Thursday, October 30, 2014

Marylebone Road, London


Going somewhere else

Here’s another example of the 1930s ocean liner style, but on a much larger scale than the little tram shelter in my previous post. This building is Dorset House on the northern side of Marylebone Road, near Baker Street. It was built in 1935 to designs by T. P. Bennett & Son, with the prominent modernist architect Joseph Emberton acting as consultant on the project.

I often pass by this block and give it an appreciative upward glance. I like the mix of projecting sections that ensures not only that the vast facade is broken up agreeably but also that the rooms inside are well lit – although the block is south-facing those angled windows bring some eastern and western light into many of the rooms too: a thoughtful touch. The rectilinear geometry of window frames and flat top is offset by the impressive collection of curves displayed by the balconies: curved brickwork, curved concrete floor slabs, curved railings. I doubt that many residents take the afternoon sun on these south-facing balconies: the noise from the traffic in Marylebone Road would limit one’s enjoyment. This must have been less of a problem in the 1930s.

The bright green of the railings is a colour I particularly associate with 1930s buildings. White walls and green roof tiles was a popular colour combination in the period. A big pitched roof of green tiles could be rather strident, but these nautical green railings are more pleasing, especially as they’re combined with a mixture of bricks and white paintwork. An enjoyable effect, even though the balconies look down on the buses and taxis of Marylebone Road rather than a sandy beach and an inviting sea.

10 comments:

mondoagogo said...

I love the green balconies and always give the building an appreciative look, too -- usually from a bus window. There's a great old dance shop at the bottom of the building, as well, it's still got its lovely 30s facade.

Actually, I went past this place just a couple of days ago on my way back from visiting Holland Park, which reminds me that just after the last time I went to Holland Park (in January) you posted about another building I passed on the bus that time (the corrugated iron church in Kilburn). Funny.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Amazing, Anna! The spooky power of Holland Park!

I vaguely remembered the dance shop, so googled it and found it was called Gandolfi (curiously also the name of a firm, based in Nunhead, South London, that used to make beautiful handmade bellows cameras years ago). The shop front looks lovely: I'll have to go back and take another look.

Michael W said...

This style of architecture is called "P&O" in Australia - I note you said "ocean liner". I think we're in the same territory :-)

Toby Worthington said...

Very nice-- and mildly reminiscent of the block of flats shown in the establishing shots of the Hercule Poirot television series. Would you happen to know which (real, not fictional) building was used for that purpose?

worm said...

this building is one of the first sights that greets me every time in venture into london - i've always admired it. I am a total sucker for the 1930's verdigris and white colour combo, also used to great effect on the Hoover building amongst others

Philip Wilkinson said...

Toby: I'm not up to speed with Poirot – have seen some episodes but not enough to remember the locations. They have certainly used a lot of different Art Deco and modernist buildings over the various series. I will have to start looking...

Philip Wilkinson said...

Worm: Yes, exactly, it's one of those landmarks for those of us who come into London from the west. For me, the Hoover Building is the signal that I'm arriving in outer London, the Trellick Tower on the skyline and glimpses of Paddington Basin are signs that I'm nearly there in 'proper' London, and this block of flats confirms that I've arrived.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Michael W: "P & O": I didn't know it was called that downunder. Yes, we are ailing under the same flag...

Anonymous said...

It is Dorset House not Court. I live here. Worth checking out the interior lobby decor if you like Art Deco.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Anonymous: I'm very sorry: I stand corrected. I have changed the post to include the right name. I often pass the building and always admire it, and will check out the lobby. I recall there are also some quite good old shopfronts at ground floor level, which I must photograph when the sun is in the right place.