It's in dozens of cities across North America, and now Modern Home Tours comes to Philadelphia for the first time. It works like this: You buy a ticket, get a list of homes to visit, then drive to each place and snoop your heart out. It's like an estate sale but no one died, or an open house without the pressure to buy. And not only are the homeowners there in case you want to ask why they made certain interior design choices, the architects are on hand too, offering mini docent tours to explain how the Modern architectural aesthetic was implemented in a residential environment. (If you're lucky, maybe you'll see homeowner and architect get snippy as they revisit past battles—though it would probably work better if the contractor was around.)
There are six Philly-area Modern homes on the tour, including the Beta 2.5 House by Interface Studio Architects in Kensington, and the Belfield Homes, an in-progress green-living development in North Philly. Of course, six homes was just scratching the surface; our area is lousy with Modern. That's what makes the city "kind of a no-brainer" as a Modern Home Tours city, says Ingrid Spencer, tour curator.
Spencer says Philly's Modernist architects today are taking it to the next level—not just with form, volume and space, but in terms of sustainable building and putting Modern residential into an urban setting. She points to one of the homes on the tour, designed by Metcalfe Architecture and Design, that transformed three 19th-century carriage houses into a single Modernist home in Center City. Another Metcalfe design, this one in West Mt. Airy, seems to be a 1920s stone colonial house on the outside, but is Modern through and through on the inside. These traditional facades may not suggest a Modernist interior, but "if you're a fan of Modern, and it fits contextually, then it's a pleasant surprise," she says.
For more upended expectations:
WHAT: Philadelphia Modern Homes Tour
WHEN: Sat., July 28. Homes open 11am-5pm.
HOW MUCH: $25 in advance; $30 on the day of.
MORE INFORMATION: Here.