Iancului and Victor Manu20/24
Streets: Victor Manu, Iancului, Competiției, Locotenent Anton Ionescu, Cloșani, locotenent Virgil Lazarovici, locotenent Bazar Romulus Niculescu, Laurențiu Claudian, George Folescu, Grigore Gabrielescu, Jean Athanasium Bozioru, Traian Grozăvescu, Leonar Nicolae, Vatra Luminoasă
Andrei G. Ioachimescu
Ion Țărușeanu, D. Ionescu, Horia Creangă
One of the largest lotissements of the Municipal Company, with over 600 houses, was the one in Iancului Road. The land was located to the north of Mărcuța dintre Vii street (the old name of the Vatra Luminoasă road) and it was bordered, on the east, with the Textile Factory, and on the north, with the Iancului Road.
The company submitted the lotissement plans to the Technical Commission in 1925, and the lotissement was approved by the City Hall in September 1925. Despite the approval, construction work began in 1929, with a series of changes to the lotissement and housing plans. The lotissement initially had an area of 74,700 sqm, but due to the opening of numerous streets (totaling 32,800 sqm), the remaining area was sufficient for the construction of less than 200 dwellings. In October 1930, the lotissement was paved “with cobblestone on the carriageway, concrete curb with tessellated faces and sidewalks with concrete slabs, on the projected street in Iancului Park”, and was to be completed in two months. Of course, the Company also carried out the construction works on these streets, together with the Bucharest Municipal Factories.
The dwellings of the Iancului lotissement were entirely designed by the architect Ion Țărușanu. Their construction probably began in 1930, and by 1933 only 30 semi-detached houses had been built (60 apartments). In 1935, the Communal Monitor mentioned the approval of the construction of 13 dwellings, all on Iancului street, four approved by the City Hall of the Second Black Sector and eight more on Vatra Luminoasă street, thus reaching 85 houses built. The houses had an average facade of 8 m and a depth of 20 m. From an architectural point of view, Țărușanu continued designing the same types: 102-with three rooms and a second floor and 203. The surfaces ranged between 42 and 64 sqm. According to Sfințescu, they had concrete foundations, they were made of brick, covered with eternite, and the carpentry was made of fir wood. At the intersections of streets A, B, C and D with the projected street the corner type can be observed, compulsory according to the construction and alignment regulations of 1928.
The streets bore provisional names of letters and were later renamed, at the initiative of the Hero Cult, in honor of Romanian heroes from the First World War. Thus, street A was renamed Maior Popescu Gheorghe (Competiției today), street B was called Lt. Anton Ionescu, street C bears the name of Lt. Radu Robescu, D became S. Virgil Lazarovici street, E street was S. Niculescu Bazar, F street was named Maior Dr. Laurenţiu Claudian street, and Projected street became Victor Manu street. The school building from the middle of the lotissement was called Butculescu Square. The streets were renamed in 1934: “Councilor N. Trestianu […] reminds the council that, in 1934, during a festivity attended by d. Mayor General Al. G. Donescu, a delegate of the “Cult of Heroes”, the Citizens’ Committee from the Iancului neighborhood and a very large public, the names of heroes were assigned to the streets of the Iancului neighborhood and its surroundings, emphasizing that the first signpost the new names was nailed by the very hand of the Mayor General”.
After the completion of the construction works, the Municipal Company sold the houses to state officials and workers. Most were in the army, or bank officials from P.T.T. and C.F.R., traders, engineers, but also bakers or blacksmiths. A house on Victor Manu street, with tow storeys and three rooms, would cost in 1935 410,000 lei, and one on C street, with two rooms and 163 sqm, started at 325,000 lei. After 1935, the Company began the construction and extension of the lotissement, beyond the Textile Factory, with another 100 dwellings. The first of these were built on Iancului Road and on the first street parallel to Iancului, opened on this occasion: C Street (Grigore Gabrielescu). In total, on these two streets, the Company built, based on Trajanescu’s plans, 28 coupled houses, respecting the corner house typology. The lotissements of the Company built between 1927 and 1935 meant the construction of another 500 homes, both in the already started and in newly opened lotissements. The 500 homes were added to the existing 1,650. In total, the 2,200, together with those built on private land, raised the Company’s figures to 2,863, according to Cincinat Sfințescu. The company had built in just 25 years a little over 110 homes annually, together with buildings for public institutions. A new momentum was to be given by the Systematization Plan, finally adopted in 1935.
