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Architectural Style

Post-war home



Post-war houses have a reputation of being boxy and ordinary. They were build in the late 1940s to the 1970s and designed more so for function than beauty.


This architectural style sprang up in american houses. They were built as the american soldiers returned from World War II. The builders were struggling to keep up with the demand, which is why the houses went into mass production and many creative yet unnecessary features were left behind. The craftsmanship was maintained resulting in the houses being sturdy and durable.[1]

In Canada the Wartime Housing Limited, now known as CMHC, built over 30,000 houses. The homes were of course a standard way of living due to the affordability. It is estimated that there are still a million of these houses still being used today in Canada.[2]

Use In Building Construction


Today, subdivisions have that cookie-cutter feeling. This is not the case for Post-was houses even though they were built in a hurry. Most of the houses are a moderate size with a half-acre backyard.

Some recognizable characteristics in post-war houses include:

  • pictured windows viewing the front yard
  • kitchen facing the back yard
  • pitched roof
  • garage

Building Materials

Prefabricated home under construction

After the war, there was a shortage on standard materials forcing architects to think outside of the box.

Steel was used for many of the prefabricated components. Steel columns and beams supported tin metal sheets. These neighborhoods were referred to a "tin towns."

Timber frames were the most common. They were clad with brick or siding. During this time, there wasn't a lot of consideration when it came to building envelope, so these building experience high heat loss due to the lacking insulation. That being said, they are less prone to water damage due to the constant air flow through the studs allowing any water seepage to dry out. But with that, comes higher heating and cooling costs.

The windows were either double glazed or single glazed with the exception of the west coast. Doors were either hollow or solid wood panel.

Although these houses are very durable and sturdy, some of the building materials just weren't up to the standards we have today. For example the concrete foundations reinforced with steel was poorly cast, resulting in the concrete to erode away and exposing the steel to water causing it to rust and weaken. Bricks were fastened to the wall structure with clips that weren't galvanized, therefore the clips would rust causing a potential risk for the brick veneer to topple over in an earthquake.[3]

CMHC conduced a case study suggesting ways to improve and renovate any of these Post-war homes to make them energy efficient and save the occupants money on energy costs. Draft proofing prevents a lot of air leakage and it can be done by weatherstripping all door and window frames, chimney flues, and attic hatches. Covering the dirt floor in the basement will help reduce moisture and gas entering the house. [4]

Examples of Postwar Condominiums

Tradewinds 108 West Esplanade, Vancouver, BC

Tradewinds was originally constructed in 1903 and underwent a reconstruction in 1998. The building was constructed due to a boom in the logging industry.

The building has 51 residential units built around a courtyard. The majority of the rooms and two bedrooms, there are also studios, one bedroom and two bedroom plus den units.

Amenities include a secure entrance, a gym, bake room, underground parking, inner courtyard and in suite laundry.

Siena 188 East 76th Street, New York City

Siena is located in the Upper East Side of New York City, the scene location for many movies including The Great Gatsby, The Devil Wears Parada and Kramer vs. Kramer.

Medical offices occupy the ground and second floors of the building. The apartments, starting on the third floor, have a separate entrance and lobby than the one used by the offices. The units range from one bedroom to large multilevel duplex units. Features include eat in kitchens, maids rooms, hardwood floors, ten foot ceilings, oversized windows, marble finishing and in suite laundry.

Amenities include a doorman, concierge, live in superintendent, sauna, fitness center, childrens playroom, storage facilities, and a shared outdoor terrace.

Saint James Tower 415 East 54th Street, New York City

Saint James Tower is located in a New York City neighborhood that has been the home to Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe and Joan Crawford.

The units consist of one, two and three bedrooms with a variety of layouts for each. Features include programmable lights, hardwood floors, floor to ceiling windows, marble and granite, stainless steel appliances, nine foot high ceilings, and views of Manhattan.

Amenities include maid service, a 24 hour doorman, a fitness center, a bike room, a storage room, gardens, a laundry room and a rooftop terrace.

Dag Hammarskjold Tower 240 East 47th Street, New York City

Dag Hammarskjold Tower is named after Dag Hammarskjold, who was killed in a plane crash prior to receiving the Noble Peace Prize, making him the only person in history to receive the award after death. The plan crash has ignited many conspiracy theories and many believe it was not an accident.

The apartments are quite unique and feature a variety of layouts. There is storage available in the basement, a rooftop pool and provides central air conditioning. Most of the suites have balconies that look out onto the city.

Amenities include a concierge, a health club, a fitness center, a bicycle room, a childrens play room, a roof deck, a lounge and gardens.

Charlton House 2 Charlton Street, New York City

Charlton House sits on a street that was once names New York City's best streets by Time Out Magazine.

The building is 17 stories tall and contains 176 units. The size ranges from one to three bedrooms. The apartments have been updated since its original construction and no feature wood flooring, granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and wooden cabinetry.

Amenities include a full time doorman, a live in superintendent, shared gardens, a laundry room, a bicycle room, and a shared parking garage.


  1. Front Door
  2. Now House Project
  3. Let Link
  4. Toronto - CMHC

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