Posted by: christinelaennec | February 1, 2012

Art Deco Aberdeen

Last summer, I posted about a beautiful Art Deco building in Aberdeen, Rosemount Square.  Recently I posted a photo (third one down) that shows three periods of architecture including another Art Deco building.  So I thought I would show you a few more while I’m at it.  Here is a building that I presume dates from the 1930s, on Union Street.  I like the proportion of the middle windows, and the “pleats” in the stonework:

The Amicable House building, Aberdeen

And here is the building that houses something of an Aberdonian institution, Slaters.  Slaters is a UK-wide menswear retailer.  The joke in Aberdeen is that its name, when pronounced with a local accent and glottal stop, is exactly like the well-used expression that Aberdonians use to bid someone a friendly farewell (s’la:er! = see you later).  The building, which predates Slaters itself, carries the date of 1937.  I always wonder whether the people who designed and built it had a feeling that a global cataclysm was about to unfold, or whether, like so many people then, they thought it could never happen again.

The front of Slaters, Aberdeen, built 1937.

There are beautiful curved walls of windows extending from either side of the central entrance:

The North-East corner of Slaters, Aberdeen.

My “Winter Sights” photograph shows the other side of the building, i.e. looking down the street to the left of the entrance.

I’m not a huge fan of 1930s style, but I do appreciate the ideals of natural light and streamlining.  I know that many factories were redesigned at this time with walls of windows to let in light for the workers.  And the curves, like the horseback beauty on the Rosemount Square building, are very pleasing.  I also find it interesting to see that, just as Aberdonians carved granite into curlicues in the 19th century, they brought their mastery to this new style.  I do enjoy seeing these graceful granite buildings in a city that’s otherwise very Victorian.  There aren’t many of them, and I’m glad they have survived.



  1. A feast for the eyes, Christine. One wonders what our legacy will be.

  2. wow, that is just so crazy. It makes me think of Miami, not Aberdeen. Do you know why it was introduced to Aberdeen and is it anywhere else in Scotland? Naturally, it would seem like granite buildings should be square but to have curved granite is pretty amazing. Food for thought … thanks, Christine!

  3. Amazing! I always say that it takes an incomer to see things. I had a big discussion with a local re the tourist industry here. “What tourism, theres nothing here for them to look at.” Red rag to a bull.
    We used to give out a leaflet, Aberdeen’s Granite Trail, I wonder if these 30s buildings were featured. I will try and find the leaflet.

  4. A very interesting style. I do love the windows and the black clock above the door! This style of industrial ‘chic’ is all the rage here in the states now. Would it be considered Art Deco, or is that another era? I am not knowledgeable about architecture. I do love your granite in all it’s forms. Such an amazing city. Thank you for sharing it with all of us, the ‘virtual tourists’! xx

  5. I’ve never been to Aberdeen so thank you so much for sharing … there’s one or two Art Deco buildings in my hometown of Newcastle – one is now the Co-op, another a nightclub, another (the former Wills Cigarette Factory) is now flats and another the People’s Theatre to name a few.

  6. I love the dark ‘Slate’ appearance and the clean lines of the Art Deco. I love the photos the light is just right


  7. Thankyou for sharing these. I used to be always in too much of a hurry to look at them!

  8. I love Art Deco, the Hoover building in London is another good example for the architecture of that time and ‘my man’ works in London’s oldest Art Deco Building, Cunard House. xx

  9. It’s somewhat unfortunate that almost all of the lovely buildings in the middle of our town are now footed with commercial properties on street level. Union street is great to look at, from the first floor up, but an absolute eyesore at street level. Hadn’t really noticed Amicable House as it’s own, unique, building before.

  10. This may be the closest I get to Aberdeen (though I certainly hope SCOTLAND is in the not too distant future) and I enjoyed the Art Deco tour. I clicked to enlarge the photo to check out what “odd-bins” might be. I think I rather like Art Deco (though maybe in moderation). A whole street of it would make a good movie set for post WWI…

  11. your granite in Abedeen always looks so clean. do they work at it or does it naturally stay clean? I don’t ever see any scaffolding on the buildings in your pictures.

  12. Mmmm, I love 1930s style and granite wears it so well. Edinburgh is very dull by comparison – all boring medieval and pseudo medieval plus Georgian, then veering into Victorian. (You can tell where my heart is!)

    Slaters for me always makes me thing of, well, slaters. Called ‘cheese logs’ in Reading, I believe. Wood lice to the rest of the world.

  13. Thanks to all for your comments and your interest!

    Jill, I have a copy of the Granite Trail leaflet, I must go dig it out myself. Yes, clearly Aberdeen does have a lot to offer tourists, but it doesn’t seem to realise it.

    ajb, I don’t think the Art Deco buildings get washed any more than granite buildings from other periods. I think granite does wear well, and look clean, even if it isn’t particularly, because it has quite a lot of mica in it. The granite does sparkle in the right light!

    Paragraph Film Reviews, I agree with you about how unsightly the retail ground floor in Aberdeen can be. It seems like nearly half the shops on Union Street are empty with To Let signs on them now.

    Martin – I shudder to think!

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