Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hobart City Art Deco Icon gets a facelift

The landmark (former) Hydro Electric Commission getting a makeover

Last week work commenced on repainting the former Hydro Electric Commission Building (now the Hobart City Council). When I took a closer look the paint going up was white, I hoped that it was just the undercoat! Contacting the Council, I was informed that the entire exterior of the building is being repainted, in the same colour scheme that exists now. I have been told it may look a lighter because the exterior is quite dirty as I've been informed the last time it was painted was some 30 years ago.

This landmark Art Deco building was designed in the late 1930s by A&K Henderson & Partners, a Melbourne based firm. It ranks as one of the most impressive examples of commercial Art Deco in Hobart and Tasmania. Streamline Art Deco buildings always look stunning on a street corners and the former Hydro Electric Commission building is a real joy to view.The central column lights up a neon yellow at night, it must have been a real eye opener back in the 1930s when motorists and passers by would have witnessed a massive new building the power harnessed by the construction of dams around the state; this building symbolised a new era in Industry and employment and power usage in the 20th Century.


  1. The building screams importance, as was the Hydro Electric Commission important.

  2. Yes indeed. I have often thought that Deco buildings like your Hydro Electric Commission Building symbolised a new era in progress and industry in the 1930s. Or in banking, insurance, newspapers etc.

    But you are quite right about something else as well. Streamline Art Deco buildings like this one look stunning on street corners. Your third photo is pretty impressive!

  3. Part of the building is also occupied by my employer (gov agency). About a year ago, I had to pop in for a couple of meetings, and the stairwell running to the top floor (at least partly) features a lovely deco bannister.

  4. walking the streets of hobart last week, I walked past deco and modernism and and more deco and modernism and contemporary and all the time thank goodness I see all these buildings in a different light now - in fact, now I actually see them! Shapes, line, structures that speak of different times, of now and the future. It made going to Service Tas and Centrelink and boring shopping so much more imaginative


About the project

Join me (Thomas Ryan Photography) on a photographic project documenting Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism from the 1930's to the 1980's. The entire project gallery of 1000+ images and counting can be viewed on my website under art projects. I have been undertaking this project for over a decade.

My portfolio of commercial and art projects can be seen on my website and I can be contacted here as well. All photographs are copyright of Thomas Ryan Photography. Unauthorised use is prohibited. Contact me for all enquires

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