3 Art Deco buildings you must see in London

Head deep into east and south London to discover the capital’s hidden Art Deco gems, as spotted by Sujata Burman & Rosa Bertoli, authors of An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture…

Insider Secrets
10 October 2019

1. Michelin House, Kensington

Michelin House, Kensington (Taran Wilkhu)

A playful Art Deco palace

Brightening up the Fulham Road with its whimsical heritage, this building is larger than life in the best possible way.

Home to the Michelin Tyre Company Ltd HQ until 1985, it was designed by employee, engineer François Espinasse, who allegedly had no architectural training before creating this early example of reinforced concrete construction.

The exterior includes stained glass windows that riff on the retro adverts featuring Bibendum, aka Michelin Man, and cream tiles stamped with vintage racing cars.

Inside, explore Conran’s design emporium and stay for a fancy lunch at the restaurant, Bibendum.

Nearest station: South Kensington

Address: 81 Fulham Road, SW3 6RD

Architect: François Espinasse (1911)

Access: Restaurant and shop open to the public

2. Hoover Building, Perivale

Hoover Building, Perivale (Taran Wilkhu)

Art Deco off the A40

A dual-carriageway might not be the obvious place for an archi-tour, but lo and behold: the Hoover Building.

Originally the vacuum cleaner’s HQ in the 1930s, by the 1980s Tesco moved in and, conveniently, there’s still a store at the back. Where else can you shop for groceries in an Art Deco monument?

In 2015, part of the building was transformed into luxe apartments.

The heritage features – grand staircases with wrought-iron banisters and terrazzo flooring – have polished up beautifully, and the green-and-black geometric details run from the neo-Egyptian façade throughout.

Look out for its bright white cement (‘snowcrete’) finish next time you drive by.

Nearest station: Perivale

Address: Western Avenue, UB6 8AT

Architects: Wallis, Gilbert & Partners (1933), Interrobang (2018)

Access: Restaurant and shops open to the public

3. Rio Cinema, Dalston

Rio Cinema, Dalston (Taran Wilkhu)

Cult Art Deco movie house

Of all the Art Deco cinemas in the city, this is the leader for retro nostalgia.

It comes alive after dark, a romantically lit beacon drawing crowds to its corner of Kingsland High Street.

Once an auctioneer’s shop, it’s one of London’s first picture houses, established by businesswoman Clara Ludski in 1915.

Today’s auditorium was created in 1937 in the shell of the original space; and through a trapdoor in the roof, echoes of the old cinema can still be seen.

Book in for a cult classic throwback (or a new release), and have a pre-movie drink in the basement bar.

Nearest station: Dalston Kingsland

Address: 107 Kingsland High Street, E8 2PB

Architects: George Coles (1915), FE Bromige (1937)

Access: Paid entry to film screenings

Official website:Rio Cinema

An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture by Sujata Burman & Rosa Bertoli is published by Hoxton Mini Press

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