Australian Art Deco Architecture
Think about art deco architecture and buildings like Manhattan’s Chrysler Building or The Rockefeller Center usually spring to mind. It’s unlikely that the strip of shops including Myer and David Leees in Bourke Street, Melbourne, or Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) will be at the top of your list. They are great examples of this particular style of 20th-century architecture.
On a world level, Australian cities rank quite highly as far as the volume of art deco architecture goes and stylistically they’re pretty well up there, too. Art deco architecture is a term that’s often bandied about, particularly by real estate agents. It can be misunderstood, but can also be quite inclusive and we celebrate all styles.
Generally, curvaceous houses, painted white and with features such as portholes and steel-framed windows fit into domestic deco. As for larger buildings – anything from offices, factories and flats to pubs and parking garages – they’re often colourful and asymmetrical, with large cantilevered balconies or a tower, and with minimal but stylised ornament.
Many people date the start of deco as the 1925 Paris Expo, others believe it was first seen more than a decade earlier and came about as a reaction to the excesses of Victorian and Edwardian architecture and a response to new materials and technologies. As to whether art deco architecture is fully appreciated, we’re getting there, but it’s a battle to get people to understand its beauty. There was a view for a long time that anything built after 1900 wasn’t of any value. Fortunately that’s changing.
Yours in design,