17 MAR 2021

Modern Living: New Zealand's Mid-Century Legacy

With a few special mid-century houses hitting the market this week we’ve been thinking about some of our favourite examples of residential architecture designed by renowned New Zealand architects during the mid-century period.

Ron Sang, Claude Megson, and John Scott, among many others, translated the modernist aesthetic of clean lines, functional spaces and extensive windows for a New Zealand market. Placing an emphasis on open plans, practical materials, and a strong connection to the outdoors, these architects put a unique kiwi spin on modernist designs that have stood the test of time.

Brake House, Ron Sang (1976)

Image Credit / Photographer Simon Devitt

In what is perhaps the most well known example of mid-century architecture in New Zealand, The Brake House by Ron Sang has long been celebrated for its well considered, modernist design. Perfectly immersed in the Titirangi bush, the house introduces influences from the Far East with its clarity of forms, floating decks and walls of glass. Originally designed for photographer Brian Brake, the house is deeply responsive to its surroundings and is now considered a modern masterpiece.

Bridge Pa House, John Scott (1970)

Image Credit / Photographer Unkown via johnscott.net.nz

Architect John Scott strove to develop a New Zealand modernist architectural vernacular. Drawing inspiration from the international modernist aesthetic as well as incorporating a Maori influence, John Scott made a unique contribution to New Zealand architecture. Built in 1970 for potters Bruce and Estelle Martin, the ‘Bridge Pa’ house in Hastings is a striking piece of architecture. Exposed beams, plywood walls and a red brick tiled floor are just some of the elements showcasing the homes quality workmanship and attention to materials. A glass corridor connecting the two sides of the linear home recalls the same characteristics of the Farnsworth House by Mies Van der Rohe, and opens up the interior space to its natural surroundings.

Rees Townhouse, Claude Megson (1974)

Image Credit / Photographer Jackie Meiring via homestolove.co.nz

Exposed concrete walls, raw timber ceilings and steel-framed windows and doors gives Claude Megson ‘Rees Townhouse’ an industrial modern feel that has stood the test of time. Built in 1974, the concrete panels and steel beams are softened with the house’s surroundings of lush planting, while the high ceilings allows for a light-filled interior that has kept this mid century gem feeling contemporary even today.

Ballantyne House, Sir Miles Warren (1958)

Image Credit / Photographer Sam Hartnett and Mary Gaudin via thespaces.com

Best known for Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre and the Christchurch Town Hall, Sir Miles Warren’s designs revolutionised the New Zealand architectural scene. His 1958 design for Ronald Ballantyne in Christchurch takes strong influences from a combination of Danish modernism, Japanese simplicity and Brutalist expression with its concrete block and timber framed construction. Oak parquet flooring paired with the expanse of windows gives a warm and considered feeling to its design that is carried throughout the home.

The Wood House, Ted Wood (1975)

Image Credit / Photographer Unknown via architecture.org.nz

The Wood House designed by architect Ted Wood for himself and his wife in 1975 is an exercise in honest materials, functional spaces, and beautiful craftsmanship. Cedar clad walls and extensive windows allow natural light to stream in on every level of the house and offers sweeping views of the native bush surroundings.

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