The bold, geometric, decorative look of Art Deco originated in France in the 1920s.
It gained prominence in architectural design and was heavily influenced by Egypt – particularly after the high profile discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb by Howard Carter in 1922. During the 1930s, the style was widely adopted through Western Europe and the United States.
A sleeker more cosmopolitan development of Art Nouveau, Art Deco was first used on public and commercial buildings for both its practicality and modern design. Signature characteristics of Art Deco include geometric shapes and angular corners broken up by ornamental motifs. Entrances are often extravagant, roofs tend to be flat and windows can made up of continuous bands of glass.
Art Deco remains one of the most distinctive architectural styles.
Here we take a look at five iconic Art Deco buildings in England, some of which have been developed for contemporary use:
1. The Hoover Building, Ealing, London
The UK base of the Hoover Company, founded in Ohio in 1908, occupied this purpose-built Art Deco factory from 1933. Once dedicated to manufacturing and repairs, the Grade II* listed site is now home to luxury flats, after being bought in 2005. It retains many of the factory’s original features and distinctive signage.
2. Battersea Power Station, Nine Elms, London
Perhaps the most famous power station in Britain, Battersea was built in the 1930s and 1950s by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. This icon of London’s industrial past was decommissioned in 1983 and granted Grade II* listed status.
Now undergoing extensive refurbishment to house offices and luxury apartments, Battersea has also been immortalised in popular culture including the cover art for Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’ album, the 1965 Beatles film ‘Help’, and Christopher Nolan’s 2008 Batman film.
3. The Midland Hotel, Morecambe
One of the most famous and stylish buildings of the 1930s, coastal landmark the Midland Hotel was designed by British architect Oliver Hill. It features prominent curvature, complementing nearby Morecambe promenade, allowing guests to have panoramic views of the North West coast.
In 1998 the hotel closed due to its state of disrepair and remained derelict for almost ten years before its revival by extensive restoration in 2008 .
4. Carreras Cigarette Factory, Kings Cross, London
The Carreras Cigarette Factory was designed by architects M.E and O.H Collins and A.G Porri. Before the creation of the grand factory the building was a small shop famous for the local cat that napped in its window – this is where the company got its black cat logo from. Egyptian style columns adorn the exterior and two giant cat effigies at the entrance symbolising the Egyptian goddess of protection.
5. Daily Express building, Manchester
The Daily Express building in Manchester is Grade II* listed and was built in 1939. It was designed by Sir Owen Williams using opaque and pigmented structural glass giving it a futuristic Art Deco appearance. Newspaper production ceased in 1993 and the building is now home to start-up offices for media companies and apartments.
Do you have a favourite Art Deco building? Tell us in the comments.