Mad about Mid Century Modern? Would you love to live here?
Now, if you already love Mid Century Modern, there's no need to extoll the virtues of this style of architecture to you… The simplicity of line, the generosity of windows, the integrity of materials, the savvy use of open plan layouts (which involved clever use of semi-enclosed spaces within larger spaces, in contrast to the "chuck a big open space on the back of the house" style which has been all too prevalent in recent years) and most importantly, creating that connection between indoor and outdoor living through the use of courtyard planning & those afore-mentioned generous windows.
So if you, like me, love this style of architecture for its ability to provide a sunlight-filled, delightful-to-be-in home in which to live, then let's have a look at a house which is freshly on the market, which has retained all the glorious bones of the original Mid Century Modern hopes and dreams of the young architects who were practising at that exciting time just after WW2, when optimism for the future was paramount to the essence of architecture.
While the use of courtyards, as a means to provide a sun-trap in winter and a shady escape in summer, is not a recent architectural brainwave… ...(having been utilised in Ancient Greek house plans and before that, in Ancient Persian homes)... it was the young American architects practising in California, around the 1950s, who brought this idea into modern domestic planning.
They had been playing with such notions in the 1930s, in a few early designs, but the surge in home building of the 1950s accelerated the acceptance of this "Modern" style of planning.
And because Australia's climate is very similar to California's, it was a natural stye of architecture to adopt, again largely by the young architects graduating out of university after WW2.
Have a good look at this floor plan….to see how clever it is. The centre of the house is a corridor passing through 2 courtyards (one enclosed and one open) with a sleeping wing and a living wing at each end. The layout means that the garden is visible from every room of the house.
Here's that entry courtyard, complete with pergola, so the journey to the front door is a path through dappled-sunlight green shadows.
And here's the entry corridor, the link between the two original courtyards (although the one to the right has been enclosed to form a living room).
Love those original entry doors … …can you see the groovy starburst door handles? And I love the crazy paving of Mintaro slate… apart from being the perfect floor on which to play hopscotch it looks dramatically fabulous too.
Being influenced by Californian design, most MCM homes were pretty likely to have a swimming pool if at all possible. This one uses the same Carey Gully stone coping as appears in the front entry, also in crazy paving style, a great favourite of the architects of this style.
Ah…some more MCM classic elements appear here in the living room: a corner window, (allowing light in from joined elevations to capture that 3D sense of inside/outside connection) and of course a fireplace: the hearth of the home as preached by Frank Lloyd Wright in his early Prairie Home styles, which was to have such a large influence on the architects who followed, and a notion which became one of the hallmarks of the Mid Century Modern home.
I can imagine the doors to the deck and the courtyard being flung open, some deft fingers playing a little Schubert on that piano, and guests happily trotting about with a martini in hand, because these houses were designed with entertaining in mind.
It's a style of architecture which was well ahead of its time, and possibly one that we are only fully appreciating now. I could live in a MCM house in a heartbeat.
Would you love to live here?
property location :: 97 springbank rd clapham sa // details here