In the architectural world, just as in the worlds of food, clothing, and design, as styles come together we have whats called fusion. In fusion, often disparate elements come together to create a cohesive union, and sometimes seemingly harmonious elements come together in a not so harmonious way. In terms of architecture, a truly interesting blend happened in the beginning of the 20th century, melding together the elements of Spanish Mission revival style with the hip sleekness of Art Deco.
Art Deco buildings are known for their futuristic, sleek, dramatic, geometric flair. Cubes, zigzags, and futuristic chic came together to express the growing machine age in the United States. In the roaring twenties and early thirties, the jazzy Art Deco architecture was sweeping the nation. The Art Deco style found its inspiration from many different sources. The austere shapes and curves were taken from the Bauhaus School and the streamlined modern technology-looking design was melded with images of icons from the Far East, Greece, Rome, Africa, India, and Mayan and Aztec cultures. But above all these, Art Deco took inspiration from an architectural discovery in Egypt.
In 1922, archaeologist Howard Carter and his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon, thrilled the world with their discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Egypt-chic soon swept the nation and influenced the design of clothes, jewelry, furniture and graphic design. And of course, architecture.
Another style that was popping-up at the same time was the Spanish Mission Revival style, and in California, these two disparate styles found a way to come together in harmony as Hollywood actors were clamoring to get their homes built in the chic Spanish style. California isnt the only place to see the beautiful union of these two styles.
Hawkes Bay has some tremendous Art Deco and Spanish Mission Walks. Hawkes Bay is located in Napier, New Zealand. Following a devastating earthquake in 1931, the whole commercial heart of Napier was destroyed, but the city was about to be reborn in the newest architectural style, and to become the hottest city. In Hawkes Bay, you get to see all the styles right next to each other: Spanish Classic, Spanish mission, and Art Deco, all side by side.
There are also places in the United States that show this great mixture of styles and iconographies. Take for example a lovely Spanish Revival building in St. Louis, by the architect T.P. Barnett, son of George I. Barnett, another famous architect in St. Louis. The T.P. Barnett building is particularly interesting because it also has Art Deco influences, making it one of the most unique buildings in the Grand Center region of St. Louis. Certainly the next time youre in St. Louis, you need to visit this Spanish Revival building on Washington Avenue.