Monday, June 18, 2012


Dormers? Mid-century...perhaps...modern...not so much.

While the mid-century saw many modern-style houses constructed, many Ottawa builders had at least one design in their portfolio with traditional dormers windows.

I have to say that I have always been fond of dormer windows. My first apartment was on the top floor of a 3 storey walk-up and had dormers in all of the rooms. Also, my first house also had a dormer window in the master bedroom. There is something very cosy about a room with slanted ceilings.

Aesthetically, a house with dormers has a lower profile in comparison to a two-storey facade, so it looks better next to a 1-storey bungalow - which many mid-century neighbourhoods are filled with.

Below are a few selected plans for houses built in the mid-century in Ottawa that have dormer windows:

This large design manages to have 5 bedrooms under the slanted second floor roof line, including the large master bedroom. c. 1969, Skyline.

This design by Simpson, built in Playfair Park, has a striking resemblance to the Minto plan above. Many of the Simpson plans built in Playfair park are 'inspired' by those built by other builders.

c. 1969. Briargreen, Graham Park.

Campeau, c. 1950s.

Campeau, c. 1966. Playfair Park, Riverside Park, Leslie Park, South Keys, Beacon Hill.

Campeau, c. 1968.

Campeau, c. 1968.

While this design was a part of the Assaly 'Trend Homes' collection, it has a very traditional facade. It was built in Trend Village.

These Wimpey designs in Convent Glen (Orleans), all have inset dormers.

This Armstrong-built design can be found in Glen Cairn (Kanata). Even though it was the model home, there were very few actually built. There is also one in Skyview and a couple in Lancaster Farm (southwest of Merivale & Meadowlands).

This design by Teron and built in Beaverbrook (Kanata), is a modern take on dormer windows - well, there actually no dormers, but instead inset windows were dormers would traditionally be.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Modernism for the Masses - Elmvale Acres & Urbandale

If you drive through the streets of the Elmvale Acres and Urbandale Acres neighbourhoods, you will notice a series of strikingly modern houses. These were mass-produced by a handfull of tract builders - some of which built the same plans in various Canadian cities, and even in other Ottawa neighbourhoods. Many of the designs are quite small - especially compare to the standards of new houses.

Below are a couple of journal articles on the houses as well as some selected plans.

I wonder what happened to the miniature house models? I want them!

The option with the 2-sided fireplace is fantastic!

This is one of my favourite plans in the area with its strikingly modern facade. At 1061 square feet it is not large, but the vaulted ceilings make the space feel much larger than it really is. Below is a photo of the design showing the roof beams protruding from the front of the house - a great detail.

Knight Homes - Cavalier. Below is the beautifully modern facade of this design. A few people have inserted a window on the blank front dining room wall - but I like it blank, the way it was originally intended.

This a a great back split design where you descend a half flight of stairs into the dining room. Below is an ad with another Knight Homes design.

While I do not have the plans for the Economy Home Builder's houses in the area, here are a few from 1961 newspaper ads.

This design is unusual as the main living spaces are on the lower level - half underground. Essentially the basement of a high-ranch design is outfitted with the main living spaces. I am not sure why they did that, but my theory is that is was more economical, thus making the house more affordable.

You may know Mastercraft as the builder of the new SOHO condos in Ottawa, but they used to build houses in the mid-century.

I have the entire brochure for the Edstan homes development in the area. It is reproduced below. 
Edstan also built similar plans in Bell's Corners and Riverside Park.

One of the features I like about this design is the side hall and door to the carport and yard. I recently saw an updated version of this design where the homeowners took down all of the walls on the main living level to create an open concept living/dining/kitchen. It looked amazing! Their style still suited the mid-century spirit of the house - so I approve.

The side door entry halfway down the basement stairs make this design conducive to renting out the basement.

One of the few two-storey designs in the neighbourhood.

Campeau also built extensively in Elmvale Acres, many plans of which have been featured in past posts.


In follow up to a question from a reader, below is what I suspect is the plan for their house, built by Campeau in Riverside Park. It is similar to those constructed by other builders in Elmvale Acres and Urbandale. This is the only version of the plan I have.