Streets: Caraiman, Trotușului, Crângul cu Arțari
N.I. Georgescu, D. Stoica
The initiative to build the Sf. Vineri lotissement goes back to 1925, but this it was particularly determined by the steps initiated in 1927, which led to its authorization a decade later, in 1936.
Approval chronology and lotissement history
Initially, the land assigned for the lotissement was located outside the city limits. The changes imposed by the administrative law of 1926 led to its inclusion in the 4th Green Sector. In this sector, the Company had already built the Clucer, Zablovschi, Steaua and Boiangiu lotissements, along the Filantropia boulevard. The land on which the Sf. Vineri lotissement was built was delimited to the north by the Cuțarida garbage dump, on the east by the Filantropia boulevard, on the west by the Sf. Vineri cemetery and on the south by the Clucereasa Elena street and had an area of 50,370 sqm, of which the streets occupied 14,710 sqm, public gardens 2,958 sqm, and the remaining plots totaled 31,737 sqm. This was probably a redesign of the original plan, which seems to have been signed by Trajanescu. The company opened two parallel streets on this property, on the west-east direction, joined by two perpendicular streets. The streets were called Sf. Vineri and Traian, despite the fact that there were two streets in the center of the city bearing these names. This was done on the grounds that the lotissement was part of the suburban commune Grivița. The 1926 administrative change and the incorporation of these suburbs within the municipality led to the renaming of the streets. Thus, Sf. Vineri street became Trotușului, and Traian was named Caraiman. The design of this lotissement revealed the conflicts between the sector administration and the general city hall, and also between the urban and architectural visions. Since the approval of the Cornescu lotissement, the members of the Technical Commission recommended to the Company that the provisions of the systematization plan should be taken seriously, and the conflict seemed to escalate with the debates about the approval of the Sf. Vineri lotissement. The company did not conceive the construction of buildings for its public other than the standard dwellings, with one or two storeys, surrounded by a garden. On the other hand, the urban planners insisted on the need to widen the traffic lanes on the owners’ expense. These visions were confronted in the case of the Sf. Vineri lotissement, where the divergent interests of the Company and of the urbanists led to consecutive postponements of the approval for the lotissement that lasted more than a decade.
In February 1927, engineer D. Stoica, the director of the Municipal Society, requested the Technical Commission from the 4th Green Sector to issue the approval of the Sf. Vineri lotissement, but did not receive it. In his request, Stoica seemed to anticipate the refusal of the Technical Commission, due to the small width of the streets, and motivated this choice by the need to obtain more plots. Stoica mentioned: “We mapped out the width of the streets at 10 m and a 3m set back of the facades, in the spirit of the art. 8 provisions in the “Law for the Border of Bucharest” […]. Please note that the free area for lotissement is about 34,000 sqm compared to the 16,000 sqm of streets and public gardens, which will increase the sale price of land by 48%, so any sort of street widenings or the construction of squares would increase the cost of land for the potential buyers of affordable housing”. The lotissement plan, dated April 5, 1928, was signed by architect P. Rossin. The Technical Commission did not intend to change the alignment that had already been decreed by the systematization plan and forced the Municipal Company to “comply with the decreed alignments”. The Technical Commission that got together on February 7, 1928, explained that the systematization plan mapped out the extension of Muntenescu street from the Domenii lotissement (Alexandru Constantinescu today) beyond the Filantropia boulevard, by 20 m in width, and its connection with Turda Street by designing a new boulevard (Iordache Golescu), both on the Municipal Company’s building site. The company’s mission was to persuade the Technical Commission to give up on these two boulevards, in order to preserve as much space as possible for housing. At a March 13, 1928 meeting, the Technical Commission decided that the Traian street would have a width of 18 m-8 m larger than the Company would have liked, and the second street, parallel to the Traian street (Trotușului today) ), “Is mapped out with a length of 12 m, and the construction will be carried out 2 m from the street”. The Technical Commission also decided to design a square at the intersection of Saint Friday and the Volga street from the Steaua lotissement, “so that this square can continue to Clucereasa street”. These decisions could not have satisfied the Company. Given that the position of the Technical Commission was firm and that the concern of the Municipal Society was to solve the problem, the latter was willing to compromise, giving up on some of the initial requirements and proposing new alternatives, which ultimately led to the approval of the lotissement. On April 5, 1928, the Municipal Company stated that “in the new lotissement plan we mapped out a width of 16 m between the facades of the houses. If we design a larger width we would be left with a plot depth of less than 12 m from the façade to the back of the plot, which would lead to the houses stretching to the bottom of the courtyards, thus depriving them of the necessary air flow for ventilation”. The company defended its point of view, showing that the width of the street did not hinder traffic, because there were enough parallel streets to absorb it. Thus, it offered another solution: the street width of 12 m and the buildings to be set back 2 m from the sidewalk, “committing to add a provision in the sale contracts stipulating that when the City Hall decides to widen the street by 16 m , the buyers would be forced to move their fences on the new alignment, without the right to claim any compensation from the City Hall ”.
