Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, April 12, 2010

oh so Contempo

An observation on 'history', with special reference to the history of architecture. There was a day when I thought this house style was tacky - too modern, too impermanent, too, well, not historical! No Queen Anne flamboyance, no Italianate elegance, no Georgian solemnity. No story. One great thing about Shannon's course is that it has brought 'history' up to NOW as we have looked at buildings of the 40's, 50's, 60's... right up to today's amazing work. I guess it's an inevitable error to forget that one's own time is 'history' time too.
This 'mid-century modern' or '50s Contempo' style house dates from that exciting and optimistic NEW DAY of functional middle-class homes where we could all live happy ever after in the post-war building boom. Style Plus! - a mix of finish materials like brick veneer or pebble dash and panels, asymmetrical sloping roofs and carports, exposed roof rafters, and windows - angled windows, sliding window panels, single-paned sidelight beside the front door, and that big picture window! No historical detail! Nobody's looking back. Contempo is about snug suburbs full of new schools and ball fields...moms in aprons and dads in suits or company uniforms, boys in striped jerseys and girls with skipping ropes. Herds of neighbourhood kids free and safe in the streets. Ozzie and Harriet and the boys.
There's an amazing '50s Contempo subdivision in Ottawa, a post-war cooperative community called Fairhaven Way- I want to go there some day and give these houses some attention.

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