Highover Park, Amersham

What is modernist architecture?

Angular, imposing and usually quite daring – modernist properties aren’t too difficult to spot. Nearly always using a combination of glass, steel and concrete, they marked a bolder era in British architecture.

The modernist movement emerged during the first half of the 20th century following changes in technology and engineering when architects had a desire to move away from traditional building styles to create something new.

Modernism was heavily influenced by Bauhaus, a German architectural school founded in 1919 by renowned architect Walter Gropius. Here students focused on craft and workmanship, something which Gropius believed to have been lost during the technological revolution.

The movement also took inspiration from other parts of the world. In Switzerland, architect Le Corbusier created the Dom-Ino House, where its simplistic design meant the layout of the interior could be configured in an infinite number of ways. Meanwhile in France, modernism influenced the Art Deco movement, which set a new trend across architecture and design combining modernist styles with luxurious materials.

British design also took inspiration from the European architects at the forefront of modernism. Connell & Ward, designers of The Sun Houses in Amersham, were influenced by Le Corbusier and are noted as being responsible for introducing a new and uncompromising contemporary architecture to England in the 1930s.

Modernist properties have a number of recognisable characteristics. For example, they tend to be asymmetrical and are frequently rendered in white or cream. Simplicity is at the heart of their design, rejecting any unnecessary detail, and typically comprising flat roofs, large windows and open plan living space.

Historically these homes have had quite a cult following, but they have also frequently divided opinion due to their daring design. However, their popularity is growing. In fact, an increasing number of downsizers are looking to modernist homes, wanting something quirky and unusual for their last big move.

And we have also seen a number of families choosing to move away from traditional period homes to modernist houses due to their lateral configuration and open living space – ideal for family life and not often found in other period houses.

Although modernist properties have been part of British architecture for a number of decades, it seems that their popularity might be set to grow over the coming years.



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