N is for Napier and other places worth a deco

I posted about the southern hemisphere gem, Napier on the East coast of the North Island of New Zealand as part of my Kia Ora series, recounting my travel there in November and December 2014. Hands up how many of you have heard of Napier? What about Helsinki? Or South Beach Miami? Or Budapest? Or Barcelona? Of course you have.

I know, this post is a cheat, sneaking around the A to Z rules but, sod it, Its my post and I’ll be sly if I want to…

And what is the link between these places? Well, for me a large part is the Architecture because they all have examples from the period that really appeals to me which is the first forty years of the twentieth century. Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Arts and Crafts, Frank Lloyd Wright (sorry but Corbusier sucks so not him).

Because, of all these gems, Napier is the most recent I visited I’ve include its pictures first (the ones from the original post and some more I edited out last time). Then I’ve added in some others.

The one thing the beauty in these cities did for me is make me look up, slow down, and take in everything on a smaller scale. Not for me the grand, often brutish cathedrals and civic priapism but the residential, the retail – that’s where buildings address themselves at a human level with their motifs and modest ornamentation. It’s not all look at me ism.


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there’s one like it in Bournemouth

Napier’s brilliance comes from its tragedy. In 1931 it was destroyed. First a huge earthquake and then an out of control fire. Despite the biggest economic depression then experienced it was rebuilt in three years. A miracle of both effort and style.


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In those few years Napier was transformed.

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Of the 160 new building built in that time 140 survive.

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They said ‘Go to the South island’. They said that’s where New Zealand is beautiful. Fools! Charlatans! Philistines! Visigoths!! Blackguards! Bashi-Bazouks!! Do not miss Napier.

South Beach Miami

I’ll admit to a cheat here; not only have I included a couple of besutiful buildings but also some of the extraordinary life guard huts that dot the beach… enjoy.

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 Beach HutsIMG_0094 IMG_0093 IMG_0092 IMG_0091 IMG_0090 IMG_0089


It’s not all Soviet era brutalist milk factories…



you cannot fail to enjoy Helsinki for its tidiness, the placidity and politeness of its people and the extraordinary buildings.

helsinki-2-069 helsinki 2

And Barcelona? The amazing Gaudi and his pervasive influence.  Cathedral topped with pineapples. I’ve not included pictures. Just go there. It is utterly compelling, almost the perfect city.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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16 Responses to N is for Napier and other places worth a deco

  1. Norah says:

    Nice.Nifty. Of course it’s your blog so you can bend your own rules. Nothing to say you can’t. Would be nonsense to not! I enjoyed seeing some of the Napier photos again. Other were new to me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. roweeee says:

    Great photos. It’s interesting how a town can become a time capsule. Speaking of time capsules, the Yound Ones are on TV at the moment. Some of it is painful but so good to see it again. Remember Nigel No Mates? Neil is a ball of laughs.


  3. lindahuber says:

    Nice. That’s a Hundertwasser house in Budapest, isn’t it? We have one near here too. Beautifully curvy, including the zebra crossing outside… http://www.markthalle-altenrhein.ch/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. noelleg44 says:

    Love Art Deco style – it strikes me as very classy! My head was on a swivel when we toured South Beach. Your pictures are just wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed the tour.
    Did you know there is a cubist building in Prague? It’s called the House of the Black Madonna.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. legreene515 says:

    I wrote about doubt, with the title “No Doubt.” Your blog, your rules! And Napier starts with an “N.” I didn’t realize Napier has so many art deco buildings. Beautiful architecture.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Charli Mills says:

    I was enthralled with Napier when you went to NZ and posted. The art deco is incredible and so dense. Barcelona? Almost the perfect city? Okay! I’ll find out one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Annecdotist says:

    Love all that art deco, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Rachel M says:

    I never went to Napier despite living in New Zealand for a number of years but I love Art Deco so I’m sure I would have liked it. I can’t help thinking that there’ll be another earthquake there at some point though and it won’t go well. The city is very close to the plate boundary which is just off-shore so there’ll be a tsunami at some point to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I fear you are correct. They built to code but as you know only too well from Christchurch, code can be an inadequate guide leaving aside it as 80 years ago anyway.


  9. Photos from my ‘hood. Nice to see!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: April, the difficult month | TanGental

  11. I lived a few kms from Napier and raised my children in that area, many of our elderly neighbours had lived through the quake and it’s aftermath. It’s a lovely area, but now, as a resident of the Far South, I have to say all the beauty is down here. If you haven’t toured the South Island you haven’t lived! 🙂 It’s said every natural delight found in the world can be found somewhere in this country. It’s also true that we straddle a couple of giant fault lines and anybody who comes here or lives here does so at their own peril [though tsunami’s of the giant sort are not actually that probable] It keeps the population manageable – and the scaredy-cats away .:-D

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Yep we visited the South too. Even Hartztown assuming that’s how you spell it ! If you dipped into my Kia Ora posts from December last year you would see what madness we got up to!


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