Monday, June 30, 2008

Kalingrad, East Melbourne

Kalingrad, East Melbourne

I call this block of flats in East Melbourne Kalingrad but I really don't have a clue. The name on the gate post reads Kalingr so I've added a few letters to come up with a suitably exotic name. If anyone knows the real name I've love to hear it.

Like so many flats built in Melbourne between the wars, this is a only three storeys tall because local building regulations would have required a lift to be installed if it was any taller.

It is lovely to see the original open balconies have not been enclosed like you see on many other flats of this type. I especially like the lines around the balonies denoting the floors. Three lines on the top floor, two lines on the middle and one at ground level.

Kalingrad is a little deco gem and even if I have got the name wrong, it will always by Kalingrad to me.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Art Deco 1910 - 1939, NGV, Melbourne

It's been a big few days for Art Deco in Melbourne.

Last Thursday saw the official opening of the the latest Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition, Art Deco 1910 - 1939 by the Premier of Victoria, John Brumby.

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) have worked with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London since it was exhibited there in 2003 to bring many of the fabulous Art Deco treasures to Melbourne.

By necessity, not all of the pieces from the V&A exhibition have travelled to Australia but the major display from the V&A has. The reconstructed foyer from the Strand Palace Hotel has been shipped out and now takes pride of place at the NGV. Staff from the V&A saved this fantastic Art Deco structure when the hotel was being demolished in the late 1960s.

The exhibition also includes many items from the NGV collection and from private collectors and there is a separate section dedicated to Australian deco.

Another undeniable highlight is the rare Cord 812 Westchester Sedan. Only 3000 were manufactured between 1936 and 1937 and the one in the exhibition is one of only 60 right-hand drive models manufactured and one of only 16 in Australia.

There are over 300 exhibits including Cartier jewellery, Hollywood film clips and multimedia slide shows.

On Saturday, the exhibition opened to the public and the NGV hosted an Art Deco symposium which was booked out weeks ago. Judging by the numbers of people attending the first day, it should be a major success. The 2003 V&A exhibition was their most popular ever.

This morning, the Art Deco Society conducted a walking tour of Melbourne deco buildings. It was well attended and attracted visitors from interstate and the USA.

So I should be all deco-ed out but I'm still excited about the exhibition and the 99 days that it still has to run. That's because they used some of my photos in the multimedia slide shows to illustrate Art Deco buildings from around the world.

I can't deny it was a thrill to see my photos among all those great Art Deco pieces and eavesdropping on the visitors conversations as each building appeared on the screen.

If you love deco and can get to Melbourne before October 5th, do it, you won't regret it. And if you can't, you can always have a look at The Age Art Deco page presented to complement the exhibition.

Art Deco 1910 - 1939, NGV website
Art Deco Society website
The Age Art Deco page

Saturday, June 28, 2008

former Coles Store, Adelaide

former Coles Store, AdelaideArchitect Harry Norris designed a number of stores for the Coles retail chain from the late 1920 through to about 1940.

This store, located in Adelaide's Rundle Mall was designed towards the end of this period. It is no longer a Coles store and now serves as a retail arcade.

Norris completed the building in caramel coloured faience tiles providing a smooth surface. The metal frames of the horizontal bands of windows are painted a similar colour.

Above the top row of windows a row of cream tiles, set perpendicular to the facade, provide some measure of shading.

For me, this building demonstrates simple elegance as it curves around the corner with virtually no decoration.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Skyline Business Institute, Nairobi

Skyline Business Institute, NairobiI snapped this photo of the Skyline Business Institute from my hotel window in Nairobi.

It is quite an interesting building. It is four storeys tall with horizontal bands of windows running the length of the building on each level. The windows appear to be metal-framed shaded by a concrete eyebrow.

At the right-hand end of the building there are a series of concrete ribs running vertically up the facade, almost certainly identifying an entrance.

The roofline consists of a simple parapet that curves with the building around the street corner. There is, however, an unusual break in the parapet towards the left-hand end of the building and what looks like a portion of a conventional pitched roof.

It would be great to know more, if anyone out there has any further details.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Beacon Hotel, Miami

Beacon Hotel, MiamiThe Beacon Hotel on Miami's Ocean Drive was built in 1937 from a design by New York architect Harry O. Nelson.

The night-time neons highlight some of the deco features of the hotel's facade. The strong vertical columns above the entrance and the decoration along the roofline.

Underneath each window there are three broad bands in relief protraying the rule of three, a deco standard.

The etched doors (below) are magnificent. Semi-circular glass panes create a full circle when the doors are closed. The design features a mirror image of flamingoes and tropical plants.

Door, Beacon Hotel, Miami

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mayfair Theatre, Kaikoura

Mayfair Theatre, Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a small tourist town on the South Island of New Zealand and it was lovely to see their local cinema, the Mayfair Theatre, is Art Deco in style.

