encompassed within designs created by a number of well known architects, like Jean Burcus or Peter Boico, and unearth layers of social and economic history underpinning the development of architecture of this quarter. I will show you how periods such as the prosperous years of the late 19th century or the oil export boom of the 1930s have left their imprint in the magnificence of the ornaments and details, but also how the Peasant Uprising of 1907, or the 1929-1933 Depression, have stunted the development of the area and diminished the aspirations of local patrons and their architects. Cotroceni is also populated by diverse species of  trees, which will give us an image of how a beautiful Bucharest quarter of yester-decades used to look, a sample of its environmental identity, a city renowned by its gardens and tree lined streets, before the urban agglomeration and decay of the communist and post-communist eras altered that charming character. All of this richness of detail is waiting to be discovered by you under my guidance as part of this cultural trail.

The tour costs Lei 70 (Romanian currency) per person, book by emailing v.mandache@gmail.com or using the comments section of this post. You will be informed of meeting place on booking.

I look forward to seeing you at the tour,

Valentin Mandache/ Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca, tel: 0040 (0)728323272

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Historic houses and old architectural details in east Cotroceni, Bucharest. ©Valentin Mandache
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Historic Houses of Romania walking tour in east Cotroceni

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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 Contact page of this weblog.

The metal roofing of the Little Paris style houses

A Little Paris style house, the provincial, western inspired architecture of Bucharest and many urban centres of the La Belle Epoque Romania, is as, a norm, provided with metallic roofing; sheets of metal seamed together, giving it a peculiar modern aspect for those times. This type of roofing is exceedingly safer in case of fire, compared with the traditional wooden shingle roofing of Bucharest houses. That material were highly inflammable, contributing to devastating fires, culminating with the Great Fire of 1847. That event made the authorities and the locals to look for safer materials. The change of architectural tastes from provincial Ottoman to Little Paris, was another reason for adopting the metal roofing. That became widely adopted only when the metal sheet materials for roofing became cheaper and accessible, which has happened after 1879, once the railway to the Habsburg town of Brasov was opened, and the products of the industrialised Austro-Hungary penetrated Bucharest’s and Romania’s markets. This video details this contorted process reflected in the mass adoption of metal sheet roofing for the urban dwellings of Little Paris style architecture in Romania’s capital.

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My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

Tour: the Wallachian (Brancovan) style

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to a walking tour on the subject of the unique to Romania, Wallachian architecture, also known as Brancovan, an enthralling artistic current of fusion between local Byzantine traditions, Islamic ones of the Ottoman Empire, together with European Renaissance and Baroque elements, an expression of this land being at the juncture of the European and the Oriental civilizations. It emerged in the Principality of Wallachia, chiefly in the 18th century, in an age of stability and prosperity for this frontier province of the Sublime Porte. Bucharest became firmly established as its capital in that period, and, as a result, is endowed with a great assembly of architectural monuments displaying this singular style.

The tour is scheduled to take place on Read more

Why the ocean liner theme characterises the Art Deco architecture of Bucharest?

I noticed, from my field trips, that Bucharest’s 1930s Art Deco architecture is characterised in an ample proportion by the ocean liner theme, in much larger degree than other capitals in central and southeast Europe. Why was that the case for a town at over 200 km distance from a seashore, and from a region and country that was landlocked for much of its history, without a seafaring tradition? There were a series of captivating economic, social, and sentimental/ emotional factors and personalities at play, which concurred in producing that result, detailed in this video.

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My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

A glorious Neo-Romanian style house in Ploiesti – Casa Radu Stanian

In this video I present the impressive mature phase Neo-Romanian style architecture Radu Stanian House in Ploiesti, 60 km north of Bucharest. The edifice is the result of three stages of construction, from before, then after the Great War, and in the 1930s. It used to house the marriage registry office of the town in the communist period and the 1990s. Today is in a derelict state, in grave danger of being irremediably damaged or even lost.

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

My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

CIA and KGB spying on each other in Bucharest

There can be made interesting connections between the Cold War spying and Bucharest’s historic architecture, and no better spot to do that is the site of the former US Embassy, a La Belle Epoque architecture compound, right behind the Intercontinental hotel, which used to host CIA operatives during the decades before 1989, and what was across the road from it, the former Association for Strengthening the Relationships with the USSR (ARLUS- the acronym in Romanian), a beautiful ocean liner themed Art Deco edifice, which offered a good watching post their KGB counterparts. To complete the set, there is in between them a Mediterranean style house, where the Romanian Securitate people were watching both the Soviet and American activities going on in those strange times. I have been a student in the 1980s right in that area, my faculty being next to the US Embassy, and felt on a daily basis the heavy atmosphere imprinted by that unusual Cold War situation.

