Coast Modern showcases modernist architecture

The rise, fall and rise again of West Coast Modernism captured in new movie
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Stahl House

1 / 10 Stahl House

Raphael Soriano Case Study House

2 / 10 Raphael Soriano Case Study House

Richard Neutra's Lovell House

3 / 10 Richard Neutra's Lovell House

Julius Shulman photographing Case Study House no 22

4 / 10 Julius Shulman photographing Case Study House no 22

John Entenza's house

5 / 10 John Entenza's house

Gordon Smith House, Vancouver

6 / 10 Gordon Smith House, Vancouver

Eames House

7 / 10 Eames House

Douglas Coupland's Vancouver home

8 / 10 Douglas Coupland's Vancouver home

Richard Neutra's Kaufmann Desert House

9 / 10 Richard Neutra's Kaufmann Desert House

B. C. Binning Residence, West Vancouver

10 / 10 B. C. Binning Residence, West Vancouver


It might focus on a particular time and place, but we hope the film Coast Modern will soon reach an audience wider than those lucky enough to catch the documentary's cinema screenings in Toronto and Vancouver this week.

Canadian filmmakers Mike Bernard and Gavin Froome, travelled the Pacific coastline from Vancouver to Los Angeles, visiting some of the finest examples of modernist architecture, while also interviewing the people who designed, photographed, lectured on or otherwise enthused about these fine homes.

What lifts the footage above being a mere real-estate eye-candy is the buildings' histories. Though the earliest constructions in the film predate WWII, many, including the West Coast's famous Case Study houses, were borne out of the post-war boom, when materials and techniques perfected during the war effort were applied to peacetime home building.

Unfortunately, later generations of homeowners didn't prize these places as highly as their creators. Many of the architects grow a little dewy-eyed when they describe how public opinion began to turn against modernist design in the 1970s and 80s, around the time some of the building materials started to fail. Yet, as novelist and modern architecture buff, Douglas Coupland explains during the film, many buildings were saved by the popularisation of mid-century design during the 1990s - thanks in part to magazines like Wallpaper, and, we would like to think, publishers like ourselves. The film ends on a high note, suggesting that this sort of forward-thinking architecture, having been plucked from the dustbin of history, is now here to stay.

As Seattle architect George Suyama says in the trailer, the spirit of these sort of homes is likely to remain with contemporary house builders because it favours, "the most important parts of dwelling in a structure: light and space." To learn more about these and similar dwellings, take a look at our great book The Modernist House and don't forget to click through our gallery of images above.




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