Mayfair Theatre, KaikouraA simple stepped roofline and decoration around the doors highlight the Mayfair name.

Unfortunately I didn't stay long enough to catch a flick here but I did get to see wome whales and dolphins which was fantastic.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Burton's Deco Elephants

Burton's Deco Elephant, Belfast

Before I travelled to Belfast to catch up with my parents who were on holiday there, I found this Belfast Art Deco website about a building in Ann St which had these amazing elephant decorations (above & left).

Burton's Deco Elephant, BelfastThe website said it was a mystery what the building was so I was thrilled when my Dad guided me to Ann St and on first sight of the building announced that it used to be Burton's the Tailors.

My Dad was born in Belfast and lived there for almost 30 years before we emigrated to Australia. You can't beat local knowledge.

The shop is quite small and bears two such stylised elephant heads as capitals to the columns dividing the windows on the building's facade. Other deco features can be see around the windows and on the cartouche at the top of the building which would have contained the Burton's name.

Belfast Art Deco website has since been updated and notes that the Ann St Burton's store was designed by a Burton's employee N Martin in 1932 while the elephants were designed by E A Moore.

The site also records that there are other Burton's stores in England also bearing elephants.

I discovered this for myself about a month after I returned to London where I was living at the time. I was driving around with a friend from Australia randomly spotting deco buildings when I saw the elephants again in Greenwich.

Burton's Deco Elephants, StreathamLater still, I saw them again in Streatham, South london (right & below). They were on a pub but there is no doubt the building is a former Burton's store.

It is bigger than the Belfast store and has four elephants but a lot of the other decoration is identical.

There is however one subtle difference. The elephant's tusks point outwards on the Belfast store and inwards on the Streatham store.

Burton's Deco Elephants, StreathamI am not a building expert but it looks to me that the Streatham elephants are cast in concrete where the Belfast ones are perhaps carved from stone. There is certainly more detail in the Belfast elephants and I suspect that those tusks would break off if they tried to produce them using a cast.

A search of flickr (see links below and please take the time to have a look at these great pictures) has revealed to me other locations in England where the Burton's elephants still gather including the Greenwich location where I had first seen them in England. All of the 'English' elephants have tusks that point inwards.

It seems these elephants continue to bring up questions.

Barking, uploaded by bowroaduk
Greenwich, uploaded by bowroaduk
Wolverhampton, uploaded by suselstahl
Oldham, uploaded by Stan.W
Weston-Super-Mare, uploaded by Fray Bentos
Halifax, uploaded by Martinish
Chatham, uploaded by BrianD36

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Bar in Asmara

Bar, AsmaraThis is a great building. Virtually no decoration but a fantastic overall shape. The curved front could be the bow of a ship.

A thin eyebrow running aroun the whole building provides shade for the windows along the side but it is interesting to see a second eyebrow just above the two front windows.

Giuseppe Arata deigned the building in 1936 an it was built on the course of the Mai Bela River so the comparison with a ship is quite appropriate.

Today the ground floor is used as a bar with the area at the front providing a shaded seating area for customers to enjoy a cool beer.

Asmara: Africa's Secret Modernist City~ Edward Denison, Guang Yu Ren & Naigzy Gebremedhim

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mosskito, Clifton Hill

Mosskito, Clifton HillThis former garage in Clifton Hill, Melbourne provides the perfect landmark for the people at Mosskito to run their restaurant.

The horizontal facade features a mixture of brick styles to provide simple decoration and large rectangular rendered areas that are ideal for signage.

The most striking feature is the central column. Rendered cream against the dark of the bricks it provides a wonderful support for the retaurant name. Both vertically on the front of the building and also as a beacon on top of the column.

Another example of a how older buildings can be adapted and re-used to stunning effect.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hoddle Bridge, Richmond

Hoddle Bridge

In 1837-38, surveyor, Robert Hoddle laid out a grid of streets for the new settlement of Melbourne then just a few years old.

Pylon, Hoddle Bridge, RichmondA century later, Hoddle Bridge was completed at the bottom of Punt Road hill where in Hoddle's day, a punt would have been the only way to cross the Yarra River.

The bridge named in his honour, inscribed with the year 1938, bears many deco features.

The pylons cut through the water like ships bows. Each one supporting not only a span of the bridge but an ornate street light supported on an art deco column.

The metal railings, shown below, carry a simple geometric design.

Below the road level, the bridge looks a bit sad but the elegant lines shine through the flaking paint.

Railing, Hoddle Bridge, Richmond

Monday, June 16, 2008

former Shop, Port Melbourne

former Shop, Port MelbourneI don't know when this former shop in Port Melbourne was built but it was almost certainly while John Le Clercq ran his hairdressing business here.

