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Post-War Middle-Class Housing

Models, Construction and Change

Edited By Gaia Caramellino and Federico Zanfi

Post-war middle-class housing played a key role in constructing and transforming the cities of Europe and America, deeply impacting today’s urban landscape. And yet, this stock has been underrepresented in a literature mostly focused on public housing and the work of a few master architects.
This book is the first attempt to explore such housing from an international perspective. It provides a comparative insight into the processes of construction, occupation and transformation of residential architecture built for the middle-classes in 12 different countries between the 1950s and 1970s. It investigates the role of models, actors and policies that shaped the middle-class city, tracing geographies, chronologies and forms of development that often cross national frontiers.
This study is particularly relevant today within the context of «fragilization» which affects the middle-classes, challenging, as it does, the urban role played by this residential heritage in the light of technological obsolescence, trends in patterns of homeownership, as well as social and generational changes.
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II.1 Apartment Buildings for the Middle-Class. Cultural Transformation of Domestic Life and Urban Densification in Buenos Aires


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(Universidad Nacional de Quilmes / CONICET)

II.1 Apartment Buildings for the Middle-Class. Cultural Transformation of Domestic Life and Urban Densification in Buenos Aires

According to the 1980 Argentine national population and housing Census, approximately two-thirds (73%) of Buenos Aires households were in apartments. This percentage continues to this day, according to the 2010 Census. In the entire country, only 16% of households were in apartments in 2010. Throughout its history, the apartment has defined itself and persisted as a dwelling common in large cities, while the development of the majority of urban settlements has taken place as an extension of plans based on the individual dwelling. Throughout most of the 20th century, these latter have comprised only a small fraction of new buildings in the large cities (Buenos Aires, Rosario and some provincial capitals).

The reasons for this dominance of individual typologies over collective ones are various. 1) Geography: there are no natural limits to slow the expansion processes of large cities. 2) Housing Market: the market has been based on the division and sale of lots on instalment terms aimed at a working-class population who would build their own homes. 3) Social Representations of forms of occupation: since early on, ownership has been considered more prestigious than renting as a means of occupation.

Another clarification is needed when analysing the development of apartment buildings in Buenos Aires and other provincial capitals: this typology,...

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