Bucharest Fin de Siècle “Wagon” Type House

Fin de siècle "wagon" type house (1890s -1900s), built in what I call the "Little Paris" style (French late c19th styles provincially interpreted in Romania), very popular at that time in Bucharest. Calea Calarasi area. (©Valentin Mandache)

Some of the most picturesque and very specific for Bucharest houses are the small dwellings built at the turn between the c19th and c20th on the city’s former outskirts, which today are located quite centrally as the town expanded at an amazing rate in the last 110 years (I reckon that Bucharest had and still has one of the highest, if not the highest, rate of demographic growth among the major EU area cities in that time interval).  I already wrote about this type of house in its diverse fin de siècle decorative incarnations in the following posts:  1910s town house or picturesque decay house, etc. The house plan is very practical, having to adapt to the limitation of the small, expensive plots available for construction in Bucharest of that time. It usually had an oblong shape, able to fit into the strip like plot, with the short side facing the street. This type of dwelling is known locally as “wagon” house because of this more unusual long oblong shape with a narrow side yard, where also the entrance was also placed,  and a narrow street side. The example above is just such a ‘wagon’ house displaying a characteristic vernacular architecture that combines elements characteristic of a rural structure decorated with more urban looking c19th French inspired motifs, like the garlands and apparent key stones seen on the windows’ pediment. Another interesting architectural touch, present on many such buildings, is the rounded corner made by the street façade with the yard side of the house, as can also be seen in the photograph presented here. This type of house was very popular among the local public of the period, especially among the small merchant and state employee classes (policemen, clerks, teachers). Today these quaint period buildings, very specific for Bucharest, have the potential to constitute excellent renovation projects due to their usually small size, relatively basic and well preserved decorative registers and inexpensive structure.

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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.

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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.

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