Monday, September 4, 2017

Napier: Art Deco Capital of the World

The pictures will do most of the talking in this post. We had a delightful afternoon walking Napier, its varying elevations perhaps the greatest surprise. The architecture is jaw-dropping, and once we move through these introductory pictures I promise you there's lots to see.

City homes clustered on a hill (with a view of the Pacific).

There's a walkway along the water.

It leads to the port. Many cruise ships dock here as well as freighters.

The steep streets have a most engaging arrangement of homes, greenery tumbling from every crevice.

A glimpse from the walkway we took up Bluff Hill.

Lumber awaits transport.

Spring bloomers at the top of Bluff Hill.

From there it's downhill to the path along Breakwater Road on the water's edge A right-hand turn takes us into the park running parallel to the city.

The former Napier Courthouse is a timber framed structure clad with weatherboards; it has a roof structure support by heavy timber trusses with galvanised iron sheathing, and it is set on timber pile foundations. It is a two-storied building characterised by the use of simple classical elements for timber construction and is a fine example of colonial public architecture of the 1870's.

Napier is known as the Art Deco Capital of the world. Following a massive earthquake (7.9 on the Richter scale) on the morning of Tuesday 3 February 1931, fires destroyed most of the commercial heart of Napier. The city was rebuilt in the style of that era and by the end of the decade Napier was the newest city on the globe.

Nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930s - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and above all Art Deco, the style of the 20th Century. Napier's Art Deco is unique, with Maori motifs and the buildings of Louis Hay, admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright.

We could have spent much more time in this sweet city.

 Extremely lovely park downtown.

Many of the deco buildings are clustered on this main street, cafes and palms contributing to its gentle ease.

A fitting typeface

As we walked back to our tiny airbnb, we passed some other wee cottages along Shakespeare.

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