Top 10—The Best Modernist Homes in the UK

Amy Buxton Amy Buxton
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Here we are again, on a Saturday bringing you a fantastic Top 10 list to enjoy! Today, we thought we'd take it back a notch and focus on the simpler things in life. We've already looked at mansions and opulent designs, so let's take another sip of the first coffee of the day and relax into some modernism.

So what exactly is modernist architecture? Well, it's something that has remained a dominant architectural style, especially for corporate buildings, ever since post WWII and looks to feature pared back, simple façades, angular shapes and deceptively understated appearances. In terms of residential homes, modernism often goes hand in hand with sustainable projects and eco-living, so we see not only interesting shapes, but innovative solutions as well. Though they can be impressive and large in stature, modernist homes attempt to add to the surrounding landscape, not detract from it and we think that some of today's examples are utterly inspirational.

Come with us as we take a tour of the best UK modernist homes and let's see which is your favourite!

10. Tetris, West London

A rich mixture of honey toned wood, glass and chic white render, this modernist home, affectionately referred to as ’Tetris’, is as stylish as it is sharp and angular. The simple boxy design is so attuned to modernist architecture that we couldn't possibly not include this in our Top 10!

The design team behind this fantastic build have sought to blend the property into the surroundings, which you can see better illustrated by exploring the project in more detail. You'll see the clever use of a similar coloured and vertical fence and how even the garden looks to have been kept simple and modernist, which is quite a feat. How exactly do you make a lawn feel modern?

9. Bourne Lane Eco-House, Kent

Rear elevation of ​Bourne Lane eco-house in Kent at twilight: modern Houses by Nash Baker Architects Ltd
Nash Baker Architects Ltd

Rear elevation of ​Bourne Lane eco-house in Kent at twilight

Nash Baker Architects Ltd

This amazing project, from Nash Baker Architects, has been described as being, … Conceived as a contemporary interpretation of the Kentish barn style with characteristic black timber cladding, the bold structure nestles into the surrounding landscape with consideration for the area’s local heritage through the use of high quality, locally sourced materials.

There is no denying the boldness of the structure, nor the effortless integration it enjoys and just look at the wonderfully unusual roof angles! The house itself is breathtakingly simple and elegant and is a representation of modernism at it's best, with added eco points!

8. Modern House, Cambridgeshire

Modern House Interior Design, Cambridgeshire: modern Houses by Residence Interior Design Ltd
Residence Interior Design Ltd

Modern House Interior Design, Cambridgeshire

Residence Interior Design Ltd

If you were still unsure what a modernist house should look like, let this be your shining example! From the pale blocks to the simple frontage and the angular roof, this is one house that certainly can't be mistaken for anything other than the epitome of modernist design!

The team behind the project said that this was, A sensitive refurbishment throughout this unique, modernist home in a stunning location in Cambridgeshire. In August 2014, Grand Designs Magazine featured the story of our interior design and refurbishment of this modernist gem.

What a gem it is. In fact, this is the pared back jewel in the modernist crown!

7. Studio Cottage, Surrey

Studio Cottage  - The Homewood Estate, Portsmouth Road, Esher, Surrey: modern Houses by chaudhuriARCHITECTS
chaudhuriARCHITECTS

Studio Cottage —The Homewood Estate, Portsmouth Road, Esher, Surrey

chaudhuriARCHITECTS

Monochrome, angular and stupendously elegant, this modernist cottage is something very special indeed. Nestled in amongst the trees, despite its eye-catching design, it manages to simply belong and we think it is utterly charming. 

Having added a basement level to the property, the design team commented that, Those familiar with iconic architecture or National Trust properties in Surrey will know the house known as the ‘Homewood’, designed and completed by architect, the late Patrick Gwynne in 1939. The illustrated house, set within the same grounds and known as Studio Cottage, has adopted the ground floor footprint first chalked out by him shortly before he died in 2003. The retention of this shape was stipulated by the local authority as a condition for granting planning approval to the basement we added.

6. Windrush, Derbyshire

With gentle curves, elegant materials and simple lines all playing a major role in the construction of this modernist masterpiece, we had to show you this fabulous home. If nothing else, the scale is sure to impress you!

