Trademarks of Design: The Minto Blank Wall

The architects and designers for new home builders will often come up with a few signature details that set that builder's home designs apart from the rest. During the 1960s and 1970s, one of Minto's signature designs was a windowless brick feature wall on the façade. These blank walls on the fronts of houses often had decorative brick patterns and infused an unexpected modern twist in places where one would typically envision a window. These blank walls were often balanced with an adjacent large expanse of glass — usually inset. The result is an artful play between positive and negative, heavy and light.

Lorraine

Blank façades were not uncommon in mid-century modern houses, as many designs focused inwards toward the private spaces of the yard or courtyard, and thus presented the street with blank walls. At Minto, architects chose to borrow some aspects from this design element, while still presenting an attractive façade to the street. Front windows were still included and added a connection to the neighbourhood from the inside. The windows also made the house visually more welcoming. In a handful of these designs, the front door is tucked in behind the blank wall, hiding it from the street and creating a sense of intrigue.

Kingswood

The Kingswood's semi-detached design is a great example where one whole half of the front main floor façade of each unit is a blank brick wall, complete with an understated decorative pattern created by bricks that are pulled forward. Another example from the time is the Lorraine — a detached house — where the front door was turned sideways and tucked behind a windowless brick wall facing the street, and balanced by inset walls of glass. What could have been a more traditional-style house was made modern by this unique design element.

Over the years some homeowners have added windows on these windowless walls while others have left them as they were originally built. By the late 1970s, this signature detail was all but gone on Minto's designs, although it did appear twice more on rare models built in Queenswood Heights and Chapel Hill in Orléans in the 1980s and 1990s respectively.

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