The “Reconstruction” Period
Histories of architecture describe the period that lasted until the late 1950s as characterised by a need for returning to normalcy and rebuilding after the destruction of the war, a hypothesis which appears to be confirmed by the architectural production itself, which – through its most visible examples – gives the impression of a natural continuity, in line with the previous evolution.
On the one hand, with at least part of the pre-war investments being resumed, the architects who practiced before the war continued to design in their specific manner. After 1945, several important buildings were completed, each in a different style, from modernism to neoclassicism, with an emphatic classicist modernism in between: Banloc office building and the nautical club in Herăstrău (designed by Octav Doicescu), the Ministry of Finance (designed by Radu Dudescu), the CFR Palace (designed by Duiliu Marcu).
Perhaps more significant is the beginning of the quest for the functionalist generation, chiefly Mircea Alifanti and Ascanio Damian. Băneasa International Airport (1946, designed by M. Alifanti, A. Damian, N. Bădescu etc.), APACA textile factory (1947, designed by M. Alifanti, I. Ghica-Budeşti, V. Krohmalnic, H. Stern etc.), the exhibition pavilion on the shore of Lake Herăstrău (1948, designed by A. Damian and Şrulovici), the swimming pool and sports hall in Floreasca (1947, designed by Titus Evolceanu and Sofia Ungureanu), “Emilia Irza” Hospital and the Faculty of Civil Engineering (1950, designed by Grigore Ionescu) etc. – all display varied expression manners and vocabularies applied with more boldness than during the pre-war period, within a context of modernist free expression the age seemed to favour.
In the area of cheap housing, too, we witness a series of experimental modernist quests - workers’ neighbourhoods with standardised blocks of flats arranged along the heliothermal axis (Ferentari/Bucureşti, 1945-1947). Most housing projects, though, continue to be guided by less radical principles, being either a continuation of the old parceling (Şerban-Vodă, Steaua, Drumul Sării/Bucureşti) or putting forth smaller neighbourhoods modelled on the garden-city concept, with smaller-scale buildings (Steagul Roşu/Braşov, designed by N. Nedelescu, Fl. Teodorescu, T. Elian, D. Marinescu) or single-family buildings (Hunedoara, 1848, designed by Gusti, A. Moisescu, V. Perceac).
On the other hand, this image of a wise and natural continuity of both the previous local trends and the architectural developments in Western Europe (with, of course, the nuances we have mentioned) is, nevertheless, elusive. Also during this period, we witness a gradual ”nationalisation” of the profession (with everything it entailed for the design, theory, education and professional organisations) and the spreading of political control over its component fields (they are all sanctioned by the Plenary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and of the Council of Ministers on November 13th, 1952). At the same time, this is when the communist “mammoth” projects begin, with an eye to Moscow (the systematization of the Danube-Black Sea area, of the industrial areas of the Jiu Valley and Hunedoara, the grand hydropower projects etc.) but without much thought. Seen in this light, this period is the last breath of the synchronisation ethos, which used to be one of the main engines of the previous evolution towards a European architecture.