Paul Veysseyre (1896-1963) worked in Paris just before WW1. After his years as a soldier during the war, he was hired by Brossard-Mehdi institutions to work in China, and was soon appointed architect of the Shanghai Office. Veysseyre combined forces in 1922 with another French architect, Alexandre Léonard, focusing originally on small villa projects. One of their first big commissions was the Cercle Sportif French (today’s Okura Garden Hotel) in 1925. This was a sporting and social club, much loved by European ex-pats living in Shanghai. The third French partner, Arthur Kruze, joined them later.
Okura Garden Hotel, 1925-8
The new style tentatively emerged in Shanghai before the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris but was soon warmly encouraged by the huge response to Deco around the world. From 1921-1937, Leonard, Veysseyre & Kruze received many remarkable commissions eg the chocolate-coloured Bearn Apartments, full of vertical and horizontal lines. And the Willow Court Apartments and Midget Apartments. These architectural treasures were perfectly designed for Old Shanghai.
Alfred Magy Apartments, 1937
Sensing the difficulties that Europeans in China were going to meet, the architects left for Saigon in 1937. The good times for the French Concession ended in 1943, when the pro-German government of Vichy France gave up its concessions in Tianjin, Hankou, Guangzhou and finally Shanghai.
Willow Court Apartments, 1934
The book is based on family archives kept by two sons of Veysseyre in France, plus a complete advertisement in a 1934 local French newspaper, showcasing their best works and giving the profiles of the three name partners. Most of the Art Deco buildings that Paul Veysseyre and his architecture firm designed are still standing and can be visited; clearly architecture and preservation in 1920s-1930s Shanghai are of great interest now. Even if you have to remortgage your house or put your small children in to the Labour Market to buy this book, it may still be worthwhile.