Saturday, December 26, 2015

Over 200,000 page views!

In November 2010, I decided to start a blog to share my passion for mid-century modern housing design in Ottawa and as a way to share my collection of floor plans, site plans and old advertisements. In just 5 short years, I have reached a milestone of over 200,000 page views of my blog! 

I want to take the opportunity to thank all of my readers. Over the years I have enjoyed receiving emails and comments with questions and suggestions for blog posts. 2016 will be an exciting year for the blog - I will continue my usual posts, but have some new ideas in store. So, stay tuned for more mid-century modern Ottawa!

Many thanks,
Saul Svirplys

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Bel-Air Heights and Queensway Terrace

As always, I take requests for blog postings. A while ago I was asked to post on the Bel-Air Heights neighbourhood built by Campeau in the 1950s and 1960s. Below are the pages from a brochure that Campeau produced around 1959 for both Bel-Air Heights and Queensway Terrace. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Design File: 1970s condo design - The Barclay

Readers of my blog will know that 1970s is one of my favourite periods in architecture, and I love to highlight exactly why whenever possible.
During the 1970s Ottawa went through its first condominium building boom with a series concrete towers built across the city. These buildings are typically very straightforward in design, with few design frills, and almost seem utilitarian in style. Yet, upon closer inspection, many of these buildings have strikingly modern lines that create a rhythm of solids and voids, and it is common for the balconies to take on a sculptural quality. Most of these buildings have rectangular footprints, but some were built as squares or even in Y-formation.
Inside the units are typically rectangular in shape, but are notable for their size, especially the large living spaces - one of the advantages of concrete construction is that it allows for large spans without needing a support post. During this era condominium kitchens were typically small and closed off from the main living spaces, yet still allowed room for a small table and chairs. Bathrooms with simple and having a soaking tub and shower stall in an ensuite bathroom was rare - in some cases ensuite bathrooms just had a toilet and sink. Walk-in-closets were uncommon, but walk-through closets to the master ensuite were sometimes a part of the design. Bedrooms were almost always located together, down a separate hallway from the living spaces. This layout mimicked the bungalow designs of the time, perhaps as a way to make condominium living more attractive.
In comparison, many condominium tower units built today are much smaller. A typical 2 bedroom unit in the 1970s was 1,000 square feet or larger, whereas today 2 bedroom units can be as small as 600 square feet. Kitchens are now open to the main living spaces, so much so that in smaller units the kitchen may just be a counter along a wall in the main living space. In the 1970s a condominium bedroom always had a window, but today a "bedroom" may be located deep in the unit with sliding doors to allow natural light in to the room. Additionally, bedrooms may be split up and doors often open right off of living spaces. Today, bathrooms are typically more luxurious, but valuable living space may be sacrificed to make way for multiple bathrooms even in small units. 
Below are the plans for The Barclay building at 370 Dominion Avenue in Westboro, built in 1975. The building exemplifies most of what I have just written about 1970s era condominium design, so it is a great example to share.
Of note are the long expanses of wall-to-wall windows and the exceptionally large balconies. The building was built to be luxurious for the time with large 2 and 3 bedroom units and with the inclusion of full ensuite bathrooms. An indoor pool, exercise room and sauna also indicate that this was designed as a luxurious building. 
A special thank you to a reader who suggested that I do a posting on the building!

The two bedroom units are approximately 1,040 square feet and the three bedrooms are approximately 1,250 square feet.

Units 2 and 7

Units 4 and 5

Units 3 and 6

Units 1 and 8

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Amberwood Village - Stittsville

Another blog post by request!
Located south of Hazeldean Road east of Stittsville Main Street is a very special "adult-lifestyle" neighbourhood begun in the late 1970s. The original phases of Amberwood Village consist of a series of houses built in clusters along the edges of the Amberwood Golf Course.
The development was originally built by a company called Jaric Developments Ltd. The architect of this original portion of the area was W.G.Mohaupt - who also designed the "courtyard singles" in Hunt Club (see my old post Favourite Plans South and scroll down to see these designs) - and also used to design houses for Minto.
The clusters of attached houses are grouped on dead-end lanes and units are attached is a variety of arrangements. Some designs have an attached garage, while others have detached garages clustered together with others. The result is a very interesting streetscape with a lot of open space between units.
Image courtesy of Google Maps.

Some phases of the development have detached houses intermixed with the attached units.
Below is an early version of the master plan for the whole area. The cluster houses are shown on the left side of this plan, and it looks as though they were supposed to be surrounded by detached houses. Eventually these areas were built with clusters of bungalow townhouses. "Block B" shown above was built in the lower left portion of this plan - an area also earmarked for detached houses. The right side of the plan (the south side) was built pretty-much as planned with detached houses.


The wide variety of designs could be attached in various different arrangements or be built fully detached. Below are all of the designs that I have on file.
The exteriors have a great contemporary look with wood facades and prominent roof lines. Inside, the designs have open concept living spaces with large windows, sun rooms, and a handful even have sunken rooms. Some designs have full basements while others (the older units I believe) have crawl spaces and main floor storage/utility rooms.

Below is an example of the different arrangements possible depending on the location of the garage.