The house that I share with my family is absolutely my favourite modernist building. As soon as I saw the house that would become our home, I knew it would serve us well. Its simple form, and interior plan that considered sunlight was so refreshing after looking at many houses to buy.
Designed by Frederick Ost in 1949, 67 years ago it is an example of a modest, well designed home. Frederick Ost lived in Wellington from 1940 after fleeing Czechoslovakia. He worked as an architect at the WCC until the mid 1950s, and then had his own practice until the mid 1970s. His most recognisable apartment buildings are the Adelphi apartments on The Terrace, and Lincoln Court on Washington Ave in Brooklyn. Ost was also a painter and graphic artist. In the National Archives I found a book of poetry titled Swallows, by Ost. The cover features a delightful simple line drawing of a Swallow. As a tribute to Ost, we have the swallow screen printed onto the glass in a new sliding door.
The original floor area of our home is 80 square metres. My hunch is that this modest size was due in part to building material restrictions at the time, which meant that rooms sizes were restricted. However, Frederick Ost still crafted a plan that today feels contemporary, and has suited us from years with a young child to years with a teenager. We have carried out a small addition and alteration which combined the previous separate kitchen and dining room, and increased the floor area to 86 square meters.
Ost’s design teaches us about the importance of efficient design. For the sake of affordability and environmental issues we need address the ever increasing size of our homes. This house shows how careful planning has created a very liveable home within a footprint less than 100 square meters.
We feel extremely fortunate to inherited this fine house. It is an example of how modernist architecture dealt with issues that are still releveant for the decisions we make today regarding our built environment.
The “My favourite modernist building …” series is in support of Gordon Wilson Flats which is facing threat of demolition.