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Mid century architecture: the typical design features

Mid-century architecture refers to the period between 1945 and the mid-1960s, where architects created innovative and functional designs. The focus was on incorporating new materials, such as glass, steel, and concrete, and emphasizing clean lines and simplicity.

A house with typical mid century architectural elements
Typical mid century architecture

The main design elements of mid-century architecture are:

1. Simplicity: Mid-century architects focused on clean lines, geometric shapes, and minimal ornamentation. The simplicity of design was intended to emphasize the beauty of the building's structure and materials.

2. Functionality: Mid-century architects placed a strong emphasis on functionality. Buildings were designed to serve a specific purpose, and the design was intended to enhance the functionality of the space.

3. Integration with nature: Many mid-century buildings were designed to blend in with their natural surroundings. Large windows, open floor plans, and indoor-outdoor spaces were incorporated to bring nature into the building.

4. New materials: Mid-century architects incorporated new materials such as concrete, steel, and glass. These materials were used to create large, open spaces with minimal columns and walls.

5. Experimentation: Mid-century architects were not afraid to experiment with new forms and designs. The period saw the birth of new architectural styles, such as Brutalism and the International Style.

Australia has many examples of mid-century architecture, some of which are:

1. The Sydney Opera House: Designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, the Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic mid-century buildings in Australia. Completed in 1973, the building's sail-like roof and curved shapes were inspired by the surrounding harbor.

2. The High Court of Australia: Designed by Colin Madigan, the High Court of Australia in Canberra is a prime example of Brutalist architecture. The building features exposed concrete and geometric shapes, with a large central atrium that allows natural light to flood the space.

3. The Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Pool: Located in Melbourne, the Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Pool was designed by Daryl Jackson and Evan Walker. The building features a striking curved roof that mimics the shape of a wave.

4. The Australian Academy of Science: Located in Canberra, the Australian Academy of Science was designed by Roy Grounds. The building features a distinctive concrete dome and is set into the side of a hill to blend in with the surrounding landscape.

5. The Menzies Hotel: Located in Sydney, the Menzies Hotel was designed by Bates Smart & McCutcheon. The building features a distinctive vertical design, with a central elevator core surrounded by hotel rooms.

In conclusion, mid-century architecture is characterized by simplicity, functionality, integration with nature, experimentation, and the use of new materials. Australia has many examples of mid-century architecture, including the Sydney Opera House, the High Court of Australia, the Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Pool, the Australian Academy of Science, and the Menzies Hotel. These buildings are a testament to the innovative and functional designs of mid-century architects, and continue to inspire architects today.


Is this your design aesthetic? Not sure? Other design styles include:

Still not sure or need help designing your home, reach out to the Sartorial Team! Take our 5 minute questionnaire and book in a discovery call.

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