The mid-century modern movement changed design forever. To this day, the world remains enamoured with modernist design, which took over architecture, interiors and furniture, among other design spheres.

North America led the world in the mid-century modern movement, channeling elements from the International and Bauhaus movements into a distinct form of modernism that reflected the lifestyle  of contemporary America.

Indeed, the phrase ‘mid-century modern’ immediately brings to mind the low-lying white-washed desert houses of Palm Springs, as well as classics such as ‘Fallingwater’ by Frank Lloyd Wright or Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Cody Glass House
Cody Glass House, designed by architect William Cody in 1967. Image credit: freeinteriorimages.com

Modernist design was taken up with verve in Australia, and considering some of the typical features like solar passive design, indoor-outdoor spaces and raised structures, it’s not hard to see why. A lot of these features are optimal not only for Australia’s climate, but also our easygoing, outdoorsy way of life.

Here are some stunning homes that show just how well Australian architects were able to adapt modernism for the Australian environment.

Rose Seidler House in Wahroonga, NSW (Architect: Harry Seidler, 1950)

Rose Seidler House exterior

Rose Seidler House artwork
Image credit: Sydney Living Museums

This suburban bush home was designed by [then] fledgling architect Harry Seidler for his parents Rose and Max Seidler. It sits nicely on the site, appearing as if it’s floating above the ground, cut into the stone wall constructed below.

McCraith ‘Butterfly’ House in Dromana, Victoria (Architects: David Chancellor and William Patrick, 1955)

McCraith Butterfly House side
Image credit: Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery

McCraith Butterfly House front
Image credit: RMIT

Nicknamed ‘Butterfly House’, this home features a distinct butterfly roof design and a large verandah that is synonymous with the Australian lifestyle. Its raised form, like a butterfly ready to take off, produces a fantastic view of its coastal surrounds.

Australian Academy of Science in Canberra, ACT (Architect: Roy Grounds, 1959)

Australian Academy of Science exterior
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Australian Academy of Science pool
Image credit: Pinterest

Also known as ‘Shine Dome’, the Australian Academy of Science building is highly unique, and a great representation of Canberra’s modernist architecture. The building was quite an experiment at the time, rather fitting for a science academy. Its open, circular form makes great use of the space and sits well in the landscape.

Harry & Penelope Seidler House in Killara, NSW (Architect: Harry Seidler, 1967)

Harry and Penelope Seidler House exterior

Harry and Penelope Seidler House interior

Harry and Penelope Seidler House rocks
Image credit: Sydney Living Museums

From the outside, it looks like an intricate outcropping of rock. It appears grey, dark and extremely private. And while it is private and discrete from street level, it boasts stunning bushland views from the inside as well as a very natural feel that celebrates the Australian environment.