5 Local Art Deco examples we love
We look back at the Art Deco movement and the stylish examples we pass on a daily basis
For those who aren’t art history buffs, the Art Deco style coincided with the Jazz era of the 1920s and early 1930s. A geometric version of its stylistic predecessor Art Nouveau, it drew inspiration from African and east Asian visual influences as well as the cubist art movement. Today we can see its survival in large, streamlined buildings with symmetrical patterns, and use of bold geometric shapes that reinforce the vertical movement of the building.
Du Cane Court, Balham
Opened in 1937, the striking red brick building Du Cane Court in Balham once had 676 apartments, a bar, restaurant and social club, and was proclaimed the largest block of flats in Europe. Du Cane Court was a favourite for celebrities with famous residents including Dame Margaret Rutherford and comedian Arthur Smith. During the Second World War the building remained unscathed, while surrounding Balham suffered severe bombing. This lead to rumours that the Luftwaffe had been ordered by Hitler to avoid the site as he intended to make the building his home if he won the war.
Tooting Bec Tube Station
Designed by Charles Holden in the expansion of the Northern Line towards Morden in 1926, the station, originally known as Trinity Road, received its current name in 1950. The narrow panel windows and columns on the facade, coupled with the repeated interior use of receding rectangular shapes indicates the influence of the modern Art Deco style on the designer. Similar examples of Holden’s architectural flair can be seen in other underground stations across London, including Oakwood, Southgate and Arnos Grove.
O2 Brixton Academy
Formerly a cinema called The Astoria, the building was designed by Thomas Somerford and E.A. Stone in 1929. Iconic features of the building’s exterior include its domed entrance, columns and fluorescent strip lighting. Falling into financial troubles in the 1970s, the venue was sold for £1 to Simon Parkes in 1983, who transformed it into the world-renowned music venue it is today despite early scepticism by UK music agents. Artists who have graced the venue include David Bowie, The Stone Roses and The Smiths.
Battersea Power Station
The iconic riverside Power Station opened in 1933 and is an enormous example of the Art Deco style that peppers the city of London. Involved in its design was a multitude of talented people, the most notable being Sir Leonard Pearce with Sir Giles Scott, the mastermind behind the red public telephone box, designing the exterior. The power station famously appeared on the front cover of Pink Floyd’s album Animals, with a large inflatable pig between the southern chimneys which caused havoc to flight paths when it became accidentally untethered. It is currently being developed into a luxury accommodation and leisure site.
This beautiful Art Deco building is located in the heart of Chelsea but wouldn’t be out of place along Miami’s beachfront. Originally opened as a garage in 1923 for the Bluebird Motor Company, the building was subsequently used as an ambulance station, before being converted into its current use as a restaurant for fine dining in 1997 by Sir Terence Conran. The restaurant received an interior renovation in 2016 by Sagrada, known for designing The Arts Club and Sartoria, reopening with fresh interiors which capitalise on the building’s Art Deco origins, including a marble bar and red-painted steel beams.