Plaza Art Deco Gates

 

New Plaza style Art Deco front gates

The front gates to this Sydney suburban block of flats were looking very much the worse for wear so the owners decided to replace them with a set of Plaza Art Deco Gates. The Plaza style is our most popular design with its classic Art Deco fan motif complimenting the style of many older buildings built in the 1930’s and 40’s.

The old gates were heavily rusted so it was decided to spend a little bit more and make the new gates using stainless steel. This will ensure a very long service life with minimum maintenance.

stainless steel gate construction
Laying out the design in stainless steel

Firstly the design of each gate was drawn onto the setup bench and each part cut and fixed in position. Every part in the Plaza design is different. The cutting and bending of parts and setting up prior to welding everything together is a time consuming process.

Completed stainless steel gates
Completed double entry gates ready for painting

The photo on the right shows the assembled double entry gates with their support brackets ready for painting. There was another single entry gate built for the side entrance of the building. This was larger than the double entry gates so it was made separately.

Stabilising cracked brickwork
Stabilising cracked brickwork

Over the years there had been damage done to the brickwork in the fence of the building which left broken mortar and loose bricks in the side gate support column. These had been patched in a less than satisfactory manner. Before the new gate could be attached polyester masonary adhesive was injected into the damaged areas to stabilise the broken bricks and provide a solid support for the new gate.

Below shows the old gate compared to the new Plaza gate.

Old gate and new gate
Comparison of the old gate and new gate

The double entry main gates were installed with a minimum of effort as the brickwork was in a much better condition. Because of the age of the bricks it was decided to use Chemset studs to attach the gate support rails to the bricks. These studs put no localised stresses on the bricks unlike dynabolts which can crack old bricks if over tightened.

The completed double entry gates are shown below.

Double entry front gates
Double entry front gate comparison

Security Side Gate

Security side gate
New security side gate

A house in Marrickville had a timber security side gate to stop access down the side of the house. Being timber it was also impossible to see down the side of the house or see someone who may be wanting to get past the gate.

The owner decided she wanted a steel security gate made that had a similar design to the existing front gate of the property. It would also allow her to see who may be wanting to enter down the side of the house.

A dead lock was needed to fit into the steel support rails so the gate could not be opened without the key.

Exisiting front gate
Existing steel front gate

The existing gate (shown on the left) was used as a basis to develop the full height door design as shown above.

Fitting the dead lock to the steel SHS tubing required inserting 12mm steel plates into the 1.6mm walls of the steel tube so threaded holes could be cut to secure the lock catch attaching screws.

Finished lock attachment plate
12mm steel plate fitted to SHS steel and drilled and threaded for lock catch
securing steel plates
Top and bottom view of 12mm steel plate before fitting to SHS tube

Before and after view of the side security gate

Comparison of old vs new side gate
Before and after security side gate

Art Deco Folding Security Panels

Reagh Bar security panelsA recent project involved the design of Art Deco folding security panels to secure the alcoholic assets of a CBD Sydney bar. The Reagh Bar at the Castlereagh Boutique Hotel needed to leave their bar stock on the shelves behind the bar rather than having to put it all away each night and re-stock the following evening.

The Art Deco era Castlereagh Hotel opened on September 12th, 1927 and was built by the New South Wales Masonic Club. It was the first reinforced concrete building in the Sydney CBD and, at the time, was the tallest building in Sydney with 12 floors. Its construction set the precedent for future CBD buildings. It has been the base for the Masonic Club ever since and they wanted something sympathetic to the Art Deco era of the hotel for the folding security panel design.

Our PLAZA style Art Deco design was selected as the optimum style for the folding panels. The design brief was for security panels that could be easily locked and opened and not be too obtrusive. A set of six centre opening Art Deco style panels were designed that satisfied the brief while keeping the overall look light and airy. Clear polycarbonate panels were attached to the back of the folding panels to prevent access to the the bottle stock through the steel bars when the panels were locked closed.

The following photos illustrate the construction of the folding panels. To keep the visual impact of the bars to a minimum 20mm wide framing was chosen. To avoid having two adjacent 20mm vertical bars together making 40mm wide vertical sections 20x10mm solid steel verticals were used which presented a combined 20mm width overall. This made attaching the clear polycarbonate back panels difficult. Since each panel required forty screws to attach to the frames they had to be individually drilled and tapped into the solid 20x10mm sections to accommodate the fastening screws.

The geometry of the six folding panels was crucial and they had to be millimetre perfect so they would meet in the middle of the bar section and lock together.

The top and bottom sections of the frames were hollow 20x20mm SHS steel and only 1.6mm thick so 12mm thick sections had to be fitted into them so the pivots had something solid to screw into.

(Click on an image for a larger view.)

Pivot attaching points

Fitting 12mm steel plates into the top and bottom frame sections to attach pivots

Fitting hinges to bars

Vertical bar section hinges showing open/closed positions.