On April 10, 1928, the Technical Commission approved the project, accepting the proposal of the Company: “The company is to add in the deeds of sale that the land between the fence and the buildings will remain free to the Commune so that in the future the buildings will be on the alignment, and the width of the streets becomes one of 16 m and Traian street and the other parallel of 14 m ”. These discussions about the width of the streets were completed by their approval on October 2. In order to resolve this dispute, the Municipal Company gave the land on Caraiman Street, “with all the constructions and improvements on it […], to be made available to the municipality for free to serve as a public garden, water pool, beaches for children, as well as any improvements deemed necessary. The Communal Council, in the May 23, 1935 meeting, headed by Mayor Al. D. Matak, accept this donation. ” The land was given to the Ministry of Health, which “through the Rockefeller Foundation will build a hospital, equip it with all the necessary equipment and support it”.
Following the opinion of the Technical Commission of the sector’s town hall, the lotissement had to be approved by the Commission for the implementation of the construction regulation and the preparation of the systematization plan, which noticed the compromises and refused to give its approval. The members of the commission confirmed that “since the law on plotting the land is not clear on whether the Municipality or the Sector decides on this matter, it remains [the responsibility of the Council] to permanently settle the buildings’ setting back”. Finally, in 1936, the Communal Council, under the leadership of the new mayor, Al. G. Donescu, put an end to the problem: “The delegation of the General Council, with unanimous vote of the members present, returns to its decision no. 688 of October 2, 1928 and approves the lotissement of the Municipal Company for Low Cost Housing located to the north of the St. Friday cemetery, under the conditions established by the decision with no. 65 of June 7, 1928 of the Commune Council of the 4th Green Sector ”. The approval of the parcel had lasted nine years, during which the Company had already built houses on all 150 plus lots.
Architect Ion Țărușanu designed all the houses in this lotissement based on the plans used in the previous lotissements, Raion, Rahova and Drumul la Tei. The construction of the houses was carried out in annual campaigns. In total, the lotissement plan aimed to construct 94 semi-detached houses and another 24 rowhouses, six in each row, forming four separate constructions. A sketch published by Sfințescu confirmed that 122 dwellings had been built in the lotissement by 1933, and the permits granted by the City Hall mention another 12 dwellings in 1934, and in 1935 a total of 39 permits, therefore, 173 dwellings. The rest, probably, were built in 1936. Most of the lots from the street intersections (both in the interior of the lot and the northern boundary, adjacent to the Steaua lotissement) remained unbuilt until 1933, in order to establish the width of the streets and to determine the situation of the corners. In an article published in 1933,, during the construction of this lotissement, Sfințescu mentioned that in the allotment of Sf. Vineri, the Company used the plans for type 100, 102 and 203, but also the type with redans. Sfințescu mentioned that “the foundations were often made of concrete, and the brickwork either handmade or pressed, the roofs made of eternite or sheet metal(before the war), afterwards with tile, the carpentry of fir wood. The works were executed by contractors, with the material supplied by the Company, in order to avoid poorly understood savings in the quality or quantity of the materials, by the contractors”. The houses forming redans were built on Caraiman street, towards Clucereasa Elena, and on A street (Trotușului). Adjacent to its residential function, the lotissement also had a public garden on which the Ministry of Health built a hospital. The streets have also been paved starting with 1929 and at the same time, the Bucharest Municipal Factories also started the public works on the water, sewerage and public lighting networks.
Among the beneficiaries of the houses were public clerks, but also many ceferiști, who moved in the lotissement due to its proximity of the Grivița Workshops. The prices of the auctioned homes were almost the same as those of Raion, Rahova and Drumul la Tei, being of similar models. In 1935, a house with five rooms (two storeys) on Trotușului street, with a 115 square meters surface connected to the water, sewerage and electricity system, cost 460,000 lei, and in 1936, a two-room house , with 134 sqm, was auctioned at a starting price of 380,000 lei.
The history of the Sf. Vineri lotissement shows not only the lack in clarity of the administrative laws, expressed by the conflicts between the bureaucracies represented by the architects and the urban planners, but also the conservatism of the Municipal Company, which was not willing to look for alternative solutions in the design of the houses. The discussions on the width of the streets started from the desire of the Municipal Company to use the land for the construction of as many houses as possible, respecting the principle that has guided it since 1910. As such, in this situation, the Company did not give up the idea of individual housing, much rather preferring to insist on modifying the systematization plans. The only concession in terms of housing plans was the design of groups of six apartments, some of the first examples of rowhouses in Bucharest, built in Rahova, Raion and Sf. Vineri. The urbanists and architects of the Technical Commission tried to enforce and follow certain rules, but without success. In the end, Caraiman Street was not widened anymore, the history siding, in this dispute, with the Municipal Company for Low Cost Housing. Few changes were made to the Sf. Vineri lotissement, and there was no need to change the width of the streets. After the war was over, the communists set up the “Cireșarii” Park and built the four-storey blocks on the newly opened Constantin Buzdugan street, parallel to the other two streets. Their construction is integrated into the urban fabric of the lotissement. The complex on Caraiman Street has continued its social purpose.