In 'Vers Une Architecture', published in the mid 1920s, Le Corbusier wrote about the inspiring qualities of the external design forms of Cunard's Aquitania. Since then nautical design inspired a great deal of innovative architecture on terra firma. Simultaneously, the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs made a broad range of eclectic modern styles fashionable - particularly in the commerical world, whereas Modernism with a capital M, already the design aesthetic of the pre-Stalinist Soviet Union, was associated with social reform, internationalism and a Marxist ideology. In passenger ship design, however, the picture was complicated by a variety of factors. According to Orwell, ships were seen to represent utopian visions of future paradises - and so represented the ideals of Modernism perhaps more effectively than any structure on dry land ever could. On the other hand they were equally powerful statements of imperialism and of commercial pride. This book will examine the development of the Modern Movement in passenger ship architecture in the twentieth century, ranging from small excursion vessels to liners, cruise ships, ferries, and, where necessary, freight vessels.
Philip Dawson is a writer and photojournalist, specialising in commercial shipping and transport. He is the author of numerous books including the highly-acclaimed tribute to the P&O cruise liner Canberra: In the Wake of a Legend and also Conway's successful volume on the history, design, development and enduring mystique of ocean liners; The Liner: Retrospective & Renaissance, published in 2005.