It certainly is a modist building. The bottom half of the wall is constructed from a thinner style of brick when compared to the rest of the building. The top half of the wall is renedered but there are stepped decorations on the corners using the same bricks as the lower part of the wall.

Above the verandah, the parapet is made from standard bricks with a line of angled bricks adding subtle decoration just below the roofline. The central section consists of a simple stepped column, rendered to stand out from the red bricks.

John Le Clercq opened as a hairdresser here in 1932 and it is possible that the shop was built at that time, although there was a building on this corner before that. He worked here through WWII at least into the 1950s.

The Sands and McDougall directory of 1955 shows that it was still a hairdressers run by C Goldfarb. In 1965 C Fotter ran it and in 1973, D Nikolic.

In more recent times it has been converted into a residence, like so many corner shops, but we can still appreciate the its simple beauty.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Police Booth, Asmara

Police, AsmaraI love this little police booth on the outskirts of Asmara. It reminds me of a series of bus shelters in Brighton on the south coast of England.

It is small but it packs a punch. The flat roof, curved at the front and extending over the front wall to provide some relief from the African sun.

Even the wall are stepped inwards as they near the ground opposing the usual notion of the stepped skyscraper style.

The windows are interesting. There is a band of square windows around the whole front of the booth just above the door and a segmented porthole window on each side.

Porthole Window, AsmaraThe booth seemed to be used as a checkpoint for traffic leaving Asmara on the way down from the plateau to Massawa on the Red Sea. An officer boarded the bus I was on but only checked the papers of a few people, all young men. There was no drama to the situation but it gave me time to take note of the booth and come back a couple of days later to take a few pictures.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cenotaph, Durban

Cenotaph. DurbanThe War Memorial in Gardiner Street, Durban came about through an archtectural competition in 1921. The Cape Town firm of Eagle, Pilkington and McQueen won and the resulting structure was completed in 1926.

The most striking feature of the Cenotaph is the colourful sculpture of the fallen warrior being transported to heaven in the arms of two angels. Heaven in this case represented by an amazing yellow sunburst topped with a white dove and a starry sky.

The sculpture was completed by Harold and Phoebe Stabler of the Poole Pottery in England and shipped out to be assembled on-site.

It is a bit disconcerting to see such bright colours on a war memorial but the representations are so well done that respect is duely paid to the fallen regardless of the colours.

Cenotaph, Durban

Friday, June 13, 2008

Althea Court, Durban

Althea Court, Durban

Althea Court, DurbanAlthea Court on the seafront in Durban has some nice decoration. It dates from around 1937.

The bottom two floors are divided from the rest of the building by a bold white zig-zag against the two-tone blue colour scheme.

Higher up, deco shields hold the initials 'M' and 'F' with more zig-zag decoration. I wonder what or who they stand for?

Althea Court, DurbanAlthea Court, Durban

Thanks to Andrew Moore from the Deco Durban Directory for identifying this building for me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Coliseum Cinema, Porthmadog

Coliseum, PorthmadogThe Coliseum in Porthmadog, Wales is a sweet little cinema.

The roofline consists of a simple stepped arrangement above a semi-circular grouping of three windows and the name, Coliseum presented in a classic deco style.

The cinema was opened in 1931 and appears to have reached the pinnacle of its fame in the mid 1960s when the cast and crew working on the TV series The Prisoner in nearby Portmeirion would gather each day to watch the rushes.

Projectionist, Bob Piercy, reflects on those times in this interview especially a special preview of the first episode Arrival.

Coliseum, Porthmadog

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hotel Arthur, Helsinki

Hotel Arthur, HelsinkiWhen I visited Finland, I stayed in Hotel Arthur in Helsinki, chosen purely on the name (father-in-law), the location (central) and the cost (good value). So I was pleasantly surprised to find a bit of deco decoration.

It hard to say how old the decoration is. The rest of the building did not look particularily old or deco.

The Hotel Arthur website indicates the hotel celebrated 100 years in 2007 but surely 1907 is too early for this style. I guess it doesn't really matter but it is sometimes nice to know.

The other thing about this photo is the icicles and snow on the window sill. I went in the first week of March thinking that the weather would be starting to get a bit better after winter.

Well. It didn't snow while I was there but the harbour was still filled with pack ice and I was very glad I'd taken my woollen hat and warm overcoat.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Florin Court, London

Florin Court, LondonYou may recognise this building as Whitehaven Mansions, the London home of Agatha Christie's Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, in the the British TV series Poirot starring David Suchet.

In actual fact it is Florin Court in Charterhouse Square.

The undulating wave of the facade of this building is absolutely spectatcular and I never tire of seeing it when we visit Poirot through our television screens.

