Design of the Period House - 1940-1959

The modern house appeared in the two decades following the Second World War, the 1940s and 1950s. Rectangular in form, built from cinder-blocks with a brick facing and with a gabled roof clad in concrete roof tiles.

The 1940s and 1950s saw a building boom to replace the home damaged and destroyed in the war. Experts believe that upto two million homes were destroyed.

Public housing completions made up the bulk of new homes in the period, with private housing really only making an impact from the mid-1950s.

The New Towns Act 1946 marked a return to the garden city ideas of the early 1900s. New towns were created all over England and also in Scotland and Wales. New estates were also added to existing towns and cities.

Most of the new homes were traditional semi-detached buildings but others were in a wide variety of formats - detached houses, bungalows, cottage-style houses with an upstairs floor in the roof, blocks of flats, flats over shops, and terraced houses.

Internally, the typical layout was front door opening into an entrance hall with two living rooms and the kitchen opening off it. Stairs went from the hall to a landing with two or more bedrooms and a bathroom.

In the public housing there were some single storey homes created using prefabricated components; these 'prefabs' were intended to be temporary but some have lasted to the present day. Once more materials were available as industry recovered from the war, more conventional homes appeared. The hipped roof was often superseded by a gable roof, there were no bay windows, no additional decoration such as found in the mock-Tudor style. Prefabricated concrete was sometimes used for sections of wall but also floors. There were plain external finishes, often with render, steel or tile cladding,

Builders in the private market had to make their houses different and they often returned to the construction and features of the inter-war period; a hipped roof, exposed brick, and neo-Georgian and neo-Queen Anne styles.

In a survey conducted for The Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition and published in 1944, over 90% of women wanted a house or a bungalow. Semi-detached homes were preferred to a terrace. They wanted bigger rooms with bigger windows, a back and a front door. They wanted a kitchen for preparing food, cooking and washing up, a dining area for meals, a living area and a sitting area. 64% of women wanted the kitchen separate from the living room, but the report concluded that a combined area was best.

Women wanted a labour-saving bathroom and 83% of women wanted the bathroom upstairs. A good hot water supply and a separate WC were also important. 99% wanted a private garden. The main developments were inside – new technologies including a cooker, washing machine, fridge and TV. The kitchen was fitted with painted units and free-standing furniture.

Although there were some experiments with new materials such as aluminium, most houses continued to be build in brick, cinder blocks and concrete. Decorative elements might be added with timber, stone or rendered facings.

In 1951 a further survey led to a house design called the 'Women's Institute House'.

The Women's Institute House



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