Traveling along the Pacific North West coastline from LA to Vancouver, the film showcases the pioneers of West Coast Modernist Architecture, and the homes that have become their legacies.
Stepping inside the most inspired dwellings on the west coast, we feel how the light and space of a classic Modernist home can work in collaboration with the natural environment, taking us back to the basics of true living – a sense of place, light, and a deep connection to the earth.
“Vancouver has the worst architecture but that it’s okay because the natural surroundings are so beautiful.”
Growing up on the West Coast, we hated this sentiment because we knew otherwise. Every now and then we’d get a glimpse of good architecture and wonder why there wasn’t more of it? A party in a house that had an outdoor garden in the living room or a school trip to Arthur Erickson’s inspired Museum of Anthropology, we knew we had good architecture despite what people said. Mike also had a family influence, being the great nephew of Ned Pratt; a local architect and proponent of a different approach to architecture.
We came to learn about the mid-century influences on local design and that there was a community and conversation happening up the coast from LA. Vancouver’s North Shore became home to the largest inventory of modern homes and buildings in North America. We learned about artist Bert Binnings’ personal connection to Los Angeles modernist icon Richard Neutra and Ned Pratt’s ability for spotting the brightest young architects of the time and putting them to work through his legendary firm Thompson Berwick and Pratt. Vancouver had this incredibly rich history of art and architecture that had somehow been bulldozed into oblivion. We wanted answers!
We had met Richard Neutra’s son and partner Dion Neutra at his home designed by his father Richard in 1950. A small house surrounded by nature right in the middle of Silver Lake in Los Angeles. Dion would talk about family trips to Vancouver and how painter Gordon Smith’s 1966 Erickson Massey designed home in West Vancouver was an incredible house. There was a direct link from the modern masters of Los Angeles to our own little Vancouver known for it’s lousy architecture. We had to make a film.
Two weeks later we were on the road beginning a treasure hunt / labour of love that would last 6 years and afford us some amazing experiences and the company of some trulyincredible people. Conveying all of this in one film was a challenge but with the help of a very talented team, we managed to do just that.
The film is really about connection; connection through the geography of several regions, connection to nature through thoughtful design, and a connection of past and future as the simple and eloquent solutions put forward by the pioneers of West Coast Modernism are re-popularized. And of course it as also about much more than architecture – it is about how we want to live and design and how the choices we make, especially in these next few decades, will have a lasting effect on our lives.