The houses on Victor Manu street: the City Hall’s lack of confidence in the capacity of the Municipal Company in solving the housing problem
Bucharest City Hall’s attempt to look for alternatives of improving the living conditions and the experience of the Municipal Company led to the construction of the Victor Manu lotissement. Thus, at the initiative of the City Hall, the Company built 16 houses on Victor Manu Street, following the plans of the architect Horia Creangă, the director of the New Works department within the City Hall. This was the first modernist style housing project executed by the municipality. The appointment of the architect Horia Creangă as the head of the department (1933) and, later, in the Board of Directors of the Municipal Society (1941) marked a new impetus for the Company. Horia Creangă (1892-1943) was considered one of the pioneers of modern architecture in Romania, author of numerous public and private buildings in Bucharest and in the country. Creangă was tasked with the design of the houses on Victor Manu street, and the Municipal Company with their construction. The land on which the City Hall decided to build was near Iancului Park and was divided into 19 plots of approximately 400 sqm, with an area of approximately 86.40 sqm for the houses. The company built a total of 9 semi-detached houses (18 apartments) and a detached one, each with a basement and two storeys, the cellar containing three rooms. On the ground floor, the architect had designed a bedroom, a large room, a living room, a vastibule, a hall, another room and a servant room, and on the floor were two large rooms, a study, a larger bathroom and a smaller toilet. On the other hand, the construction was made of brick with lime mortar, the basement was made of reinforced concrete, and the roof was covered with sheet metal. The construction of the houses on Victor Manu Street began on April 28, 1937, when “the proposal made by the Mayor of the Municipality to agree with the Municipal Company for Low Cost Housing for the construction of 15 houses in Iancului Park was approved, to be assigned in full of property and free of charge to five pauper writers, five journalists and five teachers, who distinguished themselves in the works of their respective professions ”. The sanction by royal decree was finally issued on September 6, 1939, when the first beneficiaries had most likely already moved there.
Lodgers on Victor Manu
The 15 dwellings were designated by the Union of Journalists, the Society of Romanian Writers and the Teachers’ Association, the main criterion of their choice being that they did not already have a property. After the construction, the City Hall distributed the houses to the poor intellectuals, but after September 1940 they were taken over by the members of the Legionary Movement. The house on Iancului Road 50 was assigned to Al. Cazaban (1872-1966), a well-known journalist and writer, and the second house of the duplex (Iancului 52) was given to Mihail Celarian. Carol Ardeleanu (distinguished in 1933 with the Society of Romanian Writers’ award) lived at Iancului 54 and Dumitru Karnabat (symbolist poet, journalist and critic, 1877-1949), at number 56, sharing the same building. On Victor Manu Street, at no. 4, Mihail Sorbul (distinguished in 1937 with the National Prize for Theater) took over his house in the autumn of 1939. The teachers Juarez Movilă and Teodor Castrișeanu lived at numbers 8, respectively 10, Aurelia Cantemir and Constantin Enescu at numbers 16, respectively 18 and Gh. Diaconescu at number 24. They became homeowners in the autumn of 1939. The latter lived in the only individual villa of the lotissement. The distribution thought out by the City Hall was intended to provide a home for the intellectuals who could not afford it, but after September 1940, the houses were distributed to the members of the Legionary Movement leadership. Thus, the proceedings of October 26, 1940 established that the houses were offered to Corneliu Georgescu (6 Victor Manu street, thus becoming a neighbor to Mihail Sorbul), Gheorghe Ghițea and Lucia Borș (numbers 12 and 14 respectively), Radu Mironovici (number 22), and “the fifth house was left free and is today occupied by the Studies and Statistics Service of the Municipality” (number 20). The names of the beneficiaries are known in Romanian historiography: Corneliu Georgescu and Radu Mironovici were founding members of the Legionary Movement, while Ghițea held a position in the Ministry of Labor during the legionary government (September 1940 – January 1941). The construction of the houses in Victor Manu continued the efforts of the City Hall of gaining independence from the Municipal Company for Low Cost Housing, as in the case of the Ghencea lotissement. The most important difference was related to the distribution of the houses in the case of the Victor Manu lotissement, an initiative that belonged to the City Hall. In those years, the Communal Monitor stopped publishing the meetings of the Local Councils and the General Council, and the last free elections were in December 1937. In February 1938, the king introduced an authoritarian regime that lasted until September 1940. The architects Roger Bolomey and Horia Creangă and the mayor Victor Dombrovschi entered the Board of Directors of the Company in October 1938. According to internal reports, the Company had built nearly 200 homes in 1938 and 1939, while in 1940, the number was only 97, of which 41 in Drumul la Tei, 21 in the Raion lotissement and 35 homes in Drumul Sării. The company was about to enter the last stage of its activity and existence, with the same management, the same architect and with the same plan of building the standardized housing in lotissements.
