Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Suburban Modern

When one thinks of MCM design in Ottawa, certain areas may immediately come to mind, such as Alta Vista, Qualicum, Rothwell Heights, etc. But there are certain areas outside of the Greenbelt, where there are great examples of MCM design.

Part 1 in a series: Kanata

While Beaverbrook may be the most noted Kanata community for MCM design, Glen Cairn, has some notable examples as well. While there were many different builders when Glen Cairn was begun in 1963, most only built a few houses and then left the development. As such, there are some great examples of MCM houses that are one-of-a-kind, as only one of that particular design was built. Connelly Homes remained on as the main builder of the houses in the community.

Here is an example of a MCM plan by Dan McSweeney.

The house as built - which it seems is the only house of its kind in the community. The builder had a great portfolio of MCM plans which they built elsewhere in Ottawa, but only a handful in Glen Cairn.

The most striking MCM design in Glen Cairn is the "X" Series by Connelly Homes, debuted in 1966. It seems to have been a popular model as many were built.

The partially covered courtyard has been enclosed by some of the homeowners. The carport was also enclosed on this house.
This one is partially hidden by the landscaping, but I like how the modern lines of the house stand out against the greenery.
I quite like this house and how the front façade is simplified with just the one window. From this angle, you can see how the side of the house actually has a recessed entry, hidden behind the brick of the front wall.
A sleek, yet subtle, modern ranch house by Connelly Homes. This same plan was available with more traditional facades.
A simple, yet modern façade with an off-centre window.
Traditional elements have been added, but the modern details still remain

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Trademarks of Design: The Minto blank wall

As explored in an earlier posting on the Minto award homes, one of the trademarks of Minto designs in the 1960s and early 1970s was having a blank, windowless, wall on the facade. Often this was in conjunction with an asymmetrically placed window. Below are some examples of houses with this trademark. As the examples show, some homeowners found this feature too modern and have made changes.

One of my favourite designs in Parkwood Hills and Beacon Hill South is a semi-detached model with a striking blank facade on the main floor:

Notice the decorative brickwork on the blank facade. The door is located on the side of this wall, next to the large window. (Parkwood Hills)
This is one of the few pairs that has a flat roof over the blank wall section. Were they all originally built with a flat roof? (Parkwood HillS)
In this case, one neighbour added a pitched roof, while the other didn't... (Parkwood HillS)
An addition was added to the side, and a window was added to the blank wall.(Parkwood HillS)

 A window was added on this blank facade. (Beacon Hill South)

This design features a blank wall beside the door. The composition accentuates the fact that the door is off to the side. The space behind the blank wall is the stair hall, which really could have had a window, but the designer decided to keep it blank. In this example, the owner on the left added porch railings to make the house look more traditional.(Beacon Hill South)

Below are examples of high-ranch models with the trademark blank facade:

Parkwood Hills

Beacon Hill North

Here is the plan, showing the windowless front wall of the Living Room. 
Other Examples:
The Bedroom window is turned away from the street, and faces the side. Below are photos of houses built from this plan. (Crystal Beach)
This homeowner added a trellis to offset the blank wall.

In this case, a tree was planted in front of the blank facade.

A great example showing the offset window and expanse of blank wall with decoratice brickwork. (Qualicum/Bruce Farm)

In this case, the homeowner made the house more traditional with the stucco and arch-topped window, but the asymmetry still hints at its once-modern facade. (Beacon Hill North)

This particular design looks as though it should have windows on the blank section of wall to the left of the front door. The photo is from the original floor plan brochure. (Skyline and Qualicum/Graham Park)

The floor plan of the house shown above. The stairwell is located where the blank exterior wall is.

The hidden front door:

Here is an example of a plan where the front door is turned to the side, thus presenting a blank wall to the street in the location where one would expect the front door. (Beacon Hill South)

Floor plan for the house in the photo above.

Having the front door hidden, by turning it away from the street, was not only used by Minto, but also by Teron on few of their homes. The front door is to the right side of the blank brick wall.(Qualicum/Graham Park)

Another example of a Teron house with the hidden front door. (Guildwood Estates)

After the 1970s, Minto stopped using the blank wall as a design feature... although it did show up in a few designs:

 Queenswood Heights South, built 1983.
Chapel Hill South, built in 1990. While the house has traditional features, having the door turned away from the street hints at the modern designs by Minto of the past.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Copeland Park - Before and After

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, builder A.B. Taylor Construction asked architects to re-design the houses they were building in Copeland Park. Below is an article from National Builder Magazine (December 1961), showing the houses before and after.

The modern architect-designed houses must have been a success, as Copeland Park has many stunning MCM houses - perhaps the best examples built en masse by a tract builder in Ottawa. Thanks to Google Street View, here are some images of these beauties!

This is one of the plans that was 'modernised' as explained in the article above. Few of these were actually built.

While most of the MCM houses by A.B.Taylor were built on the north side of Maitland, a few examples can be found on the south side, like this one. Most of the houses on the south side were built by A.B. Taylor in the 1950s and are more traditional (like the house next door in this photo).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Minto MCM Houses

Many of Minto's designs won awards during the 1960s and 1970s. Here are some great modern examples of what they built during that period.

The "Alpine"(above) and the "Cavalier" (below), won Canadian Housing Design Council awards in 1962. The Alpine is one of my favourite plans. It has a great modern design featuring a vaulted ceiling with exposed beams in the Living and Dining Rooms. These plans were predominantly built in Crystal Beach, but are also found in a few other Minto communities of the time. 

Also called the "Viking" (Crystal Beach, 1963) and the "Belmont" (Parkwood Hills). This plan c.1971 Ryan Farm and Beaconwood, as well as other Minto communities.
c.1971 Beacon Hill North.
c. 1969 Backsplit design found in Briargreen, Tanglewood, Stewart Farm, Beacon Hill.
Not a 'classic' modern design, but certainly a modern take on tradition. I especially like the blank front wall with decorative brick work. Also a Canadian Housing Design Council award winner from 1969. Built in Bruce Farm/Qualicum and Skyline North
Minto communities 1950s-1970s:

  • Bayshore
  • Beacon Hill North (Parts)
  • Beacon Hill South (Parts)
  • Beaconwood
  • Briargreen
  • Bruce Farm
  • Cityview
  • Crystal Beach
  • Fairfield Heights (Parts)
  • Fisher Heights
  • Hawthorne Meadows
  • Lakeview Park
  • Norwood (Hawthorne Meadows)
  • Parkway Park
  • Parkwood Hills
  • Ryan Farm
  • Skyline
  • Tanglewood