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!
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It 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.