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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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III.1 Legacies of Modernism. House Biographies of Large Post-War Residential Complexes in Switzerland


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(Zurich ETH CASE)

III.1 Legacies of Modernism. House Biographies of Large Post-War Residential Complexes in Switzerland

This contribution discusses research findings on “house biographies” of large housing complexes of the 1960s and 1970s in Switzerland1. After an outline of the history of the Swiss post-war construction boom, the focus is on two case studies, the Grünau complex in Zurich and the Telli complex in Aarau. Both were built on the outskirts of the cities to provide housing for strongly growing middle-classes. Each underwent a “career” of its own. The multi-layered material and nonmaterial stories over time are analysed with the research perspective of a “house biography”, putting the emphasis on the perspectives of the residents, the managements’ strategies for maintenance and care taking, and the changing public discourse. The conclusions reflect on future potential and constraints of this built legacy within its urban context. ← 243 | 244 →

On the Trajectory of the Construction Boom in Switzerland (1950–1980)

In the 1950s, a severe lack of housing was – as in many other European countries – an issue in Switzerland, despite the fact that this country was not affected by the destruction of Second World War. The cities and industrial facilities were still intact and the property and power relationships in society had not been changed. A booming economy was accompanied by a strong belief in progress and technological innovation. From the 1950s through...

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