Freshly repaired Art Deco house façade

Bellow is a fairly good example of a freshly repaired and painted Art Deco house façade, a rare occurrence within the generally run down and much abused built landscape of Bucharest. Those improvement works were most probably performed by a developer, which erected a large commercial building just across the road from that house (in fact there is a row of Art Deco houses, all Art Deco and freshly painted) and was part of a deal by which the developer got the local house owners approval to build a taller and therefore more profitable edifice, although that would have impeded the quality of life in the area. That is a commonplace understanding encountered all over the place in Romania, where the property developers can bring to their side the local inhabitants promising them free repair works or infrastructure improvements. The case presented here is one of the happier such instances, which I hope will get more widespread as both the house owners and developers get more educated about the preservation of the local built heritage.

Art Deco style house, mid-1930s, Calea Victoriei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

However, I have some criticism regarding this repair: the choice of window frames, white plastic, is tacky and does not follow the scheme of the original ones, which were probably designed in three vertical panes, according to the Art Deco style’s rule of three. Also, the profile of the rainwater drainpipes should have been square or rectangular in tone with the shape of the balcony or other rectangular shapes found within the façade, the new pipes being just ordinary DIY shop stock artefacts.

Art Deco style house, mid-1930s, Calea Victoriei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The doorway is well preserved and necessitated only palliative paint touches to bring it back to life. I believe that repairing the façade of those houses was quite a cheap job for the developer, with maximum results regarding its higher objectives.

Art Deco style house, mid-1930s, Calea Victoriei area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The above picture presents the side of the dwelling, again quite well spruced up. The recently erected tall and large commercial building, from which this Art Deco house and its neighbours benefited in this auspicious way, is discernible in the background .

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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 Contactpage of this weblog.

4 thoughts on “Freshly repaired Art Deco house façade

  • I used to live in Brooklyn and in many areas of NYC as well there are areas that are historical districts and a very strict code. Perhaps the authorities can use these methods for the benefit of the city. For one, it gives tourism a huge boost! There still are constructions in these areas but they are limited in their scope and size, so not to contrast with the general architecture.

    I’m sure you have seen this all around the world, and that it works! Therefore I fail to understand why the people of Bucuresti fail to see this, or at least the majority. Perhaps the “prestige” of ultra-modern construction is seen as more valuable as opposed to historical preservation. The people are underestimating the value of their city if they just jumble these different architectures together and future generations will suffer (hard to imagine as it is already suffering).

    This is one reason why I always prefer to spend time in the countryside, la Ardeal, as opposed to the cities…

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    • The problem with the Romanian population, especially the urban one is that is an uprooted group: first or second generation town dwellers. They came into the cities in huge numbers during the communist industrialisation and the boom of 2000s and completely overwhelmed the old established urban communities. Therefore what you have now in Bucharest and other major industrial towns is a population of poorly educated immigrants from the countryside who forgot their roots and do not care at all about their new places in towns. They follow a cheap form of modernism, which is the most vicious and destructive from a heritage point of view. Things will get better when these “barbarians” will get more settled, a bit more accustomed with their urban environment and traditions and their children become native of of the place. That will take more than a generation. In conclusion, Romania’s situation is quite different from many other countries which benefited from a more organic development in that regard. VM

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  • Ce naiba?!?! Sorry, I agree that the houses in general do need sprucing up… But house next to office building next to house…… will not make Bucuresti look the the Paris of the East which she once was.

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    • This is unfortunately the process by which a large part of the period house stock of this city gets renovated or at least spruced up. That is a consequence of the lack of vision from the city authorities in charge with the built heritage and also the lack of education/ awareness in matters of architectural identity displayed by a majority of the contemporary Bucharest people. Until the day when the authorities have proper rules for the protection of the built heritage and functioning mechanisms to enforce them and the public genuinely cares about its architectural heritage, we have to be quite content with renovations such as those described in this article, which is at least prolong the life of the buildings, are reversible and make Bucharest look a bit less run down, as after an earthquake, that it generally is. VM

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