Streets: Brazilia, Washington, Lisabona
Andrei G. Ioachimescu, N.I. Georgescu
Mihail Varia, Alexandru Apolzan (football player for C.C.A. – Steaua), Ernest Grințeanu, Statie Ciortan
The third convention was signed by the Municipal Company for Low Cost Housing with the Ministry of Finance’s House of Savings, Credit and Aid in July 1914 and was intended to build a neighborhood for the officials of the Ministry of Finance and for those of the War Ministry.
Approval chronology and lotissement history
The land was located in Bonaparte Park, on the Dorobanți Extension (Herăstrău road), an area that was part of the second sector,fourth ring and occupied an area of 20,998 sqm. The Company had acquired that land in June 1912. According to the convention, the Municipal Company was to initially build 60 individual dwellings and perform public works such as leveling the land, opening and paving the streets and the sewerage system. If the project was to be successful, the two institutions would collaborate on a future project. Immediately after the signing of the convention, in December 1914, the Company sent the request for approval to the City Hall (headed by the Liberal Emil Petrescu), together with the plans of the lotissement. The additions that the Technical Commission required, such as the positioning of each dwelling on the plot and the types of houses to be built, postponed its approval, at first until April 1915, then until March 1916. Finally, the commission approved the lotissement, with the mention that the Company was not to build on the plots at the intersections, to leave room for a possible widening of the streets. Moreover, the city councilors considered that the Company had to reserve some plots for the construction of schools. The mayor advised the counselor to postpone the construction of schools and other public institutions buildings until the end of the war. Initially, the Nomenclature Commission decided that the streets should be named in memory of prominent personalities in the field of finance and economy, such as Menelas Ghermani (1834-1899, former Minister of Finance between 1888 and 1895), Dionisie Pop Marțian (1829-1865, statistician and economist ), Dimitrie Frunzescu (publisher of the Topographical and Statistical Dictionary of Romania, 1872) and Ion Ionescu de la Brad (1818-1891, agronomist and statistician), a decision that was not approved by the Communal Council. After the First World War, the streets were named Brazil, Lisbon, Washington and Brussels, in memory of Romania’s allies in the Entente.
The plan of the Finance District, signed by the architect Dimitrie Mohor, consisted in the construction by the Municipal Society of 60 dwellings until October 1916. The convention stipulated the construction of 20 types C (9,000 lei each), 20 type E (12,000 lei each) and 20 type F (15,000 lei). These last two types were more complex, with a price to match, getting to even three times higher than the prices originally proposed by the Company at the beginning of the reform. Subsequently, the architects replaced them with the similar types – I, II, III and IV . The numbering of 47 of the 60 plots also appears on the lotissement plans, probably the ones on which the sponsors decided the beneficiaries. The lotissement plan had two squares, and the intersections of the streets opened by this plane marked set backs of the plots to achieve better traffic visibility. By the summer of 1916, only eight of these homes had been completed, and their distribution confirms the new direction that the Company was taking – that of providing housing to the civil servants of the middle class. Among those who should have benefited from these houses were Petre Stoenescu-Dumitrescu, the president of the House of Economy, Credit and Aid of the Ministry of Finance (who lived on Calea Victoriei and had received two lots), Statie Ciortan, the chief architect of the Ministry of Finance, Ernest Grințeanu, Deputy Director of State Monopolies, or Dimitrie Dobrescu, General Manager of the Ministry of Finance. Most of them held important positions such as inspectors or general managers, and some of them already owned a house in the Grant lotissement. The convention signed in July 1914 (a few days after the beginning of the First World War) between the two institutions was probably intended to ensure the allegiance of Ministry of Finance officials during the conflict. The use of the Neo-Romanian style in the types E and F, much more complex than the previous ones, also confirms the professional ascent that these officials aspired to. The project was similar in many respects to Wekerle Telep, the project of the Ministry of Finance in Budapest, started in 1907 and which resulted in the building of nearly 3,000 homes until the war broke out.
Not only was the accommodation of the railways workers a priority for the national-liberal state, but also the continuation of housing construction for the personnel of the War and Finance ministries was of importance, and the Dorobanți parcel marked the resuming of the construction activity, albeit for a short time. Until 1916, the Municipal Company had built only eight houses in the Dorobanți lotissement. The agreement with the Ministry of Finance was not extended and as a result, the Credit House sold the rest of the unbuilt plots to its own officials, who were liable to build their houses in less than eight years. Thus, the new beneficiaries signed new contracts for a 20 years loan, the monthly interest was taken from their salaries, and the new owners could not sell the house nor carry out economic activities for eight years. At the same time, the Municipal Company continued the construction of housing for the Ministry of War. Thus, the Company received the approval of the town hall on October 16, 1920, for the construction of three type F and 11 type III C apartments, with a cellar, ground floor and floor tiling, made of bricks and covered with galvanized sheet-metal. The first six type III C apartments were built on Braziliei street, grouped around a square. They were two storey houses.
The architect of the Municipal Company, Dimitrie Mohor, ensured the uniformity of the lotissement by using common elements in the design of the new types, despite the diversification of the composition. This diversity was characterized by various types, placement of houses (set back from the street or placed on an alignment) or placement of the plot in the lotissement. The access to the house was through a hallway under the bellevue, marked by a buttress, an element common to all type III C houses. Some of the windows are finished in trilobed arches at the top, and the facades have frames or niches completed with arches in the console, which are recurring elements of the Neo-Romanian architecture. The symmetry of the semi-detached houses, together with the dialogue between the four bay windows of the houses placed around the square, gives privacy and elegance to the composition. On Brazilia Street, at the intersection with Washington Street, the architect withdrew the four (different from each other) buildings from the intersection, creating a discrete plaza, which continued the previous square. The explanation for this choice, emphasized by Sfințescu, was a clear reference to the concept of the city-garden: “Raymond Unwin has studied this issue in particular, and his more interesting solutions applied in the various city-gardens are given below. Thus, at the opening of one street into the next one, he enlarges the free space and the open view for traffic, setting the constructions back more than usual from the alignment and thus creating a true twin square, simplifying the problems of the building itself. This solution can have several alternatives”. These houses are derived from the previous models, with the same elements.
On Washington Street, Mohor designed the type F, characterized by a symmetrical composition and entrances on the side facade, as well as a bellevue above the entrance. The diversification of the typology in the Dorobanți lotissement has its explanation, most likely, in the desire of the new owners (officers from the Ministry of War) to individualize their houses and to promote their new social status. The officers who had received houses in this parcel had participated in the war, and providing housing was how the national-liberal state rewarded their loyalty. The streets of the parcel were paved with granite in 1923. According to the 1927 aerial photography, the Company had built the 46 semi-detached houses south of Lisabona Street, and the rest – north of this street, were under construction by the Ministry of Finance officials.
The Dorobanți lotissement was built for the officers of the Royal Army, and the houses were nationalized after 1948. Few descendants of the original inhabitants now live here. Only one of these homes was demolished-on Washington Street, and many of the homes were passed into the I.C.R.A.L. (Construction, Repair and Housing Administration Company), as is the case on 8 Lisabona Street, the former home of Traian Pârligas, one of the first beneficiaries in the lotissement. There was also some continuity, with the family of Officer Mihail Varia that still lives in the house.