To keep the overall look light and airy the clear panels needed to screw directly to the back of the 10mm wide vertical bar sections. This required drilling and threading for 240 screws. To simplify construction the panel operation geometry was done before the design was welded into them.

Tapping holes

Drilling and tapping holes for attaching clear polycarbonate panels to frame

Panel geometry

Checking the geometry of the folding panels before fitting the design

Once the panel folding geometry had been confirmed the PLAZA design was jigged into place in the frames and welded in position.

Laying out the design in a jig before welding everything together

Completed side with design in test frame to double check geometry

The clear polycarbonate panels were attached after all the welding was completed. To accurately drill the screw holes in the panels dummy screws with sharpened heads were fitted into the screw positions and the polycarbonate was hit lightly with a hammer over each screw point to indicate where the holes should be drilled. Preliminary testing of the panel operation is shown in the video below.

Polycarbonate panel fitting

Fitting polycarbonate sheets to back of frames

All polycarbonate panels fitted and fitted to test frame to check alignment

The folding panels are supported and slide inside tracking sections at the top and bottom. The bottom tracking can be removed when the panels are stowed open on each side. When closed the panels are secured together with a pivoting drop bolt. The operation of the panels is shown in the video at the end of the post.

Security panels closed

Installed panels closed

Security panels opened

Installed panels opened

Reagh Bar security panels

Front view of closed panels

Front view of opened panels

Removable Window Security Bars

removable window security bars

The Art Deco style removable window security bars

A client wanted some Art Deco style removable security bars for her bathroom windows. Because it was a block of flats she wanted the removable bars mounted on the inside of the windows so that the outside appearance of the building wasn’t affected.

The security bars use a simple ODEON Art Deco design which is mirrored in the opposite window to achieve a more balanced look.

The removable bars are held in position by brackets fixed into the bottom of the window frames and locked in position by two standard window locks attached to the top section of the security bar frames. The bars can be removed by removing the two pins in the locks and pivoting them forward and out of the bottom brackets.

The pictures below illustrate how the removable bars are fitted/removed.

windows before security bar installation

Bathroom windows before security bar installation

Bottom brackets to hold security bars in position

Bottom brackets to hold security bars in position

Detailed view of a bottom bracket which secures the base

Detailed view of a bottom bracket which secures the base

security bars into the bottom brackets

Fitting the security bars into the bottom brackets

Locking the bars in position

Locking the bars in position with the top securing pin

securing pin locked in position

The second bar securing pin locked in position

ODEON Art Deco Security Doors

Art Deco security doors

ODEON style Art Deco security doors on an Inner city semi.

These ODEON style Art Deco security doors make an attractive additional to this turn of the century Sydney Semi.

The double doors stand three metres tall and mirror the arched entry to the verandah. The high centre opening doors create an impressive and expansive entrance to the house.

The top and bottom drop bolts used to secure the left hand side door have been fitted inside the door frame and operate in a similar manner to a rifle bolt with the operate knobs fitted near the centre of the door. With the right hand side door locked the drop bolts are also locked as they can only operate with the right hand door open.

The all steel framework is painted a metallic grey and fitted with plain dead lock. The ODEON is one of several designs unique to DecoWorks Pty Ltd.

Another view of the ODEON style Art Deco security doors

Another view of the ODEON style Art Deco security doors

The silhouette of the ODEON security doors

The silhouette of the ODEON from the hallway of the house

Art Deco Front Gate

Plaza style Art Deco front gate

Plaza style Art Deco front gate

This Plaza style Art Deco front gate makes a stylish entrance into the new front courtyard of this terrace house.

In collaboration with the client the standard Plaza design was adjusted to suit the new front courtyard wall which replaced the old fence of the terrace house.

The addition of the garden bed along the front of the wall helps create an attractive overall design to the new wall.

 

gate silhouette looking from courtyard

View looking out from the courtyard

Another view of the courtyard entrance

Another view of the courtyard entrance

Illuminated Organ Console Surrounds

Wurlitzer with an illuminated surround

Wurlitzer with an illuminated surround

During the silent movie era a live musical accompaniment was often used to add atmosphere and drama to the film being shown. This was usually provided by a piano or, in the larger theatres of the day, a pipe organ. The organ console was mainly kept out of sight as there was little reason to do otherwise. With the advent of the talkies in the late 1920’s the role of the theatre organ changed to one of a showman’s instrument for musical entertainment. During intermission an organ console would appear from nowhere, usually from below the stage on a lift, with an enthusiastic performer milking the instrument for everything it was worth. At the end of the performance the organist would, with great bravado, sink back below the stage waving goodbye to an appreciative audience.

