Hercule Poirot and Modernism
So who says you can’t learn something from TV?
I have been continuing my marathon of “Poirot” episodes and movies. I can’t seem to resist the weird Belgian detective of Agatha Christie fame. But, in my defense, it was raining this weekend. (If you missed my last post on Poirot, you should check it out now)
One of the best things about the series, which I did not touch on in my last post, is the great locations where the episodes are shot. I don’t often look to television for architectural inspiration but Poirot’s apartment alone is a gem: a great deco, mid-rise with a bathroom you could have sworn was built in 2002 and not 1922.
The houses in the series are always owned by the wealthy English families. And we’re talking about a time in which homes are the ultimate emblems of success and heritage. Yet, we find something so refreshing about the modern architecture. It’s a statement! You don’t need to be an earl and live in Downton Abbey!
Recently in an episode, a fantastic modern house of the late twenties was featured. I was in awe of its balance of decadence and minimalism. Some “detective” work revealed that the building I was fawning over was the High and Over House –great name by the way — designed by Amyas Connell in late 1920’s.
A little more digging revealed that, in 1931, British Pathé produced a short film about the High and Over home, “The house of a Dream.”
The documentary describes the home as such: “for centuries houses have been built to meet the needs of each age. Today, we dream of houses open to sun and air, embodying everything that modern science can offer.” (via
I love the overall plan of the house: with its decidedly modernist vocabulary with baroque and classical overtones. I am always a sucker for architectural history references.
This is only one of many modernist houses featured in the Poirot series but I just love the enthusiasm modernist houses that the series advertises. I think it ultimately underlines the belief that modern architecture can make for better living.
And by the way can I earn CES learning credits for this? I think I will petition the AIA…after this next episode.
If you’re interested in reading more about Poirot locations or Amyas Connell, here are some helpful references: