Art Nouveau in Anderston


Heading back to my hotel after my walk along the Clyde, I spotted this very distinctive Art Nouveau style building in amongst the modern housing blocks, so I wandered over for a closer look.

It’s a solid almost fortress like building – a strong Scottish Baronial influence – but with a number of decorative features, including sculpture and mosaics, very typical of the Art Nouveau style on the front of the building. The side elevation is plainer, no doubt as they would have been less visible when it was built as I expect that it would be hemmed in by other buildings across a narrow street.



The decoration above and around the front doorway was particularly elaborate, as was the cast iron gate (I assume that this is original).


The writing above the door revealed that this was originally a branch of the Savings Bank of Glasgow and some research on the web revealed that it was built between 1899 and1900, and was designed by James Salmon, junior and J Gaff Gillespie (Salmon, Son and Gillespie), with sculpture by Albert Hodge.

The sculptural elements and mosaic above the door are particularly fine.



There’s some information about the building, which is Grade A Listed, here and here.

It’s always a pleasure to come across something unexpected during a walk.

To the Lighthouse

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No, not a review of the novel by Virginia Woolf, but a report of my visit to the Lighthouse centre in Glasgow last Sunday. I was up there for a Conference that started on Monday but had to travel up the day before. Arriving and checking into my hotel around 2 p.m., I had a few hours to explore the city centre.

I’m an admirer of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and have visited most of the main buildings he designed in the city. The Lighthouse

Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, is a visitor centre, exhibition space and events venue situated in the heart of Glasgow, just off the Style Mile. The Lighthouse acts as a beacon for the creative industries in Scotland and promotes design and architecture through a vibrant programme of exhibitions and events.

It’s located in the former Glasgow Herald building the first public commission worked on by Mackintosh. At the time (1895) he worked as a draughtsman in the architectural practice of Honeyman and Keppie . They were responsible for designing a warehouse at the back of the printing office of the paper in Mitchell Street. He is unlikely to have been responsible for the whole of the building, but probably designed the tower – a prominent feature – which originally contained a water tank holding 8,000-gallons of water to be used in the event of a fire. A little ironic, perhaps, given the major damage caused to his most important building, the iconic Glasgow School of Art, which was very badly damaged in May 2014 when a fire broke out.


It’s a tall, narrow building with office and exhibition space. There’s a shop selling Mackintosh related merchandise on the ground floor with the main exhibition spaces being on the next couple of floors.

I started by making my way up to the Mackintosh Interpretation Centre or ‘Mack’ Centre, which “celebrates Glasgow’s most famous architect and explores his life and work”  which is located on the third floor.


It’s a relatively small, but informative and interesting, exhibition that tells the story of Mackintosh’s work with examples of furniture and other objects he designed and photographs, drawings and models of his buildings around Glasgow and it’s environs.




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After looking around I made my way up the stairs to the top of the tower which is now a viewing platform. It was a serious climb up a long spiral staircase. This what it looked like from the top


From the narrow outdoor balcony there was a view out over the rooftops of Glasgow. It’s not exactly Paris, though.


In the other part of the building there’s an indoor viewing gallery, only accessible by lift. So I made my way down the spiral staircase (easier than going up!) and took the lift up to here. There was a similar view over Glasgow but I was also able to get a good look at the water tower.


Mackintosh type style and ornamentation were certainly discernible in its design.

Then I went to have a look in the exhibition galleries. The main exhibition showing at the moment is Weather Forms which

presents art and architectural works that challenge the popular idea that ‘people make places’ by demonstrating that they, in fact, make us.


There was also a small exhibition on one of the landings, Weaving DNA

an immersive textile exhibition borne from a collaboration between Icelandic product designer Hanna Dís Whitehead and Scottish textile designer Claire Anderson. Together they re-appropriate traditional Nordic and Scottish textiles, examining the ways in which these represent and shape aspects of national identity.

I thought it was interesting with the exhibits imaginatively displayed, even if the space was a little cramped




Saint Jean de Montmartre


Saint Jean de Montmartre is an Art Nouveau style church in Montmartre, opposite the entrance to the Abbesses Metro station. It was built between 1897 and 1904 and is constructed from reinforced cement on a metal frame rather than from more traditional materials.. It’s architect was  Anatole de Baudot.

The facade is constructed of red brick and ceramic tiles


The exterior decoration is relatively restrained, particularly compared with 29 Avenue Rapp, the main feature being the use of pointed arches to produce patterns reminiscent of Middle Eastern, Arabic, architecture.

The geometric design is repeated inside the church, particularly along the balcony which was installed for structural reasons



The grey concrete surfaces did give the interior a rather sombre look and feel. The area around the altar was more colourfully decorated. I understand that it was intended to decorate more of the interior in this way but this was prevented by a lack of funding.


I wasn’t particularly impressed by the stained glass in the main part of the church but I did like the simple Modernist geometric design of the glass in the bright The Chapelle de la Vierge (Lady Chapel) – “less is more”.



I quite liked this chandelier like light fitting. Rather 1960’s in style.


and he marble font, with it’s simple geometric form and decoration was attractive. I’m not so sure about the legs, though.


