The man who invented the Deauville boards

90 years after their inauguration, these booths that the greatest fashion photographers and our visitors photograph all day long have become, with the beach and its parasols, the best known and most identifiable setting in Deauville.

Charles Adda is the architect. He was born in 1873 in Algiers. He died in Normandy in 1938 at the age of 65. After considering a career in the navy, Charles Adda arrived in Paris at the age of 20. Gifted for drawing, he turned to architectural studies. At the Ecole des Beaux-arts in Paris he follows the lessons of Victor Laloux, the architect of the Orsay train station. Four years later, a graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1897, he opened his own agency on rue Ampère (Paris 17th).

A native of Algiers, Charles Adda loved the sea. Born in a modest environment, he was fascinated by the society that frequented Deauville. His decisive meeting with the Duke of Quincey led him to work for a clientele with illustrious names: Boni de Castellane, the Duke of Gramont, the Countess of Greffulhe, the art dealer Georges Bernheim, the seamstress Jeanne Paquin, a regular in Deauville. ,… For which he builds luxury mansions.

At the same time, from 1903 to 1914, Charles Adda built numerous investment properties, most often in western Paris. The decorative references are traditional but the interior distribution of the space is modern.

After the Great War, when the Roaring Twenties began, in 1919 Charles Adda became the official architect of the Société d 'encouragement et des societies hippiques de Paris. He then designed the large reinforced concrete grandstand of the Longchamp racecourse, then that of Chantilly and several other racetracks in the Paris region.

An architect who loves and understands the world of horses and the world of his races could only be endearing for Deauville.

It is precisely through Deauville that Charles Adda will pass to posterity, by designing what remains his major work: the establishment of sea baths, nicknamed  The Pompeian baths, A set of buildings erected in two sections, between 1922 and 1929.

In 1921, the municipality of Eugène Colas, launched a competition for the creation of bathing cabins, which mobilized and put in competition fifteen architects. Charles Adda wins the competition.

His Pompeian baths project won over. By its architecture of course, and by the range of services that it brings together: shops, a café bar, a hairdressing salon, steam baths, a laundry room, a laundromat, and 250 cabins.

The whole construction of a single level, remains deliberately low, in order to free the horizon, from the terrace of the casino which faces the sea. 

Inside the courtyard of the baths, these cabins all have running water (hot and cold water) and are divided into several categories: from the foot rinse ... to the luxury bathtub.

They are grouped into islands delimited by a network of porticoed galleries.

The whole is stripped, with pure concrete forms, highlighted and especially in lights by the polychromy of superb mosaics, where blue dominates.

For this project, Charles Adda carefully chooses his service providers: Marcel Bergue, artistic ironworker, and above all Alphonse Gentil & Eugène Bourdet who make the mosaics.

This architectural ensemble was completed five years later in 1929 with the construction of new cabins, shops and the famous Sun bar.

The other great idea of ​​Charles Adda, On the sidelines of all the cabins, which rests on the courtyard of the sea baths, is to have designed, on the beach side, an alley of boards, 7 m wide and long of 643 meters.

As of its inauguration, this plank path, made of Azobé wood, will become: The Boards, the most famous promenade in Deauville.

By turning his back on the Anglo-Norman style and the regionalism that dominated the aesthetics of public buildings at the time, Charles Adda gave sea baths and Sun Bar a unique art deco style, mixed with orientalism, well in line with the visual world of the Roaring Twenties.


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Empress Eugenie wharf
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