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Design Diary | Văleni Manor

Văleni Manor when originally owned by the de Styrcea family

We are lucky to be part of a fascinating project at Văleni Manor, the ancestral home of the de Styrcea family, located in the beautiful countryside of Moldavia, in northeast Romania. In 2007 the property was returned to the family after Romania joined the European Union.

Following World War II, the Manor House and its extensive grounds had been confiscated by the Communist Government, and converted into a school. By the time our clients returned to their former family home, it had been stripped of its original character and fine features, and the historic formal grounds demolished and replaced with sports fields.

Văleni Manor converted into a school during the communist period

The school playing fields in place of the original gardens

The de Styrcea family are passionate about the property and are restoring it to its former glory. They are keen to retain the communist buildings to inform the modern history of the estate, finding sympathetic uses for them, and accommodating them into future plans for the garden, in addition to conserving the remaining historic structures, such as the beautiful old Hambar, one of only a few traditional maze drying barns still in existence.

To this end, in 2018 The Manor House was entered into the Historic Building Restoration category in the Romanian Architecture Bienale and won 1st prize, a proud moment for all involved.

The Hambar - a traditional Romanian maze drying barn

Văleni Manor House restored

Taylor Tripp were commissioned to create a Master Plan from which our clients could slowly formulate new gardens, which would be informed by the historic layout. In addition plans were implemented to restore the Arboretum over the following years. We used historic photographs to guide our Master Plan for the Estate, and sympathetic garden layout around the house.

Landscape works in progress around the house

Landscape works in progress around the recently restored house

Historic view opened up to the Belfry

The house has now been restored and updated, and is used for holidays by the family, their friends, and acquaintances. Historic views have been reclaimed through the trees to the landscape beyond, along with a view to the church tower, and the long-lost drive restored along the church boundary wall. Landscape works and improvements are ongoing and will be implemented in stages over the next few years.

Original garden with framed view to countryside beyond

Sports fields in place of the original gardens and the historic view lost behind overgrown vegetation

Main lawn created and the historic view reinstated

Close up of the restored view towards distant church

Original driveway lost and saplings left to establish during the communist era

Work in progress to open up the original drive through the Arboretum and clear self-seeded woodland areas

Works have commenced to clear self-seeded woodland, having been left over time to crowd the few remaining ornamental tree specimens, such as a beautiful old Gingko biloba. The Arboretum is being replanted with new specimens adapted to survive the extremes of climate found in this part of Romania. In 2018 we were pleased to hear that the park alongside The Manor House was listed as a National Historic Monument.

Original Gingko biloba specimen

With our training in Environmental Science and Landscape Design, and a life long passion for ecology and natural environments, we loved the opportunity to survey the wild flower species across the site, and consult on the enhancement and long-term ecology of the Estate.

Richard and Nicholas surveying the woodland for wild flowers and original Arboretum species

One of several wildflower species discovered on the Estate (Aquilegia)

We feel very privileged to be involved in such an exciting project, driven by the wonderful enthusiasm of our clients. All works are being undertaken by a team of Conservation Architects from Bucharest, local craftsmen, and forestry workers, who are relishing the chance to help restore the estate.

The local Arboriculturalists were initially hesitant about removing trees, and carrying out work to the woodland, as timber is a valued resource in Romania. However, having worked with them to explain what we are trying to achieve, and now seeing the significant difference it has made to existing specimens and establishing the new trees, they are fully committed to the restoration works, and really enjoying seeing the Arboretum begin to flourish.

The Arboriculturalists embracing the opportunity to improve and re-establish the nationally listed Arboretum

We look forward to seeing the Estate develop and evolve over time, and to continue to work with our clients, to help realise their vision for Văleni.

For more information about Văleni Manor:

Berthe (family member)

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