Ioanid Park area, Bucharest
Written by Corina Chirileasa, illustration by Marion Vitus
Architect and interior creator Cristian Corvin, who has designed several restaurants in Bucharests Old Town, loves the streets near Ioanid Park for their architectural mix and their what-could-have-been look had it not been influenced by Communism.
While most prefer evening strolls in the busy and lively Old Town, Corvin chooses quieter streets tucked behind the large Magheru Boulevard in downtown Bucharest. Here, two parks can be found – Ioanid Park and its close neighbour, Icoanei Garden Park. Surrounded by 19th- and 20th-century belle époque villas, the area was once the beating heart of Bucharest, a city known as 'Little Paris'.
Only a few travellers and fewer still Romanians include it in their regular walks – stopping to admire the architectural opulence of houses that once belonged to the countrys rich: boyars, architects, and doctors. Corvin believes that if spared the era of Communism, this is how all of Bucharest would have looked.
Corvin strolls from the busy Romana Square on the quieter tree-lined Dacia Boulevard to the French Institute – a recently renovated 20th-century house where European films are now regularly screened. On his way to the green oasis in the middle of the neighbourhood he admires Dutch villas amongst French mansions, neo-Romanian houses, Florentine and Gothic Revival buildings. To him, it is "eclectic but coherent in a charming way".
From Icoanei Park, which calls for a longer stop, one can see the red-brick beacon a Gothic Victorian-style Anglican church on the way down to Magheru Boulevard.
At the intersection with Xenopol Street, walk towards Pictor Arthur Verona Street and the artistic quarter. Named after the impressionist painter, the otherwise empty street home to the beautiful Ion Mincu house – comes alive every June during an event called Street Delivery, when artists and art lovers take over and pedestrianise the street for an entire weekend.
The most interesting and popular place, however, stands at the end of the street, facing the boulevard: the Carturesti bookshop. Housed in an imposing villa that once belonged to a late 19th-century prime minister, this is Corvin's last stop on his history stroll. It's a concept store, not just for buying books, but a teashop to relax in; sip lemonade on the garden terrace, or simply admire how the bookshop uses every corner of its historical interior, including the old kitchen.
Cristian Corvin's sophisticated rudimentary interior design style has brought him increasing popularity at home and abroad. He integrates traditional Romanian objects recovered from demolished buildings into contemporary restaurant interiors. Using reclaimed doors, windows, and shutters as wall panelling, sensitive consideration to light sources gives interiors a theatrical and cosy atmosphere. The young Romanian, who is also an art director and set designer, is currently involved in The Leisure Way international project, which turns shopping centres from retail-focused places to community meeting places. He was shortlisted at the 2012 World Architecture News Workspace Awards.