The eternal MCM lament – we had it and we blew it. What galvanises us? The brilliantly conceived, the simple, the elegant, the flexible, affordable and the sustainable. What unites us in despair? That the final decades of the last century saw so much of this design; buildings explicitly devised and constructed for the masses, lost in the mainstream. A diabolical whirl of economics, fashion, shortsighted planning, instant gratification and the increasing worship of planned obsolescence ran roughshod over the domestic architecture created by Mid-Century visionaries, big names and small. What has ensued is a cancer of anti-design and volume built environment advancing across the nation; ugly, unhealthy, blaring static claiming the mantle of modern living. The big question – how do we get it back? For all the FB pics of Pettit & Sevitt house plans, the bellows of ranting bloggers, the essays in Architectural magazines and lectures on YouTube will not effect the seismic changes required. We at MA are convinced that the buy-in of Modernist principals and future mass housing of merit must come from the market itself and therefore initially – the big boys who service the market already, and today of all days we have spotted them sniffing the wind. Enter Australian House and Garden Magazine. Like so many of the old guard home mags, it once was a part of the Mid-Cenutry house plan schema. And now it appears some blessed creature over there has decided perhaps it needs a revisit, in the form of a home design competition, supported by a construction behemoth and heavily drawing upon the ideals of its MCM house plan heritage:
Home design competitions abounded during the early 1950s and a great number of collaborations from the mid-1950s through to the mid-70s brought architect-designed homes into sharp focus. Many wonderful ideas were developed by talented and committed architects as they explored new housing ideas – supported by developers who were prepared to put these ideas to the market.
Australian House & Garden followed the whole movement, capturing and nurturing the optimism of a generation as they embraced the ideas being put forward and bought off the plan, commissioned or even built their own homes, drawing on the many plans and schemes published and built at the time.
Times have changed but the need for well designed, affordable, sustainable, future-proofed housing has not. We think it’s time to reignite the conversation around good home design again. And with our project partner Mirvac, Australian House & Garden is launching a design competition: My Ideal House.
This is a chance to be grasped with two hands people*. We call out to everyone, but especially architects, of clear Modernist principals and contemporary vision to flood this comp with entries of beauty. The cynics out there may snort it as mere lip service and marketing, and maybe it is, but there is no better chance to pierce the armour of insipid mediocrity and waste sheltering an entire population of deluded vandals who call themselves ‘designers’ and their armies of jerry builders who continue to make our worst nightmares the norm. We all need to take this invitation and bring 2000 of our closest mates to crash the party and make the point – Good design matters. Solar passive orientation matters. Clever density, not McMansions nor sh*tboxes, are the future. It is not a choice between light, space and affordability. And the best homes are never a triangle upon a square.
*We confirm we have no affiliation with AH&G (or any Bauer Media, or ANY media whatsoever – we knuckleheads still don’t make a dime off MA.)