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UNESCO New Zealand Tentative List - Napier Art Deco Precinct

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UNESCO New Zealand Tentative list
Napier Art Deco Historic Precinct
Southern hemisphere art deco style city

The Napier Art Deco Historic Precinct is part of the central business district of the City of Napier, located between the shoreline of Hawke Bay and the coastal margin of the Heretaunga Plains, Hawke's Bay, North Island.
Napier township was originally surveyed and laid out in the 1850s. Most of the town centre was destroyed on 3 February 1931 by a major earthquake (measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale) and the ensuing fires. The Hawke's Bay earthquake not only destroyed the centre of Napier, but caused radical changes to the surrounding landscape. It was a natural disaster of major proportions. This destruction resulted in a massive reconstruction of the town centre. Napier became New Zealand's (and indeed the world's) newest city with its own Southern Hemisphere version of Art Deco style. Due to the economic climate and the number of casualties caused by falling masonry and decorative features during the earthquake, the scale of the town centre was limited to one or two storeys and the buildings were decorated with low relief ornamentation. Reinforced concrete was used in construction and the use of older materials such as bricks was shunned. Ornamental motifs used on buildings reflect all of the themes prevalent in Art Deco design, and include authentic Maori designs on both exteriors and interiors of some buildings. These motifs are seen not only in exterior low relief stucco but also in interior plasterwork, leaded glass, metal grilles, flooring and joinery.
The central business district was reconstructed mainly over the two years following the earthquake, with planning decisions made by two government-appointed commissioners and an Earthquake Reconstruction Committee. Although the number of architects involved in the town centre reconstruction was relatively small with five main contributors, there is a wide variety of building styles in such a compact area. By the end of the 1930s, central Napier consisted almost entirely of buildings and landscaping of the previous 20 years. Because the creation of a completely new city centre halts the normal cycle of demolition and renewal, no changes occurred at all in central Napier until the 1960s. Buildings have been lost since then, but only a small proportion of the total stock.

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  • Model Number: whsN12
  • 83 Units in Stock


This product was added to our catalog on Friday 14 October, 2011.

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