The 70s House By David Heathcote and Sue Barr.Wiley, 2005. £34.99
Wedged between Modernist certainties and Post-Modernist pluralism, the '70s was a rich transitional period. Private houses, with the freedoms and quirks that the type affords, show this schizophrenic and experimental nature well.
The 70s House is structured round six themes, each with a short essay and case studies.
Although the classification and choices say more about the authors' tastes and budget than the eclecticism of the period itself, it is a well-chosen mix.
The houses are wonderful and often little known. Barr has photographed them beautifully, with the mismatched furniture and detritus of the owners (in many cases the original clients) on show, rather than their being forcefully overstyled. Some of the interiors give their age away, but the exteriors are largely timeless. The shingled continuous roof/wall of Norman Jaffe's Perlbinder House (1972) and the diagonal and vertical boarding of the Neskis' Kaplan House (1970), with their focus on form and surface respectively, could be in the journals today.
But it's unfortunate that there are no plans, particularly as Heathcote points out that the period saw an increasing importance in functional/ private spaces (kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms - all of which are easily commodified), in contrast to the free plan, a point not easily illustrated by images. The book is otherwise much better than the standard coffee-table offering, so its readers are being undersold.