Out of the wreckage of a terrible earthquake in 1931 the citizens of Napier, New Zealand rebuilt their city in the distinctive style of the period – Art Deco. Its features are instantly recognisable: geometric patterns with Egyptian and eastern influences, metal window frames (some semi-circular) set in stepped outlines, all rendered in pastels with architectural details picked out in a contrasting colour. Even the typeface used in shop and street names is indicative of the period.
The arresting sight of so many colourful, individual buildings constructed during the same period is both unusual and delightful, helped of course by the deep blue sky. Their history has tragic origins but the rebuilt city in its modern styling and brightly painted colours must have brought hope and a new beginning to a shattered community.
Today the city is a magnet for architectural tourists and visitors keen to see such a wonderful collection of Art Deco buildings in one place. A cultural delight.