טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentSimona Or Munteanu
SubjectOn the Contribution of Romanian Jewish Architects to
Modernism in Bucharest in the First Half of
the 20th Century
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor Full Professor Aravot Iris
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Abstract

Little is known about Romanian Modernism outside of Romania. Even less is known about the contribution of Jewish architects to Romanian Modernism.  The present qualitative research about the contribution of the Jewish architects to the development of Modernism in Bucharest is an unprecedented theme study with potential for further research.

The aim of the research is to point out the place of Romanian Jewish architects’ contribution to Architectural Modernism and the meaningful role of Harry Stern as an architect and teacher in the Jewish School in Bucharest during WWII. Following an ethnomethodology the research attempts to answer a broad question: “In what way did the Jewish architects contribute to Modernism in Bucharest?” While the primary and secondary sources available were, using the help of the interviewees was essential. The thesis subject is presented and analyzed as an interaction between secular Romanian Jewish architects and the Local Modernism in Bucharest in the beginning of the 20th century.

In the interwar period the Romanian capital, Bucharest, then nicknamed “Little Paris from the East”, reached the peak of its development. In architecture, the Modernist Movement became largely accepted in the 1930s, a time when around 17% of the architects were of Jewish origins, a ratio higher than the Jewish population in the capital (12%) and in Romania (4%). This research makes an attempt at revealing some reasons behind this phenomenon.

The research makes an attempt at revealing some reasons behind this phenomenon by means of a case study: an interpretation of Harry Stern’s work in the context of Modernism. Stern was not only an accomplished Modernist architect, but he also chaired the department of architecture (1941-1944) in a unique Jewish College operating during the WWII in Bucharest. Stern’s work is significant as part of the History of Architecture (comparative analysis with the work of Auguste Perret), as a contribution to the international discourse on “other Modernisms”,   as a chapter in Romanian historiography of Architectural Modernism, and  as a memorial to Stern's share in the now mostly forgotten Jewish higher education institutions.

The research raises many open questions on data and interpretation. Considering the importance and broadness of this subject, and the limited scientific attention it has received so far, the final results of this research are a basic visual and theoretical platform or matrix, which might serve as a starting point for further in-depth research.