CRITICAL REVIEW

George Cristinel gained notoriety in the interwar period by approaching architectural programmes that were uncommon at the time.  Namely mausoleums and tombstones dedicated to dead or missing soldiers who had disappeared in the battles of the World War I, but also sector city hall buildings in Bucharest.

In the language of the era, the mausoleum was a particular typology, something between funeral and religious architecture. The most suggestive example is that of the building erected on the site of the most glorious and bloodiest battle of the Romanian army in World War I, at Mărăşeşti. The mausoleum was designed by architects George Cristinel and Constantin Pomponiu, selected in a competition, in 1921.

At the initiative of the mayor of Sector IV Green, A. D. Mincu, George Cristinel and Nicu Georgescu designed an extremely important building for interwar Bucharest, the only building originally designed as a sector city hall, the one at 9-15 Banu Manta Blvd., housing today Sector 1 City Hall. It was built between 1928 and 1936. When finished, this was the tallest building in the capital, its tower measuring 56 m.

In mid-1930s we can identify a synthesis between academic modernism and Art Deco, visible in the attenuation of classic monumentality through rationalist tendencies that are the expression of a self-imposed austerity, as a result of the global economic crisis between 1929 and 1933. This formula can be found in some buildings in Bucharest, but particularly in public buildings in Transylvania, with the purpose of showing the power of Great Romania, yet without a shocking monumentality. The headquarters of ’’Prima Ardeleană” Society and the Romanian Orthodox Normal School („Andrei Șaguna” Architecture Highschool), both in Sibiu, and the „Regele Carol al II-lea” Academic College in Cluj, are such buildings built by George Cristinel.

Mariana CROITORU (2016)
 


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    BIOGRAPHY

    (Bucharest, January 27, 1891 - Bucharest, 1961)
     
    Academic/specialized studies
    1909-1913 - Special School of Architecture in Paris.
     


    PROJECTS


    COMPLETED PROJECTS

    Architectural projects
    Public buildings
    1913 - Superior School of Commerce, Brașov;
    1924 - Bank of Commerce, Brăila;
    1928 - Chrissovelony Bank, Brăila;
    1929 - ’’Albina” Bank, Edgar Quinet Street, Bucharest (converted);
    1932 - Sf. Nicolae church, Cluj;
    1928-1936 - Sector IV Green City Hall (currently the city hall of sector 1), Banu Manta Blvd., Bucharest (in collaboration with arch. Nicu Georgescu);
    1933 - Food market, Călărași;
    1934 - Palace of ’’Generala” Society, Bucharest (converted);
    1935 - Normal School for boys, Sibiu;
    1935 - Ferdinand I Academic College, Cluj;
    1935 - Building of ’’Prima Ardeleană” Society, Sibiu;
    1936-1945 - Residential ensemble, apprentice hostel and administration centre, Câmpia Turzii;
    1948-1955 - ’’Industria sârmii” metallurgical plant, Câmpia Turzii.
     
    Houses
    1930-1934 - Buildings: N. Dinescu, A. Rainu, George Cristinel, Bucharest;
    1931 - Prof. Dr. Mezincescu villa, Sinaia.
                        
    Religious architecture
    1923-1933 - Orthodox cathedral in Cluj (in collaboration with arch. Constantin Pomponiu);
    1922-1939 - Mausoleum in Mărășești (in collaboration with arch. Constantin Pomponiu);
    1933 - Străjescu family vault, Cimitirul Bellu cemetery, Bucharest;
    1934 - Chapel and Orthodox Metropolitan Library, Sibiu;
    1937 - Crypt in Mărăști.
     
    Interior works
    The interior of the city hall of Sector IV Green is an extremely suggestive expression of the Neo-Romanian style, unlike the exterior and most Neo-Romanian buildings of the period, whose interior tends to mirror modernism, while the exterior is a pure expression of the national style. The murals in the council hall are remarkable. This work belongs to Olga Greceanu, who was designated to paint the murals because she was an outstanding personality of the interwar art, which she tried to introduce in the European context. The paintings depict Romanian voivodes holding in the palm of their hands the small scale version of the buildings (churches or monasteries) they erected (Mircea cel Bătrân and Cozia Monastery, Neagoe Basarab and Curtea de Argeș Monastery, Mihai Viteazul and Mihai Vodă church in the capital, Vasile Lupu and Trei Ierarhi church in Iași, and Radu Negru and the Metropolitan church in Târgoviște). There are similar paintings on the upper part of the facade of clock tower.

    In spite of their beauty, all the paintings at the city hall of Sector IV Green were covered with plaster by communists immediately after the war, in the late 1940s, but were cleaned in 2005.
     
    Competitions. Awards and distinctions
    1921 - 1st prize and work execution, the competition for Mărășești Mausoleum (in collaboration with arch. Constantin Pomponiu);
    1923 - 1st prize and work execution, the competition for Orthodox Cathedral in Cluj (motto: H.R.I.) – in collaboration with arch. Constantin Pomponiu;
    1927 - 1st prize and work execution, the public competition for the Bucharest city hall building (in collaboration with arch. Nicu Georgescu).
     


    BIBLIOGRAPHY


    Books
    CONSTANTIN, Paul, Dicţionar universal al arhitecţilor, Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică, Bucureşti, 1986.
    TABACU, Gabriela, Revista „Arhitectura” - studiu monografic şi indici 1905-1944, Editura Humanitas, Bucureşti, 2008.
     
    Historical studies
    DERER, Anca Hanna, „Imobilul din bulevardul Banu Manta numărul 9-15, București. Primăria Sectorului 1, inițial Primăria Sectorului IV Verde – Identificarea resursei culturale prin prisma elementelor esențiale din evoluția istorică – Studiu de fundamentare pentru intervenții viitoare”, May-June 2010, Bucharest.
     
    Magazines
    Colecția revistei „ARHITECTURA”, 1918-1943.