Lurking behind this facade

Old facade of a new business in Bucharest. (

Old facade of a new business in Bucharest. (

Behind this stern but elegant classical façade – in Bucharest! – lurks one of the most astonishing and effective mixtures of the old and the new that I have ever seen. And the fact that it is a bookstore, restored to its former dignity after being confiscated by Romania’s communist regime, tops all things. Open the link to the new Carturesti (Carousel of Light) Bookstore. The interior design is by Square One, of Romania, most of whose work, aside from this one project, stinks of the usual orthodoxy. Tell me if you agree that this fine-grained contemporary treatment of a classical interior meets with your approval, and whether it embraces the aesthetic criteria of rhythmic complexity that I have long considered a requirement for modernism to fit with coherence into a traditional setting (interior or exterior). Most attempts to “mix the old and new” are complete failures, examples of compromise that satisfies no one.

I take special joy from this resuscitation because I am a quarter Romanian myself. My mother’s people were Romanian and Hungarian. My father’s people were German (French Huguenot) and Norwegian. As much as ancestry and perhaps far more than the Dracula legend (Transylvania has switched back and forth in history between Hungary and Romania, which has it now), this bookstore adds to my desire to someday visit Romania.

A tip of the hat to Alex Taranu for sending this to the Practice of New Urbanism list, and for tracking down a shot of the classical exterior, which was not included with the website of the bookstore. I am afraid that may be because, unless five floors are underground, then five stories must have been added atop the original that would probably make me retch with displeasure. Please, someone, tell me that my fears are overwrought!

* * *


carousel-of-light-library-bucharest-8It appears that I was indeed led astray, probably by my own eagerness to believe. Fortunately, the error is no catastrophe. The old classical façade atop this post is another branch of the same Carturesti bookstore chain, the Carturesti Verona. And the façade of the Carturesti Carousel, to the left, is a delight as well, albeit in a different key. Here is a link to a different set of photographs of the Carturesti Carousel, the last of which (unlike the one I originally linked to above) has the façade of the store, which is new and more like the interior. I hope readers who see this correction will have enjoyed the rollercoaster ride anyhow.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Art and design, Books and Culture, Development, Other countries and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Lurking behind this facade

  1. Reblogged this on Architecture Here and There and commented:

    Reposting to correct and clarify.


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