The Auckland Civic Centre.

Auckland, New Zealand (North Island)

Located near the top of the North Island of New Zealand, Auckland is the country’s largest and most populous city, with roughly a quarter of the population. Though not as rich in variety as urban Hawkes Bay, Auckland has some of the largest surviving Art Deco buildings in New Zealand. Also worth noting is the fact that the city’s many suburbs have some interesting Art Deco houses in them.

Auckland Art Deco Building 1: The Civic Centre

The Civic Centre in the heart of Auckland.

The 1929 Auckland Civic Theatre is a rare Art Deco survivor having maintained both its exterior and atmospheric interior intact. Located at 269 Queen Street at the corner of Wellesley Street, the architects Bohringer, Taylor & Johnson made good use of the site developing it into an impressive, corner clock tower. Able to seat 2,378 people, it went through renovation and conservation work in the late 1990s and continues to present theatre and live music.

Auckland Art Deco Building 2: Senior College of Education

The Senior College of Education building.

There are some outstanding Art Deco motifs along the upper part of this façade at 66 Lorne Street. They feature the abstract fountain forms originally from French designers, and adopted globally, particularly in the United States. This building was once the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of New Zealand, and has also been a car showroom and garage as well as a factory for home appliances. It later became the Office of State Advances, which subsequently became known as the Housing Corporation and Housing New Zealand. In the mid-1990s it became the Senior College of Education.

Detail showing Art Deco spirals and zigzags.

Auckland Art Deco Building 3: MLC Building

The MLC tower.

MLC stands for the Mutual Life Corporation, and this is an example of late Art Deco, the building being constructed at the end of the 1950s. Positioned majestically at 380 Queen Street it was constructed on the former site of the “Trocadera” dinner and dance club. The MLC Building became the tallest building in Auckland when it was completed in April 1957. More recently it has become a four-star Art Deco style hotel.

Detail of the top of the MLC building.

Auckland Art Deco Building 4: Smith and Caughey’s Department Store

Smith and Caughey’s on Queen Street.

Smith & Caughey’s at 253-261 Queen Street is Auckland’s oldest department store. Started as a drapery and hat store in 1880 by Marianne Smith (Miss Caughey), it was a success and she was soon joined by other family members including her husband, Mr Smith. It grew and evolved into a family department store and the expanded Art Deco version of it was designed by an American named Roy Lippincott. It was constructed 1927-29 and has survived intact with the Smith & Caughey’s department store inside. One wonders whether the façade was ever a brighter colour.

Auckland Art Deco Building 5: Giffords Building

Giffords Building with its Classical, fluted pilasters.

Sitting at 25 Vulcan Lane at the corner of High Street this 1929 building has a Classical look, and also has some excellent Art Deco motifs on it. Possibly constructed for Alfred Gifford, a successful Auckland tailor, the architect M.K. Draffin made good use of the corner site.

Art Deco spirals with a floral background.

Auckland Art Deco Building 6: Landmark House

Landmark House.

Constructed 1927-1930 for the Auckland Electric Power Board, Landmark House was an exotic tower for its day. The architects Wade and Bartley came up with some unique decorative ideas which at a glance suggests the Neo-Gothic, but up close are as eccentric as Gaudi. Above all it was a rejection of the still pervasive use of Neo-Classicism in favour of something completely new. Designed originally for the Auckland Electric Power Board, the building’s fascinating façade was lit at night with shafts of light.

Auckland Art Deco Building 7: Auckland House

Home is an Auckland suburb.

The doors and windows on this medium sized Auckland house look original. The overlapping bands on the parapets are particularly attractive.

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