The Sporting d’hiver and modernity in the 1930s
The Belle Epoque architectural style has had a tremendous influence in Monaco, where all of the architecture is in fact a tribute to this magnificent era that preceded the First World War.
But let’s take a look at the very heart of Monaco: the Place du Casino. Everywhere you look, the Casino, the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo and the Café de Paris are covered with balustrades, sculptures and rounded forms. In this profusion of curves, one building stands out with its square, straight lines: the Sporting d’Hiver, which was inaugurated in 1932 and has since become the administrative headquarters of the Société des Bains de Mer.
The architect, Charles Letrosne, known in Paris for the remarkable modernity of one of his creations, the Zoo of Vincennes, wanted the Sporting d’Hiver to be practical. He was inspired by the modernism of the time, and the Weimar-based Bauhaus style in particular, which had been revolutionising architecture for the past ten years. The Sporting d’Hiver was created to provide a functional and luxurious ambiance to the best and the brightest amongst international gamblers. It offered gaming rooms, exhibition rooms, halls for shows and restaurants all on the same premises, based on the concept of a private club such as the ones in London.
The Sporting d’Hiver is decidedly practical but without sacrificing luxury or glamour, illustrated by the precious wood and crystal chandeliers adorning the walls. It is also decidedly modern, a sign of the end of the Belle Epoque style and heralding a new era as promising as the last.
Even today, the Sporting d’Hiver is testament to the fact that Monaco has always done much more than simply follow trends: it has anticipated them.