Sunday, August 16, 2009

architecture art deco jugendstil shanghai new zealand

Art deco buildings article -- nice reference

short and good choice of words

Streamline Architecture

As "Art Deco" evolved in the 1930s modern transportation and industrial design began to have an even greater impact upon new construction. The "streamlined" character of automobiles, airplanes, trains, buses, liners and even home appliances inspired powerful horizontal design compositions, accentuated by striking vertical features and punctuated by icons of the technological era.

The origins of streamline architecture are found in Europe. In the early 1910s, a young italian architect who was part of the futurist movement, Sant´Elia, did many drawings of large urban buildings (station, office buildings) which were part of overall concept for a futuristic city. The lines allthough art deco-ish (many vertical lines) were also speed oriented and stretched.

Allthough he died in the 1st WW and never had a chance to see his project turned to life, he influenced some of the european architects of the time. The most famous among them was Erich Mendelsohn, a german born architect who in the early 20s made many sketches of extremely streamlined buildings.

Its most famous legacy however is the so called Einstein Tower in Postdam Germany (drawing above), which mixed element of organic and streamline architecture. Due to the complexity of the building, no other projects like this were ever done: intended to be built out of concrete, it was finally built with bricks and overlapped with a plaster finish. Mendelsohn later received many projects, most famous are the Shocken Department stores in Berlin and Stuttgart (now destroyed) which were a marvel of glass and steel architecture, at that time a real novelty.

Let s not forget that at the same time, a strong parallel school movement was taking place, the Bauhaus which would finally become a standard in architecture (the so called international style). But apart from the Dessau bauhaus school (built 8 years later), very few buildings in Germany were as streamlinish avant-garde as the ones made by Mendelsohn.

By the end of the 20s, the streamline architecture reached its peak Many streamline movie theaters were built and they became the model for what was to be found later in the UK and USA.

Mendelsohn went to the US in 1925-26 and met Norman Bel Geddes, the soon to be most influential figure for streamline utopia in the US.

By 1933, time of the rise of Hilter, the streamline style had completely disappeared (the same fate occured to bauhaus style housing).

Meanwhile the streamline style had reached other countries in Europe. By 1930 many buildings were done in this style in France and the UK and would last until the end of the war. The style was often called paquebot (or liner) architecture as rails on balcony and roof toops as well as portholes were a common trait.

French would often use from 1930s on a mix of vertical art deco and streamline styled elements and it was mostly found in schools, airport and condominium buildings.

In the UK, private housing and movie theater done in the streamline style became extremely popular around 1935 and the same can be said of Belgium were all sea side cities had many buildings done in the style. From the UK, the style reached the shores of Australia, New Zealand (Napier was completely rebuilt after an earthquake in 1932) and South Africa. There is a great amount of streamlined buildings in Shanghai, mostly in the french concession, built in the late 30s and 40s. The most spectacular is certainly the old airport which looks from the sky like a giant airplane.

Another interesting exception is Italy which under Mussolini was completely obsessed with speed (originating in the futurist movement of the early 1910s) yet very few buildings in the streamline style were built in Italy itself. Instead they turned their attention to Eritrea (Africa), which had become an italian colony in the 20s, and built from scratch a complete city in streamline / art deco style. his city is Asmara. Like Shanghai, the most famous building done in the style is the Fiat gas station which also looks like an airplane.

By 1932, the streamline stye in architecture made its first appearance in the US and sent a very strong signal during the 1933 Chicago World Fair. It would become a standard for the 15 years to come.

Streamline architecture was, as soon as it reached the american shores in clinch with the architects of the international style, an architecture mostly based on the bauhaus principles.

Philipp Johnson, Curator of the NY MOMA was the most ardent opponent of the streamline movement in general and considered such architecture as fake and ornamented.

The prevalence of the international style in architecture history also explains why until now the streamline architecture has never been considered as a real architecture worth to be studied and is mostly unknown by the general public.

In America, the streamline architecture would remain an element reserved mostly to public buildings. Many americans could simply not afford the costs linked to such architectures (corner windows were extremely expensive) and the idea of a private streamline house as such was not so popular even if the magazines of the time would like one to think so.

As a matter of facts, it is said that americans embraced the streamline style (which pervaded almost everything) mostly in the kitchen and bathroom yet longed for a neo colonial setting in the rest of their homes

The streamline design style would still pervade in the US, even after the 2 WW, but would became much more subtle: since it s early influence was based on new technology like cars and airplanes, the 1950s jet age was still an environment in which rounded shapes were easily accepted.

How to recognise Streamline Modern(e):

Smooth, rounded cornes often replaced sharp ones on Moderne buildins, especially on corner lots. "Eyebrows" swept around them as did other details. Street corners became inviting architectural focal points, whether the special treatment employed was based upon curves or angles.

Like earlier Art Deco buildings, The Moderne style incorporated smooth and articulated stucco, architectural glass block, keystone and a variety of metals used in detailing. Predominating surfaces became smooth, planer and aerodynamic in character.

Continuous "eyebrows", racing stripe banding, radio tower-like spires, portholes, and deck railings like those found on grand ocean liners, were among theunique features to set this architecture apart from anything before it. The creative incorporation of nautical themes showed this form of Art Deco to be true to its origins of Streamline Moderne Architecture.
StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!


Post a Comment

<< Home