Communities, political traditions and architectural heritage: Floreasca bus garage

The Floreasca quarter from north-east Bucharest is a somehow newer area of the city, properly developed starting with the inter-war period, settled in important proportion by skilled workers employed in Romania’s capital industries and services. Starting with the mid-1930s, the quarter also attracted intellectuals and successful small business owners who built their dwellings there. The skilled workers of Bucharest and Romania in general form a critical social segment with a very interesting identity, social and political history, which has barely been studied by the specialist academics or other type of writers. These people were educated in the inter-war period in good technical schools, which also provided them with well structured lessons of national history and literature. They were also politically active in the social democratic and Marxist inkling movements of their period, still nowadays maintaining that tradition and political affiliation in communities with established identities such as is the case with the Floreasca quarter of Bucharest. I found, during my study trips in the area, that the local bus garage, seen in the photograph bellow, epitomises within its architecture and symbols, the political traditions and identity of that community.

Floreasca bus garage, late 1930s, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The architecture of this structure is typical of the late 1930s industrial architecture, with Modernist overtones, similar with examples from that period from western Europe, inspired from the models of airplane hangars of that time. A reader, who is the author of the blog Simply Bucharest, indicated on the Romanian version of this blog a newsletter published by the Bucharest Public Transport Enterprise- “Muncitorul ITB”, which indicates the 1949 – ’50 as the construction date of this edifice. It was designed by architect N. Nicolescu, who obviously followed a manner of design typical of the late 1930s – early 1940s, free of Soviet design influences, which started to be heavily promoted at that time in Romania.

Floreasca bus garage, painted sign of the communist era slogan "Proletarians of all countries, unite!", Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

During the communist period, between 1948 – 1989, the garage, as all public institutions in the country, were decorated with communist slogans, such as is the one still surviving on one of its gable rims, seen above, reading “Proletarians of all countries unite!” The fact that the painted sign still survives after the bloody Romanian anti-communist revolution of December 1989, more than two decades ago, is a telling testimony of the deep social democratic and Marxist traditions of the local community.

Floreasca bus garage, gable composed from glass bricks, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

I very much like the sleek architecture of the garage, which must have looked during its heydays as a thoroughly high tech edifice. The building, if properly restored to its former glory, would be an excellent architectural focus point for the Floreasca quarter and Bucharest. In the photograph above is a fragment of one of the the glass brick gables. Its damages stem from water infiltrations throughout the years, which expanded and cracked the glass during the winter freeze.

Floreasca bus garage, the back wall, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

A most interesting occurrence are the appalling Nazi (swastikas) and football hooligan graffiti covering the back wall of the garage, which is a diagnostic sign of the actual state of the local community, namely of its younger members. If the older and established workers, benefited from a good education and have now secure jobs, continuing to cherish the left wing traditions of their community, their offspring on the other hand went mainly through the low quality education system of post-communist Romania and many are now jobless, developing in turn extreme right wing, nationalistic neo-Nazi views, a situation not entirely dissimilar with what is happening with the working class youths in the former East Germany or Russia. The battered old bus garage with its architecture, painted signs and graffiti is thus like a crystal ball in which we can read the shifting identities, evolution and travails of that community.

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

2 thoughts on “Communities, political traditions and architectural heritage: Floreasca bus garage

  • Hi Valentin loved the post about the bus garage. They are buildings that offer such great potential for adaptive re-use. Love the use of glass blocks. Last year I wrote about the Bakhmetevsky garage in Moscow, by Constantin Melnikov. Constructed in 1926, it has been converted to the Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture – but it required the patronage of one of the new Moscow elite for its conversion. Hopefully someone in Bucharest will do the same. BTW I obtained a copy of the book on Romanian Modernism by Machedon and Scoffham. What a wonderful city and very similar to Shanghai in lots of ways. Must break your heart when you see what has been lost.

    As always, best wishes Robin

    about the Bakhmetevsky garage in Moscow, bu Constantin Melnikev

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    • Thank you Robin for the data about the Bakhemetesvky garage in Moscow! Bucharest is still having some way until the industrial buildings will be properly appreciated as heritage landmarks and structures that can have new, imaginative uses. I am glad you’ve got Machedon & Scoffham’s book, in my opinion it is the best writing available on that fascinating subject. Your comparison of Bucharest with Shanghai is very intriguing for me who has never travelled to that area and have basic knowledge about it; it is an incentive to plan a trip there in the future! Valentin

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