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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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IV.2 Deconstructing Liveability. Perspectives from Central Vancouver


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(University of British Columbia)

IV.2 Deconstructing Liveability. Perspectives from Central Vancouver

The concept of liveability plays a prominent role in contemporary discourse about cities and their design, management, and social life. Virtually every major planning document for large cities across North America now foregrounds “liveability principles”. From a cursory vantage, liveability, or being liveable, appears beyond both scrutiny and reproach. After all, would anyone advocate an urbanism that is anything other than liveable – a city not fit or suitable for living? But as many have cautioned, concepts that appear beyond ideology are the precise locations of ideological tenacity. Exchanging the cursory for the critical, the question is then: What ideological apparatus lurks within the ostensibly neutral and perennially rosy concept of liveability? Examining its rhetorical, political, and spatial lineage reveals it as being anything but outside ideology, but rather a highly specific spatial construct with its own political economy.

The contemporary fixation with creating liveable cities is a new phenomenon. Liveability, as it is currently understood, is a post-war invention that has flourished within globalization – inflecting urban development from Dubai to Dallas. While now a global urban discourse, the particular context and timing of liveability’s rise to prominence differs from setting to setting. In the Netherlands, for instance, “liveability emerged in rural studies in the 1950s against the background of processes of modernization and urbanization”1. In the United States, an early high-profile use of the...

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