The design team revealed that a private client employed their services, … To produce designs for a high quality and contemporary new dwelling in the village of Quarndon, Derbyshire. The existing house was replaced to provide more rational and flexible open-plan spaces for the family to inhabit and to allow for panoramic views to the landscape at the rear. The concept of an internal curving feature wall comprising of multiple timber fins was adopted to define the interior spaces, whilst maintaining views to the garden from the front of the house.

Equally as contemporary as the outside is the internal finishing, which showcases polished concrete as a main material. What a testament to fabulous design!

5. Modernist Home, River Thames

There's no denying that this is a huge and impressive home, but thanks to the simplicity of the finish and the understated design, it remains a modernist dwelling. What a lovely contrast the lower levels are, having been finished in white and with all the glazing in place, this is something very special.

Talking about the project, the design team said, The home is on a narrow site leading to the River Thames, so the design needed to reflect this with the main rooms facing the river. Simple means, such as smaller windows on the northern façade and larger windows on the southern façade, were the obvious solution as the house was orientated almost perfectly north-south. Modern twists such as a light, glazed entrance (replacing the traditional heavy  topology) and glazed balconies gave the home a modern, yet understated twist.

With keywords such as 'modern' and 'understated' permeating this build, there can be no doubting the modernist legitimacy of this wonderful house.

4. Millwood, Essex

Angular? Check. Understated? Check. Impressive? Double check! What a breathtaking example of modernist architecture this is! We are particularly taken with the inclusion of the red bright chimney as a key feature. With a multitude of angles all working underneath smooth render, this house has been created with traditional modernism firmly in mind!

The design team responsible for this unusual home revealed that this is a, … 4,000sqft new build, comprising of five bedrooms and two bathrooms, with an open plan ground floor including kitchen, dining and living, as well as a study and garage to the front. The house was designed in a modern style, using glass and render on a steel frame. The house was purpose designed to be low energy, using materials with a high thermal performance.

There you have it! A purpose-built modernist home with eco credentials. Does it really get any better than that?

3. Hedgerows, Devon

We love this house and not only because it dared to take on a bold colour! The shapes and simplicity at play here are testament to all things modernist, while the functionality of the home is second to none, ecologically speaking. 

This fantastic sustainable house is inspirational and the design team noted that, The part two-storey dwelling replaces a small 1930s style bungalow. The architecture reflects the scale and form of the area with narrow span slate roofs, timber frame walls clad with weatherboard, with plan form broken up to reflect patterns of traditional Devon buildings in a way that contributes to a new rural vernacular based on a more environmentally responsive strategy. The design incorporates a robust, passive approach incorporating new technologies and standards being highly insulated, making maximum use of solar gains, solar PV and thermal panels, ground source heat pumps providing hot water, electricity and central heating.

It is beyond amazing that a house that looks this good, blends with its surroundings so well and makes such an impression can also have such a green soul, but that's exactly why we love it and have included it in our list of Top 10 modernist homes.

2. Sandpit Lane, Hertfordshire

Hidden behind the trees we can just about see a wonderful modernist home, complete with an astounding glass entrance. While the house itself is perfectly pared back, this auspicious addition doesn't look over the top at all, in fact, it almost highlights just how modest the property is!

With small pitched elements adding the requisite angular appeal and a crisp render brightening up and simplifying the façade in one swooping motion, we think this is a hidden gem of modernist excellence!

1. Down Barton, Devon

stunning barn conversion, we love how modernist additions have been added so sympathetically to create a delightfully contemporary, yet simple and elegant home. The combination of rustic and modern styling really highlights just how adaptable modernist architecture can be, so if you thought it was only about white render and boxy shapes, think again!

The design team, in talking about the project, said, Our brief was to not only bring back and enhance the quality of the existing building but to rationalise the internal layout whilst maximising the views by linking the house with the surrounding landscape.The final scheme provides sleeping accommodation on the lower level linked with the gardens and a large open plan living space at first floor opening on to an integrated south facing balcony. By cleverly rationalising the structure we have been able to increase the outlook towards the panoramic sea views from the first floor accommodation.

What we see is genius design, a sensitive approach to a heritage building and a wonderful grasp on modernist styling and that makes this the perfect home to close our Top 10 modernist homes list.

For more of our Top 10 fun, take a look at this Ideabook: Top 10—The Most Amazing Mansions in the UK. You might find that simple living isn't for you, but palatial properties could appeal!

Does modernism float your boat? Tell us which of these amazing houses is your favourite!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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