It was an interesting building and certainly “worth the detour” as the Michelin guide would say!

There’s more information about the church here

29 Avenue Rapp

One of my favourite things to do when visiting a city is to spend some time wandering the streets, soaking in the ambience and looking out for interesting buildings and other features. Virginia Woolf, who liked to wander around central London, called this “street haunting” and in Paris, a city particularly suited for this activity, there’s a term used to describe those who indulge in it – the “Flaneur”.

While exploring the Left Bank, strolling between the Eiffel Tower and the École Militaire, I spotted an interesting Art Nouveau style building on Avenue Rapp.


Now, Art Nouveau isn’t exactly well known for being restrained with respect to it’s decorative features.  And this building was one of the least restrained examples of the style that I’ve seen – and I’ve seen plenty!

A little research after we returned home revealed that the building was designed by French architect Jules Aimé Lavirotte and was built in1900/01. His name appears on the all to the right f the door.


It has an incredibly ornate door and door frame, the latter designed by the sculptor Jean-Baptiste Larrive. A mass of whiplash curves and plant like forms with the head of a woman (probably based on the architect’s wife) flanked by statues of Adam and Eve.





The door design is based on a particular male organ while the door handles are in the form of lizards (lézards) which is, apparently, an old French slang term used to describe male genitalia. Not very subtle then!


The main decorative features on the facade are made of glazed earthenware and the glazed tiles embedded in the stone and in the bricks are the work of ceramicist Alexandre Bigot.




As well as the plant-like structures and human figures there are animals including bulls’ heads and turtles supporting the balconies



Art Nouveau in Helsinki – Part 3


During my visit to Helsinki 3 years ago I spent some time seeking out buildings constructed in the Jugendstil style, the Finnish variant of “Art Nouveau”.This wasn’t too difficult as the style was associated with an upsurge in Finnish nationalism at the end of the 19th Century and early 20th Century and there are plenty of examples in the city centre and the inner districts which were developed during that period.. After that visit I wrote a couple of posts about some of the buildings I’d seen. As I’m particularly interested in this type of architecture I decided to spend some time during my latest visit seeking out some more.

Early Sunday morning I caught the No. 3 tram out to the district of Eira. a wealthy district  which, according to Wikipedia “has some of the most expensive and sought-after old apartments in Helsinki”, many of them built in the Jugendstil style.

Directly opposite the tram stop is the Eira hospital. Wikipedia tells us that the district was named after the hospital rather than vice verca!DSC02565


The architect was Lars Sonck, who designed a number of notable buildings in Helsinki and other cities in Finland.

Finnish Jugendstil incorporates rustic type elements along with more Modernist type features and this is the case with the hospital. 

So this doorway has a very rustic look


while the overall look is much more modern with many decorative eatures that were avant-garde for the time it was built



The building next door was particularly interesting – a fix of “rustic”, mock Medieval and Modernist elements


as typified with this section – rustic stonework at the bottom, geometric patterns above with a mythical beast in between.



Just round the corner was this building, similar in style to the hospital



This apartment bock was on the corner of a whole street of Jugendstil buildings





Some more examples from the area illustrating that Jugendstil wasn’t a coherent style but was experimental – incorporating many different influences








One thing I noticed was that many of the buildings included owl motifs in their decorative features





I couldn’t find out what that was about but it must have some significance.

There are many more Jugenstil buildings throughout Helsinki city centre – these two are directly across the road from the hotel where I’ve been staying. They’re simpler buildings than those at Eira, but have incorporated decorative elements that give them that distinctive look.

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The Honan Chapel


The Honan Chapel stands just outside the official boundary of the UCC campus, but is effectively, part of the site. So I couldn’t help but notice it. I almost passed it by, but as I wasn’t in a particular hurry to get back to the train station I decided I might as well take a closer look. I’m glad I did. It was a little gem.


It was only built in the early 20th Century,being consecrated on 5 November 1916. At first glance I could see it was a neo-Romanesque building, this doorway being very typical of the style


but a closer look revealed Celtic features, such as these capitals


The chapel is, in fact, a product of the Irish Arts and Crafts movement and is Hiberno-Romanesque, reflecting the style of early Christian churches in Ireland. It’s a product of the Celtic Twilight of Irish artists influenced by Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts and the Celtic traditions of their native land.


Inside there is a magnificent mosaic floor depicting the “River of Life”, (the colours haven’t come out on my photos, unfortunately)




All the “furniture and fittings” were beautifully crafted and full of detail







But I was particularly taken by the superb stained glass. There are nineteen windows in the Honan Chapel. Eight of the windows were designed by An Túr Gloine (The Tower of Glass), the stained glass studio of the Irish artist Sarah Purser. The other eleven were designed by Harry Clarke, the artist responsible for the Eve of St Agnes window that’s displayed in the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin  The Honan Chapel was his first major commission.








Clarke’s work is exquisite. Very much influenced by the Art Nouveau, Symbolist and Arts and Crafts movement with finely drawn figures, minutely detailed images and luminous colours. Thee photos really can’t do them justice;they need to be seen “in the flesh” to be really appreciated.

