Friday 25 July 2014

21 John Street WC1

It would be easy to dismiss 21 John Street as just another example of developer greed, sticking rudely above the elegant Georgian roofscape, but the standard of the architecture just about redeems it. The designer was Dennis Harrington, it was completed in 1938 and the style is pure Moderne.
The statues on attached pylons on either side of the main entrance are other redeeming features. Nude women hold an hour glass (left) and a magic square and astrolabe (right).
The items would indicate the offices were intended for a company with interests in navigation or instrumentation, but the block was built on spec so it would seem they were either chosen on a whim or simply because they were a standard design available from one of the big firms of architectural sculptors (I have so far been unable to establish who supplied them).
There was a lot of interest in magic squares at the time. This one is the pattern made famous by Durer - practically any combination of four numbers adds up to 34. There is another one on the NatWest Bank in the City.

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