Ocean liner theme Art Deco house

Art Deco style house dating from first half of the 1930s, Matei Basarab area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The Art Deco house presented in these photographs is at first sight a unassuming Bucharest 1930s dwelling, but at a closer look it reveals a few interesting traits that give it personality. The design theme is that of the ocean liner, popular on the architectural scene of Romania’s capital of that era, among a public lusting to travel to exotic places in the southern seas, far away from their dull environment in the middle of the  Lower Danube Prairie, in winter exposed to frigid Siberian weather-fronts. The house sits on a small plot of land in a high density habitation area, a situation that no doubt impedes the full appreciation of its design theme.

What drew my attention, was the two more unusual motifs associated with the ocean liner theme, seen in the pictorial signs on its street and courtyard façades, which I marked in the above photograph with red encirclings for better visibility. The street one signifies a boat passenger sitting atop the bow of a liner crossing the ocean waves, while the lateral pictogram symbolises a traveller resting on a coach or getting up from a bed, marking the cabins’ area of the port side of the boat.

Art Deco style house dating from first half of the 1930s, Matei Basarab area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Other obvious elements making up the ocean liner theme are the well proportioned staircase tower symbolising the command deck of the ship, embellished with a tall and narrow window where one can detect the motif of sunrise and sunset in its ironwork decoration. There is also a porthole window, unusually positioned at the base of the tower, because of the constricted available space. The assembly is crowned by a flag pole, another important motif of the ocean liner theme panoply.

On the whole, the house, is in my opinion a telling example of how omnipresent the Art Deco style and its themes were among the Bucharest people of those times, and a testimony of the imaginative ways through which the local architects expressesed their clients aspirations.

Art Deco style house dating from first half of the 1930s, Matei Basarab area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Art Deco style house dating from first half of the 1930s, Matei Basarab area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

2 thoughts on “Ocean liner theme Art Deco house

  • Do you have a nautical suggestion for the four horizontal bands attached to the flagpole? Please explain. Thank you.

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    • Normally there should be three horizontal bands attached to the base of the flagpole, in accordance with the “rule of three” in Art Deco. In this case there are four. The theme suggested to me in this case is that of a bar ladder along the funnel of an ocean liner (the staircase tower can be interpreted as a funnel). It might have another nautical meaning too, of which I am not aware at this time. Regards.

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