Kent’s Mid-century treasure

Whilst Gerald Beech is best known for the Liverpool house Cedarwood – a prototype for future estates that drew tens of thousands of visitors but never saw mass-production – the architect also built another gem on the other end of the country. Broadstairs, in Kent, is a mid-century time capsule.

Broadstairs, built in the early 60s, was created for a family downsizing from a large and ‘stiff’ 18th century manor. The brief was to create “a more manageable home which still retained a sense of space”. In ‘The Architect & Building News’ journal, a critic wrote of the high central ceiling:

“the extension of part of the living room through two floors has created a strong element of vertical space which is apparent from all parts of the house and, with the stairway and bridge link pass through it, the accommodation on the first floor becomes an entity with the ground floor”

Later the same critic wrote of the way structural elements had been used to frame the divide between different areas:

“Exposed joists and beams have been used, and by giving careful consideration to their positions and direction of run, this structure is dominant in the spatial idea… The provision of such a modular discipline in the structure at an early stage during the building operation did much to encourage exact craftsmanship by the building operatives”

The front exterior is relatively modest and opts more for privacy than anything else. We start with the kitchen and dining area below.

Moving into the central living area we can see the space really does open up.

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Moving upstairs, we note a transition from the main living room to the bedrooms, and here a change of character. The house goes from being quite open downstairs and along the walkway, to more sheltered and snug.

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The gallery wall links the open living area – stretching the theme upstairs.

Image source is The Modern House, Streetview can be found here. I’ve created a map below for reference.

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Manygate lane: the secret mid-century estate in S-E London

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In a quiet commuter suburb of London, you can find a group of houses that more closely resembles midcentury Denmark or Sweden, than postwar England. The estate, built in 1964/5, was one of very few experiments of modernist housing by the private sector in Britain.

Designed by Swiss architect Edward Schoolheifer (employed by the Lyon Group), the houses are each internally arranged around a central ‘hub’ that includes the main living areas and very high and open glass windows. This follows the mid-century modern concept of blurring the division between inside and outside as it creates a very strong visual link to the garden.

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When the houses were completed they cost approximately double the average price for a three-bed house in London (£3,500). The proximity to Shepperton studios meant that it’s had a few star-studded residents, including Tom Jones (pictured outside his house), the singer Dickie Valentine (whose unfortunate car crash inspired a novel by the local JG Ballard), and rentals from Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger and Julie Christie. Scroll down or click through for two photo sets from houses recently sold in the area.

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The Christmas Barn

A festive treat this time. This building is modern-era (built 1972), but has some history behind it – hence the unusual name. A rare honour among modern-builds, this house was listed as ‘Grade II’ by Historic England. In a village outside the relatively small but world-renowned town of Cambridge, it’s a perfect mid-century end to the year.

It’s Christmas day here in England. It snowed earlier this month but none today unfortunately. Still rocking the festive spirit though!

 

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Retro to go: a 60s-styled Dorset beach hut

This small but strategically formed home, forms part of a larger estate with an original architect’s house that was built in 1964. The ‘garden house studio’, as the owners call it, was built more recently – in 2010 – as an outlet for the owner’s creativity and love of design. They are currently renting out the space for holidays. This is a short but sweet tour today, as mid-century styles have been very popular recently. Like this style? Check out this slick mid-century airport lounge, or have a peek at an American Cape Cod retreat.

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A must-see before & after conversion in Wiltshire

This is a really impressive makeover of what seems like an incredibly difficult space to work with. Somehow the architectural designer behind this – Ian Hill – managed to make a studio flat with shop attached and a shower in the hallway, somewhere welcoming and spacious to live in. You can see some original thumbnails from what the house used to look like below, before we move on.

The outside has merely been repainted, but it’s what inside that counts. Something I really appreciated was that there wasn’t any large-scale reworking with the actual structure or features of the building; the designer strategically moved a few things around and used lighter colours to complement what the space already had.

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The Ahm House

This is a treat of a home, designed in the mid-20th century by the Danish architect Jørn Utzon – the very same who designed the Sydney Opera House.  The house has an almost brutalist quality to it, but softened for suburbia; the roof is made up of one strong line that juts out from the flat garden – underlined with thick concrete beams.

In the featured image furniture from Denmark is featured – the country Jørn Utzon is from. I wondered whether to include this image, as it is clearly from a different time to the rest of the house. Is it the same home tour if it shows a ‘before’ picture almost disconnected to what the interior is now? However, I think it is important. The picture shows what kind of interior the architect could have expected at the time that it was being built. Two famous pieces by Arne Jacobsen are shown – the armchair on the left is a Swan chair and the group of armchairs away from the foreground are Egg chairs; what makes this interesting is the muted tones chosen for these chairs – in keeping with the house style. The photos below are shared, with permission, from The Modern House.

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An award-winning Victorian conversion from London with a must-see bathroom

From the entrance, this place looks like a typical Victorian house. There’s little you can see from the front, and the ubiquitous London Plane tree (the big one) outside doesn’t point to anything out of the ordinary – houses such as this being a relatively common but well-coveted staple in Britain.

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However, once you go in through the hallway and past the living room you’re greeted by something quite unexpected. A burst of light and open planned space that meets the garden. Click on the images below for a larger size.

This is what makes this house special. Staying on the lower levels, and going back towards the front of the house you’re met by something more traditional.

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You’re then thrust back into the new world, with a trendy study that’s part of the new conversion. This looks like such a perfect spot for concentration, or writing a book. The decoration is fairly minimal and the palette is limited, but there’s also a view of the trees which must be calming.

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You’ll also notice that there’s some light coming from the back, which is a nice touch. 20170406-DSC_5135-web-950x63420170406-DSC_5044-web-950x63420170406-DSC_5037-web-950x63420170406-DSC_5025-web-950x633

The bedrooms are also all lovely, with some nice accents to boot. They’ve all made good use of space, and the mirrors, white walls and bright colours, all liven up the rooms.

The real showstopper in this building though, is what’s at the top of the tower conversion. A magical bathroom (below) with a completely glass roof. I don’t use the word magical with any exaggeration. This bathroom was the cherry on top that made the house received a RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Award in 2008. An article in Grand Designs described the bathroom:

Upstairs the bathroom is more than just a room in which to groom. A small-scale bench in the shower room means you can sit while you shower, and on a clear night you can watch the moon traverse the sky through the glazed roof, from the comfort of a hammock.

New-builds always run the risk of being sterile, but this house is the opposite. It’s a place for late-night stargazing and leisurely late-afternoon lunches, with generous amounts of natural light and windows strategically placed to frame the natural surroundings

In the magazine Homebuilding & Renovating, more praise was given:

If there were a prize for best bathroom, [this] home in Hackney would easily win it. It’s rare that one finds a bathroom that multitasks, but Anne Katrine’s not only combines a magnificently stylish bathing area, but also has a space for exercising – complete with dumbbells – and hooks from which she can string a hammock to gaze up at the ever-changing sky through the room’s glazed roof

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Photos were taken, with permission, from The Modern House. This property was on the market at point of publication.