I've just watched The Third Floor Flat, an episode from series 1, where a women is murdered two floors down from Poirot and he barely leaves the building during the whole show. Bliss ... except for the poor murdered woman of course.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Disco, Port Melbourne

Disco, Port MelbourneIn 1940 a simple red brick building was constructed in Port Melbourne for Disco Manufacturing to provide car parts for General Motors Holden in nearby Fishermen's Bend.

The two storey building has a simple facade with a low stepped parapet directly about the front entrance. The Disco sign is above the loading bay entrance.

The building curves around the corner and looks quite elegant from this angle with its squat flagpole topping off the corner.

At a later stage, GMH took over the building for their Management and Technical Education Centre (MATEC) and now the main part of the building is used by Cambridge University Press.

Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Rose, Port Melbourne

Rose and Crown, Port MelbourneWhen Pat Grainger wrote Chartered Scoundrels - A brief history of Port Melbourne hotels, she chose this picture to illustrate The Rose in Bay Street.

Established as the Rose and Crown Hotel in 1875, like so many Port pubs it was given a makeover in the 1930s to stave off closure by the authorities.

D F Cowell Ham designed the modernised building which was completed in 1939.

His facade is quite plain with most of the decoration of horizontal waves in the band along the stepped roofline. Perhaps in reference to the sea port location.

The central vertical element supports a flagpole allowing the pub to be identified among its similarily sized neighbours.

A Gable falls in Port MelbourneThose neighbouring buildings got a little shorter one hot October Sunday in 2007.

The gable of the building two doors down fell onto street below scattering bricks across the footpath. It brought the drinkers from The Rose and Chequers, across the road, to see what all the commotion was.

Luckily it didn't happen the following day when Bay Street would have been crowded with people.

Later that evening the Council closed the street and did a forced drop of the gable from the next door building to ensure it didn't fall at a later time. The photo above shows the second gable still in situ with the bricks lying on the footpath.

Not long after this, The Rose lost its dusky pink colouring and was repainted white and grey as shown below with its 'topless' neighbours.

You may also notice (click on the photo to see a bigger version) that although the pub is now known as The Rose, the vertical sign and the flag carry both a rose and a crown motif remembering the original Rose and Crown name.

Bay St, Port Melbourne

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

S&W Cafeteria, Asheville

S&W Cafeteria, Asheville

The decoration on the former S&W Cafeteria in Asheville, North Carolina is amazing.

S&W Building, AshevilleIt is hard to know where to start. The most obvious features are the large windows at street level. Two of them arched shaped, either side of the front door and a rectangular one further to the left.

And of course there are those fabulous blue tiles on the roof. Just ignore the greenery growing between them.

There are a few design elements that are repeated in other parts of the facade.

Just below the roofline, there are a couple of zig-zag lines in blue, gold and cream punctuated with green dots.

S&W Building, Asheville

A simplified version of this design is repeated in the metal band across the rectangular window.

S&W Building, Asheville

And in the metal beside the arched windows.

S&W Building, Asheville

The blue and cream chrevrons around the windows get better the closer you look.

S&W Building, Asheville

Above the door 'S & W Cafeteria' is displayed in an ornate frame topped with a colourful basket of fruit.

S&W Building, Asheville

The S & W Cafeteria was built in 1929 from designs by Douglas D Ellington. It seems to have been an Asheville institution for almost 5 decades until it closed in 1974.

Since then it had housed various businesses but was empty and for sale when I saw it in 2005.

So I was thrilled the other day to see an article by Mark Barrett from the Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper reporting that the old S&W Cafeteria has been restored and re-opened as S&W Steak and Wine restaurant.

Looks like a win-win and I hope the citizens of Asheville appreciate this art deco gem while they are enjoying their dinner.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Chequerboard Flats, Westminister

Chequerboard Flats, WestministerThese amazing blocks of flats were designed by Edwin Lutyens for the Grosvenor and Regency Estate around Page Street, SW1. Central London.

They date from 1928-30 and were built as social housing, more commoningly known as council flats.

The Housing Prototypes website has more detail on how Lutyens came to design these buildings and a detailled description of their structure including quite a few pictures.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Calle de Alcalá 45, Madrid

Calle de Alcalá 45, Madrid

I found this building at 45 Calle de Alcalá on a short visit to Madrid.

Calle de Alcalá 45, MadridOverall, the building is bit too block-like for me but it does have these wonderful reliefs on the facade.

The one shown on the left is at the top of the main part of the building and has a mirror image on the other side.

The one shown below on the next level down. It is much more sculptural and protrays a group of three figures. It too has a partner which while similar in execution, protrays a different group of figures.

It seems that various banks and financial organisations have used this building and you can see why they would be lured to this formidible structure.

Calle de Alcalá 45, Madrid