The Plaza Theatre, Sutton

The Plaza Theatre, Sutton (from the Ivor Buckingham Collection)

Unfortunately a timber paneled organ console quickly becomes boring to watch – even in a coloured spotlight. Many consoles were mounted on a revolve to add a bit of movement and the organist had to become quite animated at times to maintain the attention of the audience. The personality of the organist and organ became the big draw card and the organ console itself was becoming a secondary aspect to the performance. There was a need to make it a more integral part of the performance .

The Compton organ with illuminated surround at the Odeon Theatre, Swiss Cottage

The Compton organ with illuminated surround at the Odeon Theatre, Swiss Cottage (from the Ivor Buckingham Collection)

The John Compton Organ Company in England created many exciting and innovative new designs for organ consoles using exotic timbers and sculpted panels. The first major new design was a French-style console in 1930 which bore more than a passing resemblance to a Wurlitzer.

However the big innovation happened in September 1932 when “The World’s First Luminous Organ” opened at the Capital Theatre in Forest Hill. The idea took flight immediately and demand for the new illuminated surrounds soared. Many fine examples of these consoles can be found in the “Stories of London” blog. Here can be found many examples of the organs made by John Compton. The Compton List is a detailed record of the 261 theatre organs built by the John Compton Organ Company, and installed in theatres, town halls, and studios throughout the UK and overseas before and, in a few cases, just after the Second World War. It is the result of continuous research and documentation begun early in 1990 by Ivor Buckingham.

Donald MacKenzie playing "The Duchess" at the Odeon in Leicester Square.

Donald MacKenzie playing “The Duchess” at the Odeon in Leicester Square.

The use of illuminated surrounds was a predominately British phenomenon which was not used in the United States or elsewhere. The most famous instrument, known as “The Duchess”, is located at the Odeon Theatre in Leicester Square. The surround was a special and it can be seen in this youtube video with Donald Mackenzie playing the signature tunes of the presidents of the Cinema Organ Society (COS) at a concert on the 25th August 2014. The audience were joined by members of The Cinema Organ Society who were celebrating their 60th anniversary.
the Rainbow style surround at the Gaumont Theatre in Chelsea

Terrence Casey with the Rainbow style surround at the Gaumont Theatre in Chelsea (from the Ivor Buckingham Collection)


As of 2015 there are only a few theatre organs still in use in Sydney. The Cremorne Orpheum on Military Road is the only theatre providing regular intermission entertainment during screenings. The Orpheum Theatre is the jewel in the crown of Art Deco theatres in Australia much to the credit of its owner, Mike Walsh. The Wurlitzer console itself is a white and silver paneled unit mounted on a revolve which rises up from under the stage floor. Many of the polished consoles were painted ivory or white to make them look better under coloured spotlights. In the city this happened to the organs of the Regent, Plaza and Capitol theatres. This treatment was also done to some of the suburban theatre organs as well. At the State the console was ivory from new.

Other theatre organs that still exist around Sydney include the following;
– Orion Theatre (Campsie) : Ex-Sydney Capitol Theatre (Wurlitzer – owner TOSA)
– Marrickville Town Hall : Ex-Prince Edward Theatre, Castlereagh Street (Wurlitzer – owner TOSA)
– Epping Baptist Church : Ex-Duke of York Theatre (later the Odeon), Eastwood (Christie)
– Anglican Church (West Ryde) : Ex-Kings Theatre, Gordon (Christie – owner TOSA)
– State Theatre ; Being restored – currently unplayable (Wurlitzer)
– Wesley Theatre, Pitt Street: Ex-Lyceum Theatre on the same site (Christie)

The Theatre Organ Society of Australia (TOSA) organise regular recitals at some of these venues so these marvelous instruments can be heard.

A few years ago Decoworks submitted a proposal to build an illuminated surround for the Orpheum Wurlitzer to give it a more Art Deco feeling in keeping with the overall theme of the theatre. The story of its design and final submission pictures can be found here.

Regal Art Deco Security Door

Regal Art Deco security door installation

Regal Art Deco security door installation

The Regal Art Deco security door is a new design from DecoWorks. It is based on an Art Deco style leadlight window in the clients house which I thought would work really well as a security door. After seeing the design (based on the leadlight window) the client decided to go ahead and have it built.

The door is totally unique and is a great addition to the look of the house. The radiating fan and chevron motifs seem to express a burst of energy upwards from the bottom pyramid motif giving the design an exciting and uplifting feel.

Although the Regal is a complicated design the extra effort involved in its realisation is more than offset by its striking appearance. The door has an integral insect screen to keep out insects on a hot day when the front door is left open allowing a breeze to flow through the house.

Assembling the Regal security door on its template

Starting assembly of the Regal security door

Fitting door side support and hinges

Fitting door side support and hinges

Undercoated Regal Art Deco security door

Undercoated Regal Art Deco security door in its test frame

Silhouette of Regal door

Silhouette of the Regal Art Deco security door looking out from the hallway