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.

L20160315-DSC_8040-web-950x634L20160315-DSC_8047-web-950x634

L20160315-DSC_8019-web-950x634

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.

I20160315-DSC_8078-web-950x634

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.

Screen Shot 2018-07-15 at 12.00.51

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

communal_gardensl

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.

h1-13

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.

Read More »

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!

 

Read More »

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.

awning2-1-950x633Read More »

1950s textiles return to the British high street

In a recent victory for mid-century and retro fans alike, John Lewis has brought out a run of Lucienne Day designed cushions at John Lewis. The reasoning behind this return is twofold. Firstly, John Lewis has something of a history with Day – as she worked as a design consultant with the company for 25 years, ending in 1987. Secondly, it’s the centenary year of Lucienne Day’s birth, and the textiles form part of a retrospective of her life’s work.

 

The designs are original, such as the Calyx cushion (far right, in image below), which features abstracted flowers and was originally created for the Home Entertainment section of the Homes & Gardens Pavilion at the Festival of Britain in 1951.

johnlewis_73721026241422

There’s already strong demand for this collection, with some items already listed as out of stock. However, at around £50 per cushion, this is a tad more expensive than IKEA or a similar shop. I recently visited Habitat and found quite a few good bargains for cushions with a similar aesthetic. Whilst they’re not on sale right now, it might be a good idea to wait until after Christmas when they’ll inevitably be sales. Last weekend I saw this cushion in a shop for £10, and I’m kicking myself for not buying it there and then.

It’s also worth noting that there’s a 40% sale on at La Redoute, which have some fab looking mid-century style modular furniture.  Use the promo code BIG40 and get 40% off the base price. Again, wait until after Christmas and you’re likely to get better deals.

johnlewis_7372983122150

Images via John Lewis press office.

Mid-century Cape Cod retreat

Built as a summer house by Paul Weidlinger, the concrete pillars below form a low elevation at the higher end of the slope, but coming closer to the pond the building stilts out at such a height that the building looks like it’s floating over the pond. Open glass in the communal areas, along with the height, make this a perfect place I can imagine just sitting back and viewing nature from. The place was built back in the early 1950s, and was almost demolished until the Cape Cod Modern House Trust (CCMHT) stepped in a few years back. This is our first post back from an extended Summer break – enjoy!

Source: TheModernHouse

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.

1_20160823-DSC_0177-hires-RM-EDIT-950x6341_l-7-950x634Read More »