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.

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