Building inauguration years rendered architecturally

Building inauguration year in architectural renderings
Building inauguration year in architectural renderings (©Valentin Mandache, Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca)

The photo-collage above is composed by building inauguration year panels rendered architecturally, encountered by the author of this blog on edifices dating from a multitude of historical epochs in Bucharest and other locations in Romania. I used the illustrations as cover photographs for the Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca’s Facebook page. I usually present to the readers a cover photo per week, and the ones here are those scheduled for the first ten weeks of 2014. To find out details about the significance of those years and the buildings hosting them, you can click the links listed below. The links are arranged in the same scheme as the architecturally rendered years mentioned in the collage.

1900 : 1569

1894 : 1666

1724 : 1857

1908 : 1889

1898 : 1879

De Stijl and Constructivist forms in the hallway of Frida Cohen House

Among the hidden architectural gems of Bucharest are the Modernist creations of Marcel Iancu (also spelt Janco or Janko), the culture polymath active on the architectural scene of Romania’s capital in the 1920s and the 1930s. Iancu’s buildings encompass his conceptions of art ranging from surrealism, as he was one of the foreruners of that current, Soviet inspired constructivism, functionalism to cubism, Bauhaus or expressionism. The Frida Cohen House, an apartment block, the amplest edifice designed by Iancu, exhibits many of those traits and for me is a delight to continuously discover new such elements with each visit I make there.

Frida Cohen House, arch. Marcel Iancu, 1935, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
Frida Cohen House, arch. Marcel Iancu, 1935, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The constructivist and cubist features are obvious when analysing the exterior outlines and volumetry of Frida Cohen building, yet equally if not more fascinating patterns reveal themselves once one steps into the entrance hallway.

Frida Cohen House, arch. Marcel Iancu
Frida Cohen House, arch. Marcel Iancu, 1935, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Remarkable in my opinion is the floor with its grey and black tiles, arranged in a modern painting like figure, in the vein of the De Stijl artistic movement, where the forms although lack simple symmetry, as one would expect in an architectural design, nevertheless achieve a sense of balance through their inner kinetics.

Frida Cohen House, arch. Marcel Iancu
Frida Cohen House, arch. Marcel Iancu, 1935, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The main staircase of this noteworthy building is also a case in point, this time as an example of constructivist design, where the profile of the apparently utilitarian device is an equilateral triangle, a basic geometrical shape, seen, as other fundamental forms, within the Constructivist movement as a pure pattern. The staircase reminds me of one of Iancu’s celebrated affirmations that “the purpose of architecture was a “harmony of forms”, with designs as simplified as to resemble crystals” (Tom Sandqvist, p. 342). To me the crystal suggested by the stairwell contour is undoubtedly a diamond (the tetrahedron of Carbon atoms), which is a metafora for perfect harmony in itself.

Every single creation of Marcel Iancu is, as in the samples illustrated  above, brimful with meanings and symbols pertaining to the the emergence and maturation of the first Modern artistic currents, fostered by epoch making social and economic changes in the period that led up to the Great War and its aftermath decades, a fertile and effervescent period of which Bucharest benefited through the agency of such a hugely talented personality.

A happy 2014!

I would like to thank all my readers, collaborators, participants at my architectural history tours and courses for the active support, encouragement, comments, contribution and criticism without which I would not have coped in what I consider my ongoing mission to bring to the attention of the wider world Romania’s and Southeast Europe’s architectural heritage and period property market. I wish you all the best for 2014!

Valentin Mandache, expert in historic houses

Greetings for 2014!
Greetings for 2014!

King Michael’s forced abdication: lessons from a letter

History and historical facts discussed over the envelope of a letter sent from Bucharest to Paris in February 1948, just a few weeks after the forced abdication of King Michael of Romania. The envelope contains a two sets of stamps, one from the just ended royal period and another form the newly installed communist regime, constituting a good material witness of a watershed event in Romania’s history.