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

My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

Presenting my brand new voice amplifier

An important part of my architectural education work is the guided tours on architectural styles, historic houses, heritage architecture areas of Bucharest, Romania and southeast Europe. The tours are by their nature conducted outdoors, in the midst of the community, with people getting about their business in noise generating cars, buses, trains, roadworks, etc. and is often hard to project my voice for the benefit of the participants to listen comfortably to the information I provide. That is why I have equipped myself with a voice amplifier, which will improve the delivery of my specialist speeches. The device is called “Smart”, designed by Voice Amplifier of Israel, a heavy duty voice amplifier from a country with a rich experience dealing with cultural tours, and came to me as a birthday present, which is next month, from my brother’s family in Canada- reflecting a truly global network, which is also the essence of my architectural history work.

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

My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.

Tour in Mantuleasa

Dear Readers,

This is an invitation to an architectural history tour in Mantuleasa quarter of Bucharest, open to all of you who would like to accompany me, the author of the Historic Houses of Romania blog, this Sunday 1 April 2018, between the hours 11.30h – 13.30h.

I will be your guide in this fabled part of the old city, much talked about in the novels of Mircea Eliade, one of the brightest writers and historians ever produced by Romania, who spent there his childhood and early formative years. The quarter used to be one of the most ethnically mixed areas of Bucharest, endowed with a very diverse and exuberant period architecture ranging from beautiful Brancovan style churches, some dating from the late c17th, picturesque French c19th historicist and Art Nouveau architecture to flamboyant inter-war Neo-Romanian and slender Art Deco and International Modernist style dwellings, all within the space of less than Read more

Tour in Batistei area

Walking tour in Batistei area of BucharestBatistei area – a fragment of the old Little Paris

Dear readers,

I would like to invite you to an architectural tour focused on Batistei area, one of the most charming old corners of central Bucharest, with many of its buildings dating from from the La Belle Époque period, in a wonderful Little Paris architecture, which is still imprinting this town’s identity, a place where one can also admire other brilliant designs such as Neoromanian, Art Deco and inter-war Modernism. The walk is scheduled to take place this Saturday 31 March 2018, between 11.30h – 13.30h. This cultural excursion could be of interest to any of you visiting Romania’s capital as a tourist or on business, looking to understand the character of this metropolis through discovering its peculiar and fascinating old architecture.

The Batistei area stretches east from the National Theatre neighbourhood to the confines of the Mosilor, constituting an important part of historic Bucharest. Its name comes from that of the church around which the parish has crystalised in medieval times, which in its turn is a place name meaning in old Romanian language a “swampy lake,” a testimony of the former local natural environment that has been taken over by the town’s inexorable development. The church is also one of the very few survivors there of the original Brancovan style architecture that embellished Bucharest during the times of the Ottoman rule, until the western styles, provincially interpreted, especially the Read more

Neo Romanian architecture seen as a Kondratiev wave

I found quite uncanny the fact that the Neo-Romanian style architecture has unfurled for a period of 60 years, which is the same as what economists term as a Kondratiev wave or cycle in the evolution of the economy and technology. The national style of Romania started in 1886 with the first house in that style, Casa Lahovary, which overlaps with the introduction of new building technologies such as industrially produced brick, steel beams, wrought iron, all on a background of feverish land speculation in the country and evolves in three stages following the Kondratiev phases of expansion, stagnation and recession, which for the Neo-Romanian style are the early, mature and late periods, each taking about two decades, just as Kondatiev’s phases. This video details the extremely interesting overlap between the evolution of the Neo-Romanian style and the Kondratiev wave, which occupied the period between the high Victorian epoch until the end of the Second World War, and what we can learn from that overlap.

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

My aim, through this series of blog articles, is to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania and Southeast Europe, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of world’s architectural history and heritage.

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

If you have a historic house project in Romania or other country in Southeast Europe, I would be delighted to advise you in aspects pertaining to its architectural history and ways to preserve as much as possible from its period fabric and aesthetics in the course of restoration or renovation works, or to counsel you with specialist consultancy work related to that project. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this website.