Roots of Style: Midcentury Designs Respond to Modern Life
While the architectural profession created several distinctive styles of residential design before World War II, it wasn’t till the mid-20th century which Americans embraced new lifestyles that caused a completely new architectural style. The war resulted in a housing shortage in the U.S., and Europe needed to rebuild. Europeans preferred to revive their historical past, while many gifted modernist architects moved from Europe to America (others had left prior to the war) and found an eager audience.
Regardless of the popularity and importance of contemporary design, mid-20th-century home building still contained a variety of fashions, though their form and nature evolved according to changing lifestyles and building practices. Colonial revival, Spanish diverse and several other designs were developed during this period.
These styles were more specifically influenced by contemporary design theory and new ideas for how contemporary families wanted to reside.
It’s important to note that, as always, elements of one style are often adapted to a different completely different fashion. Some designs may even be thought to have distinct tastes nevertheless remain a different single class — as is the case with minimalist conventional homes and split levels.
These initial three homes resemble their predecessors largely in a couple of information or in shape, but are less specific in their articulation. Though this first house was constructed in the 1930s, it could easily be compared to a lot of vernacular examples throughout the country. Notice the double-hung windows, characteristic of colonial revival nevertheless lacking muntins (which split the window panes to smaller segments). Additionally, it has a lesser side-gabled roof pitch, but there’s a steeper forward-facing gable having an extension comprising the entrance, a trait found in American Tudor houses.
A long front porch and flanking gables, and a side-gabled principal body with dormered roof vents, give this house its own character. The windows are the double-hung type, as in the previous case. Clapboard siding and minimal trim are attributes common to dozens of homes constructed during the mid-20th century.
This two-story version feels darkened, particularly because of the shutters, but the entrance is not classically detailed, and the elevation is slightly asymmetrical. Its kind has a shed roof wrap the second degree to cover the entrance porch and part of a room, along with an extension of this single level into the right — characteristics which can be found on many suburban homes across the U.S.
Can You Live in a Minimalist Traditional Home?
Bud Dietrich, AIA
possibly the most common of 20th-century U.S. regional fashions is the ranch. Similar to other fashions of the age, examples could be contemporary, traditional, Spanish or rustic. The style originated in California around 1930; architect William Wurster is credited with producing a lot of its influence.
Most fascinating about the style is that it’s a synthesis of Spanish colonial, Craftsman and Prairie architectures incorporating a semirural lifestyle determined by the automobile. Its mid-20th-century proliferation coincided with the growth of the suburbs all across the U.S., when property was cheap as well as an expanding highway system created commuting a new method of life.
Emblematic of this style, this house rests peacefully on a wide, green lawn. Ordinarily, a long rectangular strategy is centered on a large square parcel with the extensive side facing the road, leaving a spacious front yard and backyard. Roofs may be gabled, like this one, or hipped, or even a mix of the two, in which a gable sits atop a hip.
Kaufman Homes, Inc..
This hipped version echoes the Prairie type with wide eaves and a huge, masonry chimney. Notice the half-height stone-veneer walls with wood siding above, further exaggerating the flat lines of this style.
Robinette Architects, Inc..
Important to the style is also a covered terrace on the rear elevation, as seen in this case. This was an obvious contrast to the Prairie and Craftsman homes, which frequently had generous porches facing the road. This terrace is much like the private-facing porches or loggias of Spanish colonial architecture.
The proliferation of air conditioning and swimming pools, in addition to the importance of a personal, fenced backyard, eliminated the taste for front porch.
Merrick Design and Build Inc..
Although this style is more correctly a class and may be implemented in a number of fashions, it’s presented separately because of its kind, and its significance, for the numbers of regional variations which exist.
As suburban development quickly spread after World War II, builders adapted to rolling bucolic settings by putting garages, or less formal spaces, at lower elevations over the landscape. Putting another floor only a couple of feet higher and adjacent to the reduced degree produced a sensible transition from support regions to formal living spaces. Bedrooms and bathrooms frequently are placed on another level above the bottom, establishing a gentler connection between the public and private spaces of the house.
In this remodeled minimalist conventional split degree, a prominent entrance porch has been added to set up a more substantial experience for the visitor. Notice the crossing gabled roof types. Frequently in the split-level mode, the greater degree has a front-facing gable, while the lower part runs from side to side. This further enhances the branch of amounts.