Architectural tour in central Bucharest for the President of Croatia

His Excellency Mr. Ivo Josipović, the President of Croatia, and Valentin Mandache, the author of Historic Houses of Romania – Case de Epoca blog, 1 July ’12, Bucharest

I had the great honour today to show and talk about the historic architecture of central Bucharest to the President of Croatia, His Excellency Mr. Ivo Josipović. There is a year since I started architectural tours of the capital and other Romanian cities and I hope that my explanations gave to the high guest a good round up image about the history of this metropolis’ built landscape in its multifaceted aspects, from social, economic, to the geopolitical one. Mr. President is a high calibre intellectual, a lawyer by training and noted composer of classical music, which made my task to communicate the knowledge a real pleasure, and at the same time challenging through the multitude of punctual and contextual details which I had to provide.

The 10 most popular Historic Houses of Romania articles in February 2012

  1. Bucharest 1900s architectural ironwork
  2. The NEO-ROMANIAN ARCHITECTURAL STYLE: a brief guide on its origins and features
  3. ART DECO Bucharest building damaged through ignorance and avarice
  4. Earthquake Events in Bucharest and Their Effect on Historic Houses
  5. Glazed ironwork entrance from the La Belle Époque years
  6. Lilac leaf shaped Art Nouveau windows
  7. Art Deco magazine covers
  8. Bucharest 1930s skyline
  9. Bucharest Neo-Romanian style windows
  10. Neo-Romanian style picture frames

I am happy to report that the blog Case de Epoca – Historic Houses of Romania goes from strength to strength, as the site statistics for February 2012 wholesomely show. I again had 20,000 unique readers from all over the globe, the leading countries being the United States, Romania, United Kingdom, India, Russia and Australia. Bellow is a distribution map of my blog’s readership in the last few months. Needless to say that the coverage achieved by Historic Houses of Romania is unmatched by any of Romania’s architectural, cultural tourism or property market magazine, publications that have many employees, funded by press trust money.

Case de Epoca - Historic Houses of Romania readers' distribution map, 1 March '12

Chronicle of the 17 and 18 Dec. ’11 architectural tours

The first photograph bellow shows a quite enigmatic identity message within a decorative panel embellishing the façade of an early 1930s house located in Kisselef area of Bucharest, which was among the buildings examined during my thematic architectural tour entitled “The Late Neo-Romanian Style” on Saturday 17 Dec. ’11. The second photograph presents most of the participants at the Sunday 18 Dec. ’11 architectural walking tour in the Cismigiu historic area of Romania’s capital.

"The Late Neo-Romanian Style" - Saturday 17 Dec. '11 architectural tour: identity panel on Neo-Romanian style house, dating from the early 1930s, Kisselef area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The Saturday tour started on a quite unpromising rainy weather, which was probably the reason why the participation came from Ireland, with no natives at all🙂 However the conditions improved less than half an hour into the excursion, when we benefited from beautiful sunbursts through clouds crossing Bucharest’s sky. We had the opportunity to examine a great multitude of Late Neo-Romanian style houses, concentrated in the Kisselef area of the city, rounding up our image about this particular phase in the development in Romania’s national architectural style, which unfurled between the late 1920s and the end of the 1940s. As the tour came to a close, the intriguing panel presented here came in our view. It contains the representation of a tree from whose trunk springs out a human arm holding a bucket, having on the other side something looking like a stack of six spheres arranged like the dots on a dice face. This panel could be, in my opinion, a family coat of arms or even a Masonic symbol connected with the first proprietor of the house. I look forward for opinions from you, dear readers, who might have access to better information, to clarify that tormenting, for me, riddle!

"Cismigiu historic area" - Sunday 18 Dec. '11 architectural tour: excursion participants

The Saturday tour in Cismigiu quarter was well attended by a nationally diverse group (Australia, US, Ireland and natives of course). We benefited of a wonderful weather, with a bright sun and a crisp, clear atmosphere propitious to view intricate architectural details. The trip started at Izvor tube station, ending at the Romanian Classical Writers’ Round in Cismigiu Gardens, after an assiduous walk of over five kilometres in three hours, examining at close range a large number of exquisite historic buildings. The photograph shows us toward the end of the tour, all with quite happy faces in my opinion, myself exhibiting a bit of the effects of speaking almost continuously throughout in my quality as a guide. :)


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.


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 Contact page of this weblog.