For­get open-plan, there’s a new wave of ‘bro­ken-plan’ de­sign, tak­ing hold, writes CHELSEA CLARK

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS -

For­get open-plan, ‘bro­ken plan’ is now the in thing.

Rewind 25 years. It was the early 1990s, Se­in­feld and The X Files ruled the TV rat­ings, fash­ion stores were full of grunge-in­spired flan­nel shirts and sil­ver­chair were top of the mu­sic charts.

At home, Aus­tralians sud­denly be­came ob­sessed with knock­ing out walls and de­sign­ing homes with huge spa­ces that dom­i­nated floor­plans. And so be­gan our love af­fair with open-plan de­sign.

It was a bold de­par­ture from the homes of the early part of the 20th cen­tury where rooms were di­vided by walls and the kitchen, din­ing room and lounge room were three dis­tinctly sep­a­rate – some­times very small – spa­ces.

The new de­sign style was a sen­sa­tion and, even to­day, we see it as the pre­dom­i­nant lay­out in new and ren­o­vated homes.

In re­cent years, how­ever, there has been a sub­tle but sig­nif­i­cant shift and it looks as though 2017 will be the year “bro­ken plan” fi­nally breaks through.

Bro­ken plan – a phrase coined by UK ar­chi­tect Mary Dug­gan last year – refers to a tran­si­tional move­ment be­tween the mod­ern open-plan lay­out and tra­di­tional sep­a­rated home lay­outs.

It keeps all the func­tion­al­ity that we love about open-plan liv­ing, but de­fines sep­a­rate liv­ing spa­ces, giv­ing an el­e­ment of pri­vacy and defin­ing each zone as a sep­a­rate func­tion.

“Peo­ple are be­com­ing more aware of the pos­si­bil­i­ties and so­lu­tions avail­able and have a de­sire to add a lit­tle more pri­vacy to liv­ing ar­eas, cre­at­ing snugs or of­fice zones,” says builder Daniel Mazzei from Mazzei Homes.

“It’s par­tic­u­larly preva­lent among those who have large, young fam­i­lies or grand­chil­dren and wish to be able to keep an eye on their ac­tiv­i­ties while also con­tin­u­ing with their own agen­das.”

Ar­chi­tect David McCrae from Manly’s mm+j ar­chi­tects says part of the method­ol­ogy of bro­ken-plan floor de­sign is to cre­ate a path around the home.

“It can help cut traf­fic through the mid­dle of a space, mean­ing you can often help the seg­mented area feel larger,” he says.

One of the ben­e­fits of open-plan de­sign is the po­ten­tial for a huge amount of nat­u­ral light that you can let into a space.

Par­tial or low­ered walls and open shelv­ing mean spa­ces such as stud­ies and even but­ler’s pantries no longer need to be kept in the dark.

“You can even in­cor­po­rate in­ter­nal win­dows or fea­tures such as plan­ta­tion shut­ters to add style,” Mazzei says.

“Re­cently, I have started to see in­ter­nal cur­tains be­ing used suc­cess­fully as di­viders,” Mazzei says. “They can be el­e­gant or con­tem­po­rary, de­pend­ing on the style and fab­ric se­lected.”

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