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