Cover image for Romanian modernism : the architecture of Bucharest 1920-1940
Romanian modernism : the architecture of Bucharest 1920-1940
Machedon, Luminița.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xix, 407 pages : illustrations, maps, plans ; 27 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
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NA1428 .M33 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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This is the first book in English to reveal the extent to which modern architecture flourished in Romania--and is still visible as a neglected and almost forgotten past amid the contradictions of present-day Bucharest.

The return to Romania of avant-garde intellectuals from abroad during the 1920s stimulated radical changes that permeated and transformed Romanian society. During the 1930s Romania's cultural, technical, and artistic achievements rivaled those of Western Europe and in some respects surpassed them. This is the first book in English to reveal the extent to which modern architecture flourished in Romania--and is still visible as a neglected and almost forgotten past amid the contradictions of present-day Bucharest.Luminita Machedon and Ernie Scoffham focus on Bucharest between the two world wars. They show how the Dadaist Marcel Janco and others influenced the adoption of progressive policies, including the city's Master Plan of 1934, which became one of the most forward-looking plans in Europe and served the city's administration until well after the Second World War. Much of the text is based on archival research in Bucharest, on the journalism of the period, and on a small number of critical publications, both during the interwar years and since. Most of the period illustrations have never been published outside of Romania, and some are being published here for the first time. Included are photographs and drawings of buildings no longer in existence, as well as drawings of significant unrealized projects. The foreword is by Serban Cantacuzino, former editor of The Architectural Review and Secretary of the Royal Fine Art Commission in London. Published with the assistance of the Getty Grant Program.

Author Notes

Luminita Machedon is a principal architect with Project Bucharest, in Bucharest. Ernie Scoffham is Reader in Urban Architecture at the University of Nottingham, UK.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In the annals of the International Modern movement, Romania does not occupy a prominent position; but Machedon's volume demonstrates that Romanian architecture, primarily in Bucharest, showed remarkable innovation in design during the period 1920-40. After brief chapters on theoretical writings and major architects, the author presents chapter surveys of architectural types ranging from apartment houses, offices, and state buildings to industrial architecture. The longest chapter is devoted to the design of modernist villas, urban and suburban. These sections are profusely illustrated, largely by excellent period photographs that give the impression of a bright and prosperous democratic enclave. In fact, Romania was riven with social contradictions and serious economic disparities between city and country. Although there is a concise survey of historical events leading to the formation of modern Romania, there is little discussion of the social and political context of the interwar decades, which concluded with the penetration of the country by the Third Reich. The book also seems to have lacked a consistent copyediting policy. Extensive sections of the text read like a rough translation. Fortunately, a strong selection of photographs amplifies the descriptive material in this densely informative volume. Researchers; faculty; professionals. W. C. Brumfield; Tulane University

Table of Contents

Serban Cantacuzino
Foreword On Being Romanianp. viii
Prefacep. xx
Acknowledgmentsp. xxii
1 Introductionp. 2
2 Independence and Unificationp. 10
Historical Contextp. 11
Urban and Architectural Contextp. 21
3 Pioneers of Modernismp. 32
Marcel Janco and the Avant-Gardep. 33
Horia Creanga and the Modern Agep. 50
4 Manifestations of Modernismp. 58
Theories and Publicationsp. 59
Aesthetic Expressionp. 66
5 City in a Gardenp. 74
Theoryp. 78
Legislationp. 81
Practicep. 82
6 Democratic Housingp. 102
Low-Cost Housingp. 108
7 The Villap. 112
8 The Apartment Buildingp. 162
Tache Ionescu-Ion C. Bratianu Boulevardp. 166
Apartment Buildings Elsewherep. 190
9 Public Programsp. 234
Culture and Welfarep. 237
Economic Investmentp. 255
Public Administrationp. 271
10 Munca si Voe Buna (Work and Joy)p. 284
Industrial Buildingsp. 285
National and International Exhibitionsp. 296
11 Liberationp. 310
Notesp. 324
Illustration Creditsp. 344
Bibliographyp. 348
Architects and Their Worksp. 362
Indexp. 390