Monday, July 16, 2012

Beaverbrook, Kanata, Townhouses

One of my favourite areas for mid-century modern eye candy is the Beaverbrook neighbourhood of Kanata. The architecture of this area is a perfect example of a Canadian take on the mid-century modern style.

The very first houses built in Beaverbrook were in 1965, and they were townhouses. Since there are so many fabulous designs in the area, which warrant multiple blog postings, this particular post will be on the townhouses of Beaverbrook.

This particular complex won a 1967 Canadian Housing Design Council Award. 

The original design was praised for its use of wood, cedar shingle and aged bricks to give the warmth of natural materials. Sadly, recent renovations of these townhouses replaced the wood and cedar shingles with siding and asphalt shingle roofs. While they may now be easier to maintain, the houses no longer blend in with the natural environment as they once did. Below is what the houses look like now.

These houses have a refreshingly modern façades with blank expanses of wall, and windows tucked in on the side of bump-outs on the second floor. Perhaps these designs were too modern for the buying public - as only a handful of the two-story plans were built with the blank 2nd floor façade - most have a front window on the bump-out. The 3-storey units were all built as shown in this image.
As built - with the windows on the 2-storey units. Notice the naturally-inspired colour scheme. The floor plans are below.

Another winner of a Canadian Housing Design Council Award. One of the key features of all houses in Beaverbrook is the use of natural materials and a community layout that ties in with the natural surrounding. 

The Salter Square development has some unique back-to-back townhouse designs, called 'patio homes'. For some reason builders do not like to use the term 'back-to-back townhouse'. Even today, Mattamy Homes calls them 'village homes'. Either way, they are an excellent way to increase density and offer houses at a more affordable price.

The importance of using natural materials in Beaverbrook is apparent in the Salter Square complex. While Campeau built its Court Homes in various neighbourhoods across the city, this is the only one where they used cedar shingles on the side walls of the houses. That said, it does not appear that all of the houses had cedar shingle side walls - others have wood siding. I wonder if these were left natural when they were first built? 

The importance of colour, texture and the use of various materials in Beaverbrook continues with the 'terrace homes' on Penfield Drive. While they all have the same floor plan, there is variety in the houses because of the different materials used - as in the image below. Some units have a detached garage in front of the house, again adding a sense of variety.

The final designs here are for the Bethune Condominium townhouse clusters in Beaverbrook.

Again, colour, texture, and various materials - all in earth tones - are characteristics of this complex.

One of the most unique aspects of the design of the 4 bedroom unit (plan above) is the master bedroom walk-in-closet that protrudes out over the garage. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Summer Reading!

This is a re-post from last year...but I wanted to share it again.

It is Summer, so hopefully you have some time off where you can sit back and relax poolside or on the beach with a good book!

If you are into MCM design and love to read (like me!), then here is list of suggested reading. I have read all of these books and thoroughly enjoyed them all. And if your time by the pool or on the beach is rained out, most of these books have been made into movies.

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, by Sloan Wilson, 1955.
The book offers insight into the postwar American Dream and the burgeoning material culture of the 1950s. 

It was also made into a movie in 1956 starring Gregory Peck. The movie is just as good as the book.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, 1961.
Perhaps not the most positive view of the suburbs on the 1960s - but certainly captures the time period.

In 2008, it was made into a movie. While the movie does differ from the book, it is successful in capturing the essence of the time and the intention of the author.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, 1943.
She is one of my favorite authors. The book is a great read for architecture lovers, but is a bit heavy on the theories of objectivism.

In 1949 it was made into a movie. The acting is very melodramatic - but very much of its time. It was a challenge to get a hold of this movie, but I found it...and love it!

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, 1957.
Another great book by Ayn Rand. Her writing is the inspiration of my own 2 novels, both in the final editing stage, and hopefully published soon!

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, 1948 film.
I have only seen the movie, but there is a book that I will have to get my hands on. It is a comedy, that is still funny even today.

David Kushner, Levittown, Two Families, One Tycoon, and the Fight for Civil Rights in America's Legendary Suburb.
A newer book that chronicles the real-life struggles of the first black family to move into Levittown, Pennsylvania in the 1950s. Although the book is based on historical facts, it is very readable.

Although he is not a mid-century author, I recommend anything by Douglas Coupland, on par with Ayn Rand as my favourite author. And he is Canadian!