Mid Century Modern design can look quite different across the country— the Southwest might be filled with Desert Modern paradises, but the Northwest takes an entirely different approach. Cascadia’s version of Mid Mod style is called Northwest Regional design, and it brings a more down-t0-earth, sustainable flair to the retro look.
Northwest Regional design is a style heavily influenced by Mid Century Modern design, International style and Japanese architecture that was common in the Pacific Northwest from the late 1930s to the 1960s. It was made popular thanks to architects like Paul Hayden Kirk, John Yeon, William Fletcher and Robert Rummer.
Northwest Regional design pulls heavily from similar architectural movements of the time, like Mid Century Modern and International. This is seen in the sleek lines of Northwest Regional homes (a Mid Mod influence) and the floor-to-ceiling glass (a nod to International style).
The style also found inspiration on the other side of the ocean too. Across the Pacific, Japanese architecture influenced the designs of architects in the Pacific Northwest, as the area already had ties to the island nation, and the two shared similar climates. Design elements like an emphasis on the natural setting or exposed wood reflected this.
Northwest Regional style takes a Mid Century Modern approach to design: simple is better. Boaz Ashkenazy, lecturer for the University of Washington Department of Architecture called the style “a more subtle Modernism.” Its homes valued function and easy-construction. In fact, some of the first pre-fab homes were Northwest Regional ones, as homes were built in pieces off-site because of the difficulty of the on-site terrain.
These homes are sleek and linear, and have roofs that only slope enough to let off the rain. And speaking of the rain, Northwest Regional homes often have extended overhangs to shield the residents from the rain. There are also large windows all around the homes to show off the surrounding nature and make the most of precious sunlight.
Nature wasn’t taken lightly in the PNW— in terms of sustainability, Northwest Regional architecture was years ahead of similar styles. Homes were built to showcase the surrounding natural landscape, and they were often built with locally sourced materials, like nearby timber and stone. Northwest Regional homes typically had unpainted wood-paneled exteriors to show off the beauty of the cedar, fir or pine.
These homes are certainly different than their Californian cousins, but we love them just as much. Check out another PNW architect, Wendell Lovett, and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!