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• Recent Updates Last update 30/12/2005
Buildings featured on these pages:
• Art Deco Bookshop
• Bishopstone Railway Station, Seaford
• De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea
• Embassy Court, Brighton
• Hoover Factory, Perivale
• Ocean Hotel, Saltdean, Brighton
• Saltdean Lido, Brighton
• Shoreham Airport, Brighton
|Thirties Art Deco Buildings|
The 1930s (and late 1920s) threw up a new form of architecture, one which was quite different to any that had come before. The majority of buildings constructed in the period of industrialisation between the late 18th Century and the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 were frequently backward looking in style, even if the methods and materials used in their construction were wholly contemporary. Neoclassicism, Gothic, Arts and Crafts and Baroque all harked back stylistically to an earlier age, a romanticised vision of a more comforting past, an anachronism broken by the emergence of this style of architecture.
On this site I have chosen to refer to it as 1930s Art Deco, but this is a very general term for a form of architecture which is a broad enough church to utilise a number of different influences. This is made implicit in the different buildings featured on these pages; whilst the Hoover Factory exhibits an Egyptianesque angularity in its detail (something popularised by the exhibition of tutankamen's tomb at the British Museum in the late 1920s), Brighton's Embassy Court has the smoothness and stark detailing that harks back to the purest modernism epitomised by the German Bauhaus group of the inter-war period. Despite their varied styles, there are various architectural motifs that unite the buildings. White rendering; flat roofs; curved corners and windows; these features make appearances in some, if not all, of the buildings featured buildings on here.
The principal common thread that unites all the buildings featured on these pages is that they were truly striking and a real departure from what had gone before. The spirit that they conveyed was one that eagerly looked toward the future. This was entirely appropriate for architecture which was to be used in conjunction with modern technology, and is most appropriately seen in structures like the airport in Shoreham which impresses despite its modest size by modern day standards, or the geomotry of the railway stations built by the Southern Railway in the 1930s as they embarked on a wide-scale programme of electrification, transforming the railway of the areas affected from a slow and smoky 19th century throwback to something that was far more clean, efficient and modern.
Like any old building, the sites featured on these pages have encountered vastly different fates over the years, but it is heartening to know that many of them have either been restored or are undergoing restoration. Some have not been so lucky, like the Cafynn's car showroom in Hove, demolished in 2003. Change in social and commercial habits has led to the loss of a great many spectacular cinemas, whilst the Ocean Hotel in Saltdean faces closure due to the decline of the traditional seaside holiday. However, the importance of the preservation of buildings in the Art Deco style is becoming increasingly recognised; the optimism and forward looking nature of this style may have been brutally brought to an end by the outbreak of World War Two in 1939, the boldness and beauty of surviving structures is at last getting proper recognition as the Twentieth Century slips further and further away from us.