WORKSHOP8 architecture planning design
This Denver split-level house has been converted into a contemporary and chic abode. Notice the single-car garage on the primary level, a variation of the previous case, though the first roof formation is nearly identical. Also smart is the stepped landscape, relating well to the subject of this split level.
This remodeled contemporary split in Virginia exemplifies the chance for vaulted ceilings on the primary level. This theme is frequently in California suburbs on contemporary and Mediterranean-style houses, in which you enter a foyer, locate a living room to a side and locate a center stairway ascending, with the vaulted ceiling into the top level.
California Contemporary/Midcentury Modern
This style developed chiefly out of this Case Study House program started in 1945 in Southern California, also out of mid-20th-century improvements built by Joseph Eichler. Case Study architects embraced the contemporary motion, in which precedents were eschewed in favor of minimalism and efficacy, akin to International style.
Eichler employed several architectural firms to design wood post and beam structures which allowed the placement of large expanses of doors that were adjoining, open floor plans and seamless relationships with the outside. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Alexander Construction Company filled Palm Springs with hot and distinctive modern-style holiday homes that established a flourishing and fashionable desert oasis.
Although there were many different roof forms used in contemporary styles, this house indicates the common very low-sloped gable edition. Notice the mixture of substances: vertical groove wood siding, wood posts and beams, linear expanses of concrete and glass block walls (stacked), assimilated at a Mondrian-like composition.
Gary Hutton Design
Indicative of this style is structural transparency, as may be seen in this Eichler-built house. Exposed rafters encourage a gabled roof, where the tongue and groove roof decking becomes a key architectural element in the expression of its style. Further, beams supporting the flat roof portion extend from inside to out, detailed here with clerestory windows placed between them.
See more of this revived Eichler about the water
Bernard Andre Photography
Higher-style examples of this period involved expressive structures, as evidenced by this Rancho Mirage, California, home constructed in 1960. The open and free-flowing spaces of those houses symbolized the ambitious and progressive values synonymous with cultural changes as well as the prosperity of the times.
A fascinating side note to midcentury modern architecture is that Palm Springs hosts an annual modernism week every year in February that attracts fans from around the world. The week includes parties, displays, tours and lectures of important modern homes.
Malcolm Davis Architecture
Sea Ranch, California, is the birthplace of shed-style dwellings. In the mid-1960s the MLTW partnership, which comprised noticed architects Charles Moore and William Turnbull, Jr., made a series of condominiums and homes for an isolated Northern California coastal development.
Responding to a regional aesthetic of big wooden barns with wood-shingled roofs, the architects cleverly borrowed native cues to mould their creations. The resulting architecture defined a particular type of contemporary design that departed from the rectilinear — and frequently cold — International fashion, offering a warmer and subtler contemporary theme.
This newer house in Sea Ranch follows all of the characteristics originally established. This style can be found across North America, largely in architect-designed custom houses constructed in the late 1960s through about the mid-1970s.
The readily identifiable shed style is evident in this North Carolina house. The combination of several shed forms and other flat-roof portions is typical. Picture windows are placed to frame exterior views, and clerestories bring in daylight at vaulted ceilings.
Elliott + Elliott Architecture
This house illustrates the shed design’s suitability to a variety of settings and climates. Notice the shingled siding on this case, which nicely echoes the common materials of the region and differentiates the house from the California cousins.
What’s next: The consequences of conservation and market conditions. Trends in house design began to change around 1975, following the price of energy ballooned. The taste for contemporary architecture diminished, and more conventional styles began to dominate vernacular building. California embraced strict energy codes in 1978, which foreshadowed the taste or requirement of these codes for the remainder of the country.
Most house building for the last 30 years has produced some type of previously recognized style. It’s the exception that architects create an entirely new vocabulary for a client; they are more frequently limited by market conditions for most of their job, necessary to guarantee the achievement of the actual estate developers who employ them.
Notice that not many houses are actually designed by licensed architects. Most house builders follow an established native vernacular, which conforms to local building customs. Another important phenomenon is that now that there’s an enormous inventory of home that was constructed over the previous hundred years; remodeling existing structures comprises a considerable element of the home building market.
The recent enchantment with midcentury modernism has included another stylistic interpretation into a very long collection of fashions available to homeowners. Advances in technology and an increasing emphasis on sustainable design promise to invent still another specific architectural expression — and that definition has not yet been determined.
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