After 1941, the Company continued to build houses in the Iancului lotissement, and in the 1942-1943 campaign, it also implemented a type of row houses on Leonard and Grozăvescu streets. All the others were similar to the ones they had already projected in the Raion, Drumul Sării and Calea Lacul Tei lotissements. The names of the streets were changed as follows: street A, named for a short time Alexandru Sturdza, was called Gheorghe Folescu (opera singer), street B became Jean Athanasiu (baritone), street C received the name Grigore Gabrielescu (tenor), street F was named Ion Băjenaru, E street, Nicolae Leonard (tenor, nicknamed “The Prince of Operetta”) and F street, Traian Grozăvescu (tenor born in Lugoj, with remarkable international success). The company did not complete all the houses until the end of the war, resuming their construction in 1946-1948. The Iancului lotissement was completed with the apartment buildings on Vatra Luminoasă and Jean Athanasiu streets. Residents of the neighborhood still remember the fact that this area was built with “cheap housing”, in 1930, in an area where there were eight brick factories. Initially, the houses were surrounded by small fences (1.10 m), “fastened on an anvil”. The houses were equipped with ceramic stoves and were initially heated with wood, later black oil and after 1989, gas. The inhabitants mention that after 1948, many senior officials moved in, such as the dean of the Faculty of Petroleum and Chemistry, an engineer, a doctor, a judge and an architect, the general Corneliu Mănescu-the foreign minister of Romania, but also the French language professor Diaconu or the general director of tobacco manufacturing-Bibilov. Referring to the industry in the area, the inhabitants remember the “Zefirul” factory, built in 1923 by the French, which functioned until after the Revolution. Not long ago, the factory was demolished, and a business center was to be designed in its place. The other factory, “Metalurgica”, has 400 workers and is still functioning, producing filing cabinets. In fact, the blocks were built in the 1970s, causing a two years stop in the traffic on Iancului Road. The “hovels” surrounded by wooden planks were demolished and replaced with “good-looking blocks”. The dwellings in the Iancului 2 lotissement were built after 1945, and one of the inhabitants born in the late 1940s confirms it: “The houses, at least after the war, were sold in installments, but in “short” installments. You didn’t become an owner until you paid it in full. You couldn’t even move in it before paying. (There were troubled times, the banks did not take any risks.) In 1946, at the monetary stabilization, some of those who had only paid the advance remained without money. They couldn’t pay the rest. The financing bank executed the mortgage and became the owner («Payment»). The houses were completed and distributed, later, to some employees of the bank. (Other houses in the same situation were taken over by the Company, which also gave them to some employees.) The operation took place through 1947-48. The distribution criteria were those of the first years of communism. In June 1948 all the banks were nationalized and merged into one, which was called the State Bank (it was a central and a commercial bank). During Ceausescu’s time it was named the National Bank. […] The construction of the school started in 1955 and it was put into operation in 1957. The land had belonged to the weaving mill”. The residents of the Victor Manu lotissement confirm that the houses were “cheap”, built by the state for the military and state clerks. As in all previous cases, none of the interviewed residents remembers the name of the architect, the Company or the engineers who built the houses. However, they can tell that similar projects have been built in other districts of Bucharest, such as the Domenii area. Other residents consider that the buildings represent “cheap housing built for various officials, especially for the Ministry of Aviation”, whose construction was started in 1939 and completed in 1941. Others mention the houses on Griviţa Street as having been built for CFR, and the ones near the Military Academy as having been built for the Ministry of War. Finally, the residents of Victor Manu Street remember that the legionaries lived in the plot.