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WR-AP Book Club - Art Deco Housing

Updated: May 11, 2023

We had just started a project working on an Art Deco property when I had to choose the book(s) of the month so I searched the internet and the options were endless. Due to the pandemic going to a bookstore and library was not an option, it was time to read reviews about possible books for our library. In the early days of the commission the clients of the Art Deco house project visited us in the office and brought with them two books with dividers on the pages where they wanted to show us references. We decided that these two books would be an excellent option not only because they would include the client's references but also because they are jewels that anyone interested in the subject should have in their library.

The first is The Art Deco House, Avant-Garde Homes of the 1920s and 1930s by Adrian Tinniswood. This book selects some of the iconic Art Deco works from around the world. It dedicates several pages to describe each of these works and the architect who designed them accompanied by beautiful photographs. In this book you can see classics like the Villa Savoye and The Schroder House.

My second book is The Modern House Today by Nick Dawe / Kenneth Powell. This is a compendium of Art Deco works in the UK. The authors organise the works into four groups according to the characteristics of the properties. The categorisation is given in the first wave: founding fathers, classic white houses: purist and eclectic, new suburban shapes and looking forward: the end of a modern house. At the beginning of each of these groups there is a general description of the works included, followed by drawings of the plants and then some beautiful photographs of each house. It is undoubtedly a visual reference for the development of the Art Deco trend in the UK.

With the remainder of the budget left over, it was time to choose another book, the latter was chosen a bit by chance and it turned out to be a great surprise for such a small book. Art Deco House Styles by Trevor Yorke is a compressed but meaty book, it has a full explanation of the concepts, illustrates the features and details that make a property considered Art Deco. It includes explanatory texts, images, sketches, diagrams of both the exterior and interior design, furniture, and other details such as posters and even the distinctive wallpaper of the time. It presents some diagrams with the characteristic elements and materials that were very helpful for the development of our wr-ap project.

Although it speaks of the generality of the movement worldwide, the book leans towards the development of Art Deco in the UK. After a concise introduction, the author separates the book into five chapters: Art Deco Style, Art Deco Houses, Art Deco Housing, Art Deco Details, and Art Deco Interiors. In the first chapter he recreates a definition of the movement and its origins after its general development in Europe, America and Great Britain.

The second chapter on Art Deco Houses has a special description of the materials used, the development of the plans and after the contribution of some of the architects who led the movement such as Wells Coates, Amyas Connell, Frederick Gibberd, Oliver Hill, Berthold Lubetkin, Thomas Tait and Francis Reginald S. Yorke. In the next chapter on Art Deco Housing he talks about UK housing development, from social housing and the involvement of the government / city council in the construction of Art Deco influenced houses.

The fourth chapter shows many examples of Art Deco details such as doors, windows and decorative elements. The fifth and last chapter shows drawings of the interior of the properties, including furniture, curtains, posters, fabric patterns among others.

It also includes a list of places to visit in the UK and a glossary.

Anyone interested in learning about or expanding their knowledge of the Art Deco movement should have this book.

This month's WR-AP book club has been written by our project lead Leo de Val, a Venezuelan architect who's civil engineer and artist parents have influenced her innovative approach to architectural thinking.


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