Meridian House, Greenwich

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I spotted the tower of this rather splendid red brick Art Deco style building while I was in Greenwich last week so wandered over to have a closer look.

The tower belongs to Meridian House, the former Greenwich Town Hall which was built in 1938-9 to a design by Clifford Culpin. Its original use was as a municipal facility including offices, and included a civic suite and public hall but was sold off by the London Borough of Greenwich in the 1970s and now houses the Greenwich School of Management and private flats.  The Borough Hall is occupied by “Greenwich Dance” .

The elegant clock tower is the building’s  most prominent feature and was apparently influenced by the work of the Dutch architect W. M. Dudok, paricularly the Hilversum Town Hall. It was designed not only to function as both a clock tower but a public observation tower so local residents could view the Royal Naval College and the Thames.

According to Pevsner the building was

“the only town hall of any London borough to represent the style of our time adequately”.  (Buildings of; England, London 2: South)

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Trinity Court, London

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I was down in London for a day on business this week. I had a breakfast meeting in the morning but having woken up early I had a few hours to kill. I didn’t really fancy hanging around the rather horrible Travelodge I was staying in (I’ve vowed never to book in one again!) so decided to go out for a bit of a wander and do some “street haunting” around Bloomsbury.

Wandering down Grays Road I spotted this rather attractive Modernist / Art Deco building so stopped to take a couple of snaps on my phone.

It’s a simple design with interesting ironwork on the balconies and front door

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The Modernist Britain website tells us

Trinity Court is an eight storey apartment block, rectangular in plan, with the shorter sides parallel to the street. The front and rear elevations project slightly at each side giving a Roman ‘I’ footprint to the building. The main elevation features a central entrance with double doors, with decorative tracery in the windows. Above the doors the entrance features a stepped pediment carrying the building name.

and that it

was built between 1934 and 1935 to plans drawn up by the London-based architectural practice of F Taperell and Haase.

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My pictures, taken with my phone with the camera playing up (a software problem I resolved later that day) aren’t that great. But there’s some good ones here.

The Carreras Cigarette Factory

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Another short trip to London this week. On business this time, but I found some time to seek out an Art Deco masterpiece a short walk from Euston Station.

The former Carreras cigarette factory was built in 1926-28 on what had been a semi-circular park on Mornington Crescent. Obliterating the green space in front of a Georgian crescent would probably not be allowed in this day and age, but it clearly wasn’t a problem in the 1920’s!

The architects were Marcus Evelyn Collins and Owen Hyman Collins with A G Porri and Partners as consultant. The Egyptian style of the building was fashionable at the time, following the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 by Howard Carter.

Production ceased in 1959 and the building was converted into offices and many of it’s distinctive features removed. But it was renovated in the late 1990’s and most of the original decoration was recreated.

It’s a massive building and impossible to get a shot that includes all of it, but there is a photograph of the factory and it’s environs here.

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There are 10 columns in the central bays with Egyptian style decoration

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Two giant black cats flank the entrance (the black cat was used as a logo by the cigarette company)

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There are cat motifs high up below the upper storey windows

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And the name of the original occupants is spelled out in “Egyptian style” lettering

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There’s more info and photographs herehere and here.

Art Deco Melbourne

During my time in Melbourne I noticed a large number of Art-Deco style buildings as I wandered around the city. A little research revealed that although Australia was badly hit by the Great Depression of the 30’s, the centenary of the founding of the city, in 1934, led to a boom in construction and many of the buildings were in the Art Deco style. Architecture is often reflects national aspirations for independence and in Australia was a way of demonstrating the break with the colonial style and the modernity of the relatively new nation.

The Manchester Unity building, on Swanston Street, one of the main thoroughfares in the Central Business District, is frequently described as Art Deco, although it has many Gothic features.

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Inside the arcade that passes through the ground floor of the building there is no mistaking the very Deco features

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Next door but one to Manchester Unity Building is the gleaming white Century Building, built by the same architect as it’s neighbour, Marcus Barlow. I felt it was much more representative of Art Deco architecture.

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I saw many other Deco buildins as I wandered through the streets and Lanes of the central Business District, many of them tucked away in narrow side streets, making it difficult to take a photograph. Here are some of them

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There were Deco buildings all over the city. Here are some that I snapped when I wandered around the residential district to the east of the city centre, built in amongst the more traditional Victorian style houses.

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This blog post by a Melbourne local discusses a number of Art Deco buildings in the Central Business District