Housing questions?


Long before the architects of the Modern Movement rediscovered “housing” as a field of activity Arthur Shadwell wrote in his article on Housing for the Encyclopedia Britannica (1911) that “The housing of the poorer classes has become a pressing problem in all populous Western countries, and has engaged, in a varying but constantly increasing measure, the attention of legislative and administrative bodies and of philanthropic individuals and societies.”

The need to improve living conditions of the working classes in all rapidly growing cities like Berlin in Germany found some reformist answers in local architecture circles. Nevertheless it was a problem of European dimensions. Some problems described by Shadwell sound strangely familiar to our ears when we look at similar problems in growing cities around the globe.

The seminar and excursion is a re-examination of modernist housing ideas before “Modernism”. Architectural concepts from the pre-first world-war years later lay the foundations for the housing concepts of the heydays of modernism. We will therefore explore some of the architectural tendencies of the reform movement in the metropolitan Berlin architecture in late 19th century housing i.e. for Building Associations. We will compare not only forms and circumstances of reform-oriented housing projects but we will ask what we may learn from these concepts.