The Lush Vegetation & Sunburst Motifs of A Vanished Art Deco Panel

The lush vegetation and sunburst motifs Art Deco panel that embellished, until not long ago, a late 1920s apartment block in Bucharest; Opera area. (©Valentin Mandache)

The example above has been, in my opinion, one of the most picturesque and interesting Art Deco era building façade panels of Bucharest. It has vanished last year together with the rest of the quaint Art Deco style decoration of the building that hosted them for so many years after that edifice fell victim to the frenzy of ‘improvement’ works plaguing now Romania’s capital. These works are a city wide programme promoted by the mayoralty and heavily subsidised by the taxpayer aimed at ameliorating the thermal coefficient/ insulation of the local buildings. Although that seems a ‘green’ policy when taken at face value, it is in fact a major conduit through which many of Bucharest’s historic buildings are defaced or irremediably damaged with the concourse of the local authorities through programmes financed by taxpayer money. The scheme is enthusiastically embraced by the great multitude of ignorant property owners and tenants that populate this city. It is just one of the innumerable examples of badly thought policies affecting the architectural heritage of Bucharest. I wrote an article about this building and its plight last year (click for access here), a few weeks before all its Art Deco embellishings were rudely razed and thrown to the rubbish bin. In the autumn of 2009 I took another photograph of the newly ‘improved’ building, which I collated in the image bellow with a photograph of the old dwelling before the works took place. The proprietors are now probably very proud of the ‘modern’ look of their asset and convinced that the property value is much higher than when the strange  and useless, in their view, Art Deco panels were present there.

The Art Deco style apartment block before (upper half of the photograph) and after the 'improvement' works carried out by taxpayer subsidised contractors. The façade location of the decorative panel is indicated by the the 'x' mark within the blue circles. Photographs taken in 2009 (spring and early autumn). Opera area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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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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