CRITICAL REVIEW

Nicolae Cucu is an architect who drew attention in the latter part of interwar modernism, and his projects represent a transition or rather a synthesis between epurated and academic modernism, on the one hand, and epurated modernism and Art Deco on the other hand. The two buildings illustrating these tendencies of the architect’s creation are the apartment building at 2 Splaiul Independenței, and the office and apartment building on Berthelot Street. The latter has two entrances, one from Berthelot Street and the other from Spiru Haret Street. The first one was designed for the Pension House of the Savings Bank, and the second for Opera Singers Pension House.

The building on Splaiul Independenței, where the architect lived (apartment 41 on the 7th floor), is defined by a classical, symmetrical composition, showing monumentality and solemnity, especially as far as the main façade is concerned, with its quasi-Doric accents. The four Doric columns are remarkable, extending on six floors, and so is the frieze with reliefs of the four gods of ancient Greece, two female - Demetra and Pallas - and two male - Apollo and Mercury.

The building on Berthelot Street, which was designed in collaboration with architect Ion Davidescu, conveys a purely modernist compositional logic, with specific Art Deco elements. The reinforced concrete skeleton is covered in uniform slabs of stone, and the facade is set apart by an inscription in classical letters, which can be considered one of the most beautiful throughout Bucharest. Also, the exterior is characterized by attention to detail and refinement of execution.

Mariana CROITORU (2016)


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    BIOGRAPHY

    (Sinaia, May 9, 1907 - Bucharest, 1994)
     
    Academic/specialized Studies
    1934 - Diplomat of Academy of Architecture in Bucharest (diploma no. 235);
    1935-1936 - Specialization internship in Italy as member of the Romanian School in Rome (sent there as a Fellow of the Commission of Historical Monuments);
    1937 - Diplomat of the Italian state with the work ‘’Locuințe medievale la Viterbo”.
     
    Teaching (disciples and influence)
    1946-1958 - Lecturer - teaching the course ’’Interior design architecture, furniture and decoration”;
    1967-1973 - Professor within the Department of Civil Engineering, coordinating the design activity of the technical phase of architectural projects in years II, III, IV and V;
    1948 - While doing volunteer work under the coordination of AGIR, he taught drawing and plan reading at the experimental technical school on the work site then called APACA;
    1957 - Within the Institute of Architecture he led the first scientific session of the institute’s students during the second scientific session for students in Bucharest.
     
    Professional activity: affiliations, administrative positions, committees
    1937-1949 - Architect in the C.F.R. Architecture Service, Ministry of Information, Exhibitions Service, and Ministry of Arts in Bucharest;
    1949-1953 - Architectural designer for the civil engineering design institute, Bucharest;
    1948-1968 - Architect, Bucharest Design Institute.
     


    PROJECTS


    COMPLETED PROJECTS

    Architectural Projects
    Public buildings
    1943 - Romania’s pavilion at the permanent exhibition of education, Geneva;
    1948 - Reconstruction after bombing of the southern wing of the Palace of the Republic and turning the whole building into the first museum of the Republic;
    1958-1962 - Heroes Monument in the struggle for the liberation of the people and homeland for socialism, in Carol Park, Bucharest (in collaboration with architects Horia Maicu, Dan Aurel, Ion Nămescu and Sebastian Moraru). The monument in Carol Park, designed as a necropolis, was also based on a simple monumental idea, employing five arches over a massively built, star-shaped volume. The monumental design is supported by the accuracy and structure of the details used to crystallize special materials in the work: red and black granite from Sweden, for exterior plating, and gold leaf mosaic from Italy, plating the interior dome of the necropolis.
     
    Houses
    1937 - The residential building and headquarters of the Actors and Opera Singers Pension House, General Berthelot Street, at the corner of Spiru Haret Street, Bucharest (in collaboration with Arch. I. Davidescu);
    1939 - The residential building of the CEC Pension House, 2 Splaiul Independentei, Bucharest;
    1936 - Stoenescu villa, 85 Știrbei Vodă Street, Bucharest;
    1939 - Vințu villa, Schitul Darvari Street, Bucharest;
    1940 - Prodanaff villa, Popovici Alley, Bucharest;
    1940 - Gaef villa, Roma Street, Bucharest.

    Interior architecture
    1943 - Interior decorations for a large collection of Romanian fine art exhibited in Kunsthalle, Berna (at the initiative of the Ministry of Propaganda, together with Zoe Ricci);
    1952 - Opera and Ballet Theatre, Bucharest; he designed the interior decoration, with an overview on furniture and lamps (in collaboration with Arch. Octav Doicescu);
    1972 - National Theatre, Bucharest, interior decoration (Arch. Horia Maicu’s work).
     
    PROJECTS NOT COMPLETED
    1955 - Energy Institute of RPR Academy;
    1955 - Electrotechnical Institute of RPR;
    1955-1968 - Proposals to systematize some markets, areas and districts in Bucharest (executed in collaboration with other architects working for Bucharest Design Institute).
     
    Competitions. Awards and distinctions
    1939 - 1st prize, National Academy of Physical Education, Bucharest, work not completed because of the war (in collaboration with Arch. C. Gherghiceanu);
    1947 - 1st prize, Romanian Opera House in Nicolae Bălcescu Square, Bucharest (in collaboration with Arch. Ascanio Damian);
    1954 - Awarded ’’The Order of Labour”, 3rd class;
    1959 - 1st prize, Heroes Monument in the struggle for the liberation of people and the homeland for socialism, in Carol Park, Bucharest (in collaboration with Archs. Horia Maicu, Ion Nămescu, Dan Aurel and Sebastian Moraru).
     
    Editorial activity
    1958-1973 - Courses: „Principii de decoraţie în arhitectură”, „Noţiuni asupra mobilierului”, „Compoziţie decorativă a pardoselilor” şi „Probleme de grafică arhitecturală – pictură în acuarelă”;
    1938 - „Studiul casei medievale din regiunea Viterbo”, Romanian School yearbook in Rome – Ephemeris Daco-Romana (a valuable and extensive work of 104 pages, very well received and appreciated by foreign specialists);
    1971 - ’’Alvar Aalto”, in the volume Mari arhitecți (UAR award);
    1974 - „Evoluția mobilierului locuinței” (UAR award).
     


    BIBLIOGRAPHY


    Books
    CONSTANTIN, Paul, Dicţionar universal al arhitecţilor, Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică, Bucureşti, 1986;
    CRITICOS, Mihaela, Art Déco sau modernismul bine temperat/ Art Déco or well-tempered modernism, Bucureşti, Editura Simetria, 2009;
    MACHEDON, Luminiţa, SCHOFFHAM, Ernie, Romanian Modernism (The Architecture of Bucharest, 1920-1940), Cambridge, MIT Press, 1999;
    TABACU, Gabriela, Revista „Arhitectura” - studiu monografic şi indici 1905-1944, Editura Humanitas, Bucureşti, 2008;                                
    VASILESCU, Sorin, Dicționarul arhitecților moderni și contemporani, București, Editura Institutului de Arhitectură „Ion Mincu”, 1990.
     
    Webography
    https://issuu.com/dictionaruar/docs/dictionar_arhitecti_si_cladiri_ac_u