In 1922 Alexandre Léonard and Paul Veysseyre, working freelance for the Shanghai firm of Ledreux, Minutti & Cie, designed a new building for the Cercle Sportif Français (CSF). Rather than continue their freelance arrangement the two young French architects decided to form their own company, A Léonard & P Veysseyre à Shanghai. Ledreux & Minutti took legal action to retain the CSF drawings but ultimately Léonard & Veysseyre were declared the rightful owners of the project design. Construction began in December 1923 continuing through to 1926.
The club wound up its membership in 1955 when it was clear that there was no place for such an institution in Mao Zedong's China. In any case private ownership of property had been made illegal the previous year and shortly after the CSF closed its accounts the building was taken over by the authorities.
It's not known how the CSF survived the worst of the Cultural Revolution but somehow it did and today the clubhouse forms part of the Okura Garden Hotel. While many areas of the old CSF have been altered and found new uses within the hotel, the magnificent oval-shaped ballroom is virtually unchanged.
Undoubtedly the most striking feature of the space is the enormous multi-coloured light but there are many other deco features around the room.
The 1st floor landing, just outside the ballroom, also boasts a wealth of deco features including nude female figures and geometric patterns on the columns.
Shanghai's Art Deco Master: Paul Veysseyre's Architecture in the French Concession by Spencer Dodington & Charles Lagrange
I've heard that this structure is not actually a water tank. It is probably more accurately referred to as a reservoir but to my uneducated eyes it looks like a water tank so that's what I've called it. To my mind a reservoir is an open body of water, at least that's what I picture in Australia, but I can also see that an enclosed container such as this can also be a reservoir but frankly, who care! For a purely functional structure it's got some nice decoration.
As you can see from the wording above the door it was built in 1937 for the City of Baltimore Bureau of Water Supply.
There is a lovely band of chevrons running around the top of the wall just below the domed roof and the regularly spaced concrete ribs are topped with ziggurat style decoration.
MELBOURNE ART DECO
In 2009 Robin Grow published a book on Melbourne Art Deco, with images largely supplied by David Thompson. The book quickly sold out and he is pleased to say that it has now been re-published by Brolga Press, with updates, errors corrected and a new cover.
Best of all, it is selling for about $25 in the shops and on-line. Art Deco & Modernism Society members can purchase a copy from me for $22, (includes postage within Australia). For overseas orders please email for postage rates. Contact me at email@example.com if you are interested, and advise if you would like the book to be dedicated and/or signed.