Inken and Hinrich Baller

There are two quite distinctive buildings on the Schloßstrasse in Charlottenburg. This school hall, the Carl Schuhmann Hallen


and this block of apartments.


We’d spotted them during our previous visit to Berlin last July and couldn’t help but notice them again during our recent visit to the city, on our way to the  the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg and the Berggruen Museum. They were very “Art Nouveau” in style, with distinctive architectural features and metalwork ornamentation, but there was something a little different about it – less florid, more “modern”.

A sign on the street revealed that they had been designed by Inken and Hinrich Baller.


The buildings have plenty of glass,


distinctive, angular balconies and “spidery” branch like ironwork


Sharp corners




When we visited the Hackeschen Höfe, we spotted this courtyard that was linked into the complex


Walking through there was something familiar about the architecture


Particularly the ornamentation.



A little research confirmed that the architect was Hinrich Baller.

Der Hackeschen Höfe


A feature of Berlin architecture from the 19th and early 20th Centuries was the linked courtyards behind the large buildings used for housing and commercial purposes.

Due to targeted immigration polices of the Prussian rulers as well as other factors, Berlin’s population began to boom in the 19th century and new residential buildings had to be constructed. In the 1870s, Berlin developed a population of over one million people, whereas ……..

The city center residential districts had to be utilized as optimally as possible – this resulted in tenement houses. Behind the prestigious street-front buildings that served as the homes of the bourgeoisie, rear buildings were built across the city, which housed domestic employees, workmen, and the poorer social strata.

The building’s courtyard served as a separation for these differing social and spatial lifestyles – often three or four courtyards were placed in a row.  (Source)

One example of this type of arrangement that has been restored and renovated and which is a popular tourist attraction is the Hackeschen Höfe, which is in the Hackeschen Market district and literally around the corner from the hotel we stayed in during our recent visit to Berlin.

The compex, designed by August Endel in the Jugendstil (Art Nouveau)  style , has a total of 8 interconnected courtyards which contain shops, bars, restaurants, offices and apartments. There’s even a small cinema and a theatre.

The first courtyard is particularly impressive with it’s coloured glazed brickwork and highly ornamented windows.



The buildings in the second courtyard were mainly occupied by offices but those in the other courtyards were mainly residential with smaller shops etc. on the ground floor.






It was very pleant wandering around the courtyards and browsing in the shops, some of them selling quite distinctive products including one, the Golem Kollektion, that specialised in Art Nouveau style tiles.




Lovely – but quite pricey!

Beautiful Blackwell

After our latest visit to Abbot Hall to see the Patrick Caulfield exhibition we drove the few miles over to Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts house near to Bowness that’s also owned by the Lakelands Art Trust. We first visited this marvellous house a couple of years ago, but have been back several times since both to see the exhibitions they hold there and to revel in the fantastic interior.

Built at the turn of the 20th Century as a holiday home for the Mancunian Brewery tycoon, Edward Holt,  on a hill overlooking Lake Windermere, its a superb example of a house built in the English Arts and Crafts Movement style. The architect was Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott

During previous visits, photography wasn’t allowed inside the house. But the policy has changed and it is now possible to take pictures, except of objects where it is clearly identified that for copyright reasons photography is forbidden. I didn’t have my camera with me but was able to take some shots using my phone. So not top quality, but they give an impression of the interior.

This is part of the main Medieval style grand hall. The peacock frieze, installed in around 1906, has been lovingly restored and the original copper lightshades have been reinstalled.

A speciality of Baillie Scott was the Inglenook – a recessed fireplace almost forming a small room within a room – which feature in all the main downstairs rooms.  He incorporates windows and seating and they must have been very cosy places to sit and read or talk on a cold damp Lakeland day.

This is the inglenook in the Great Hall

The light and dark stonework has a very modern look but he has incorporated Delft type tiles and antique ironwork. I think it works really well – a blend of old and “new”.

The inglenook in the dining room, behind an elegant stone arch,  has a very similar look.

I remember the first time I entered the stunning White Drawing Room and how I drew my breath. It made an instant impression and it remains my favourite room in the house. The decor reminds me of the dining room in Rennie Mackintosh’s House for an Art Lover. It has a very similar look and feel. Very modern in feel and very different to the other downstairs rooms. More delicate with a floral carvings and decoration. and some beautiful stained glass

Another inglenook, but in this case it has a different look to those in the Hall and Dining Room.

To either side of the fireplace there are slim, elegant columns with carved wood capitals.

I could sit in this window seat in this bay window with it’s view over Windermere and the Lakeland hills

This is the view from one of the windows upstairs

And here are a couple of pictures of some of the stained glass.

And there are some particularly nice pieces of furniture. This settee from the White Drawing Room and the Chair from one of the bedrooms are by Baillie Scott himself

I am particularly fond of this little clock produced by a local Lakeland craftsman. It has a real Art Nouveau look to it.

As does this lamp , which was designed by Baillie Scott