Friday, 11 October 2013

Commonwealth House (aka One New Oxford Street) was built in the Moderne style in 1939. It fills the triangle at the junction of High Holborn and New Oxford Streets in London (note to location managers: check this place out for a background shot on your next Poirot shoot). I found a promotional film from 1961 that features this building (it's at if you're feeling geeky) and it looks exactly the same outside and, inside, featured all that burnished oak on doors and windowsills they were so fond of back then. Actually, a lot of that is still inside now.
It has some great details that, fortunately, haven't been overly messed with, like the metal window frames and neon lights in that lovely round font above the side entrance (below).
I ask myself why I like this style so much. I think maybe it reminds me of what was around when I was a kid and what was popular then. No, I'm not THAT old! But it takes a while for a style or fashion to completely wash away. Think of the glass skyscratchers that are being built now - they started doing that at least 40 years ago. Anyway, the styling of this building makes me think of old Bogart and Raymond Chandler-scripted movies from the 1940s. Comfort watching. A bit like hot, buttered cinnamon toast on a rainy afternoon. What do you mean, you've never had cinnamon toast? I will post my to-die for method one day soon. You will eat it while watching an old black and white movie, and you will be happy.
One of the very cool things about this building is that, as well as being a triangle outside, is has a matching triangular courtyard down the middle. So you can stand on one side and look across and see folks on the other side – and you can walk all the way around. Why is something like this so pleasing? Is one of life's mysteries.

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