Sunday, December 2, 2007

Langham Court Hotel, Langham Street, London

The word ‘eye-catcher’ was coined for this place. When I caught a glimpse of it from a side-street I had to have a closer look. What I found was a hotel – but it hasn’t always been that. This dazzler was built in 1901 as a nurses’ home. The glazed-brick façade is no doubt meant to look hygienic – its shiny surface would have easily shed the build-up of city grime in the smoky period when it was built. The style is a kind of neo-Norman – the semi-circular arch above the doorway is a kind of homage to doorways like the one at Elkstone in the previous entry, as the jagged decoration around the arch and the spiral-twist shafts on either side of the door make clear. But no genuine Norman building was ever like this. The bold black-and-white design of the frontage takes the medieval love of pattern-making to new extremes – some of the treatment almost recalled the bold graphics of the Secessionist movement in turn-of-the-century Vienna. Arthur E. Thompson, the building’s architect, might have found this comparison strange. He’d no doubt have found it odd too that his nurses’ home had become a fashionable hotel. At least guests must find it easy to locate when they come back after a long night out.


Peter Ashley said...

I wish it had been the Head Office of Bassett's Licorish Allsorts. With Bertie as the doorman.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Yes, it's like those black-and-white allsorts, isn't it? Mind you, I prefer the round yellow ones with a core of licorice in the middle. If I could find a building like that it would be on the blog straight away.

Peter Ashley said...

Are those yellow round ones coconut? If so I tend to circumnavigate them when sorting out the allsorts. But I do have to fight my two small sons for the Bertie Bassett, there appearing to be only one in each packet.