ROMANIAN MODERNISM: the Architecture of Bucharest, 1920-1940.
London: MIT Press. 1999. [pounds]29.95
This book came out of an exhibition of the Romanian avant-garde in literature and the arts held in Bucharest in 1993, the architecture section of which proved to be something of a revelation to Western observers and subsequently travelled to London and Zurich. The result is a valuable addition to the scholarship of the Modern Movement and a superbly produced book with many of the original drawings and period illustrations published for the first time.
Having provided the historical and physical contexts, the authors devote separate chapters to the pioneers Marcel Janco and Horia Creanga, before discussing the various building types. They also discuss the Bucharest Master Plan of 1934-35 which they regard as 'unique in its rapid incorporation and transformation of the ideas of the Charter of Athens into a practical working tool'.
I have contributed a foreword on my father, G. M. Gantacuzino, who as a practising architect was by no means a wholehearted modernist but who became, as the authors acknowledge, the foremost architectural theorist for the avant garde.
It was Creanga who said 'our modern architecture springs from the general needs of the time and not from the pleasure of imitation'; and a topic that appears frequently in Janco's writings is the social role of modern architecture as an expression of democracy. But whereas the architects of the Modern Movement in Romania, as in Western Europe, embraced the idea of progress, of an architecture directed primarily at satisfying human needs, they also saw in the Modern Movement a continuity with the past in the simple lines and masses of both Byzantine and popular architecture. This was the reason why Romania's Modern Movement, unlike England's, was entirely home-grown. Romania today is again striving to take her place among the European democracies and this book is a distinct contribution towards this goal.
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|Publication:||The Architectural Review|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Nov 1, 1999|
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