CRITICAL REVIEW

During the interwar period, the Neo-Romanian style had, indeed, a smaller scale magnitude than before the World War I, and this was obvious in residential architecture as well. In this category, buildings gained in size after 1918, which led to a new typology of apartment buildings, designed in the national style. The influence of folk art in these buildings is less visible. In this regard, the return to vernacular architecture is rather rare and is confined to using wooden elements in loggias and balconies.

Architect Arghir Culina probably designed the most acclaimed apartment building of 1920s, located on Hristo Botev Blvd. (formerly Domniței), in Bucharest. It was owned by the architect himself, has no less than eight floors, was built between 1923 and 1928 and represents a remarkable technical advance for the era. The building has a sober look that highlights the remarkable qualities of concrete and other modern materials. Its sober appearance is softened by unusual combinations of concrete and wood and its decorative elements that make it resemble some similar constructions in the capital of France. On the ground floor there are commercial spaces, while the flats on floors I-IV were for rent. Inside, the elevator of the interwar period is still there, as well as the stairwell finishing and some woodwork elements. Also, behind the building, in the courtyard, the architect built an eclectic style house with one floor, where he lived with his wife, Didona, after all his other properties had been nationalized by the communist regime. Despite having been designated the ’’official style’’ of Greater Romania, Neo-Romanian is gradually abandoned in the construction of public buildings because the new trend responded much better to the functional needs of the 1930s.

The first Art Deco works in Romanian architecture appear almost simultaneously with internationalist modernism, in the third decade of the last century. Although an expression of modernity, contrary to traditionalism, Art Deco is much easier received in Romanian society than the international modernist style, even though the movement is, in fact, a manifestation of modernism. Like the latter, Art Deco found its most appropriate background of manifestation in major cities: Bucharest, Ploiești, Constanța, but also in the Black Sea resorts. This is easily explained considering the areas of activity that the trend began to leave its mark on: tourism, theatres, entertainment, transport, trade, and housing (rental properties and villas). From this point of view, major cities and the seaside are important tourist destinations, trade hubs and major components of land transport networks. Also, major cities include extensive residential neighbourhoods and the coastline is the appropriate place for many holiday homes. Gradually, however, Art Deco proved its versatility and adapted to all architecture programmes, representative or domestic, monumental or utilitarian, thereby contributing to homogenizing the entire built framework.

Consistent with the areas in which the new style had manifested at its debut, the first Art Deco buildings were hotels (Lido, Negoiu, Union, Ambasador), and architect Arghir Culina designed them in 1930s.

Mariana CROITORU (2016)
 


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    BIOGRAPHY

    (Grámos, Greece, July 15, 1883 - Bucharest, 1972)
     
    Academic/specialized studies
    1909 - Attended the Superior School of Architecture in Bucharest, graduating this year.
     
    Professional activity
    1909-1917 - Architectural designer for various architects;
    1917-1946 - Architect in the Ministry of National Economy;
    1920-1948 - Architect for the „Dacia România” Insurance Society;
    1950-1955 - Main architect for Romanian Academy of RPR;
    1956-1966 - Head of work site at the Technical Office of the Romanian Academy of RPR.
     
    Other relevant information
    Died in 1972 and was incinerated at ’’Cenușa” Crematory in Bucharest.
     


    PROJECTS


    COMPLETED PROJECTS

    Urban planning and landscaping projects
    1923 - Haralambie Botescu Monument, Popa Tatu Street, at the corner of Berzei Street, Bucharest;
    1924 - ’’Avântul Ţării” Monument, Walter Mărăcineanu Square, Bucharest.
     
    Architectural projects
    Public buildings
    1912-1913 - Cişmigiu (Palace) Hotel, 38 Regina Elisabeta Blvd., Bucharest;
    1920-1922 - Student Dormitory of the Faculty of Medicine, 48 Splaiul Independenţei, Bucharest;
    1923 - Garage (fost Mihăescu), 36 Dr. Iacob Felix Street, Bucharest;
    1927 - Muntenia (Paris) Hotel, 21 Academiei Street, Bucharest;
    1931 - Union Hotel, 11 Ion Câmpineanu Street, Bucharest;
    1928-1929 - Negoiu (Stănescu) Hotel, 13 Ion Câmpineanu Street, Bucharest;
    1935 - Opera (Liric) Hotel, 37 Ion Brezoianu Street, Bucharest;
    1936-1937 - Ambasador Hotel, 10 General Gheorghe Magheru Blvd., Bucharest;
    1937-1938 - Ministry of Industry and Trade, 133 Calea Victoriei (demolished in 2010).
     
    Houses
    1911 - The house of the director of Letea society, Brașov;
    1928 - Grigore Coandă house, Pitești;
    1935 - Popescu Hotel, Craiova;
    1909 - Tanoveanu  house, 6 Câmpineanu Street, Bucharest;
    1910 - Dr. Gherson house, 8 Dionisie Lupu Street, Bucharest;
    1912 - Nicolaescu house, 6 Alexandru Alley, Bucharest;
    1916-1918 - Aurel Mincu villa, 60 Dacia Blvd., Bucharest;
    1912 - Eng. Ficșinescu house, 11 Lascăr Catargiu Blvd., Bucharest;
    1913 - Petrescu house, Luigi Cazavillan Street, at the corner of General Berthelot Street, Bucharest;
    1923 - Painter Kimon Loghi’s workshop-house, 8 Viişoarei Street, Bucharest;
    1923-1928 - Apartment building, 3 Hristo Botev Street, Bucharest;
    1929 - Apartment building, 5 Ferdinand Blvd., Bucharest;
    1929 - Apartment building, 24 Elisabeta Blvd., Bucharest;
    1928-1929 - Building of ’’Dacia România” Insurance Society, 44 Regina Elisabeta Blvd., Bucharest;
    1930 - Villa, 39b Alexandru Alley, Bucharest;
    1930-1932 - Villa Eng. Emil Prager, 47 Paris Street (Quito Square), Bucharest;
    1931 - Apartment building, 35 Kogălniceanu Street, Bucharest;
    1931-1933 - Apartment building of ’’Dacia România” Insurance Society, 36 Cantacuzino Street, Bucharest;
    1933-1934 - Building for the pensioners of ’’Dacia România” Insurance Society, 41 Calea Şerban,
    Bucharest;
    1939 - Apartment building, 43 Calea Dorobanților, Bucharest.
     
    Restoration projects
    1911-1912 - Capitol (Louvre) Hotel, 29 Calea Victoriei, Bucharest.
     
    Competitions. Awards and distinctions
    1926 - 3rd prize, competition for ’’The venue of the Association of Mining Engineers”;
    1942 - Awarded the order of ’’The Star of Romania”, officer rank (by King Mihai I).
     


    BIBLIOGRAPHY

    Books
    CONSTANTIN, Paul, Dicţionar universal al arhitecţilor, Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică, Bucharest, 1986.
    CRITICOS, Mihaela, Art Déco sau modernismul bine temperat/ Art Déco or well-tempered modernism, Editura Simetria, Bucharest, 2009.
    TABACU, Gabriela, Revista „Arhitectura” - studiu monografic şi indici 1905-1944, Editura Humanitas, Bucharest, 2008.                                              
    VASILESCU, Sorin, Dicționarul arhitecților moderni și contemporani,Bucharest, Editura Institutului de Arhitectură „Ion Mincu”, 1990.
     
    Archives
    B.A.R.: „Album foto Arh. Arghir Culina” (family donation).
     
    Webography
    https://issuu.com/dictionaruar/docs/dictionar_arhitecti_si_cladiri_ac_u