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The Modern House

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Domestic architecture throughout the 20th century has responded to the twin demands of industrialisation and unprecedented urbanisation.

In this new course, we will discuss the development of the modern home, its design and contents. From the Victorian villa to the modernist desire for less is more, we will explore the changing dialogue with modernity, materials, technology and architectural style.

The modern house is an ever-changing stylistic, contextual and aesthetic indicator of contemporary culture.

Throughout this exciting new course, we discuss the many historic and functional influences with a particular focus on the effects of technological changes, utilitarian approaches and the more contemporary considerations of climate change and the architectural responses to new and old materials, the use of resources and the desires of a whole new outlook.

We will discuss both private and public developments, houses that are significant one-offs through to vast estates developed with a communal goal and aspiration.

The stylistic and ground breaking changes in architectural history will be a particular focus with significant aesthetic and material changes such as the Bauhaus, Modernism, Art Deco, Pre-fabrication and Post-Modernism being discussed and highlighted.

We will consider houses from Europe, America, Australia and Britain. Suburbanism, experimentation, and gender will also be discussed as well as the strong influence particularly within Britain and Europe of historical longings and traditional notions of ‘good taste’ and suburban conformity which resulted in the ubiquitous Tudorbethan !

Further, we discuss gender and class identity particularly significant during the creation of the interwar suburbs.

This will be discussed further through discussion of contemporary exhibitions, advertising, and the sales techniques of developers and further, through the stylistic experimentation by these developers in promoting lifestyle and suburban aspirations.

The Modern House has developed through numerous technological and societal changes, yet always remains a sanctuary from the wider world, yet is the vehicle for so much experimentation and social change.

We will consider the numerous models created for this living, both nationally and internationally, with the focus always being on the significance of the styles and architectural variation.

Discussing how they are lived in, how they are furnished and significantly, the whole interior design approach and its relationship with the outdoor world.

Learning and teaching

There will be lectures, case studies and group discussions.

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved.

Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning.

Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

Reading suggestions

  • The Modern House, Jonathan Bel, Artifice books on architecture; New edition (26 April 2016).
  • The Iconic House: Architectural Masterworks Since 1900; Dominic Bradbury, Thames and Hudson Ltd; Illustrated edition (16 Aug. 2018).
  • Atlas of Mid-Century Modern Houses, Dominic Bradbury, Phaidon Press; 1st edition (7 Oct. 2021).
  • Mid-Century Modern Design: A Complete Sourcebook, Dominic Bradbury, Thames and Hudson Ltd; Illustrated edition (15 Oct. 2020).
  • Mid-Century Britain: Modern Architecture 1938–1963, Elain Harwood, Batsford (14 Oct. 2021).
  • Bauhaus. Updated Edition, Magdalena Droste , TASCHEN; updated edition (9 April 2021).
  • Design of the 20th Century , Charlotte Fiell , TASCHEN; 0 edition (5 Sept. 2021).
  • Ideal homes: Uncovering the history and design of the interwar house, Deborah Sugg Ryan, Manchester University Press; 2nd ed. edition (1 April 2020).
  • Ideal Homes, 1918–39: Domestic Design and Suburban Modernism (Studies in Design and Material Culture), Deborah Sugg Ryan,Manchester University Press (6 Mar. 2018).

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.