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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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The issue of middle-class housing in the 60s and 70s is actually overlapping with that of residential mobility and the timeframe of the inhabitants, as well as those of the individual destinies, the buildings’ evolution or the heritage of the Modern Movement at that time. Modern theory applications and the critical evaluation of that theory are there intertwined. In fact, the issue of comfort becomes central when it comes to middle-class housing and it needs to adapt precepts until then presented as international to local cultures. As the discussions at the origin of this book have shown, we cannot discuss these issues without mentioning, albeit just briefly, the various public policies…

Architectural circles tend to value scholarly productions, often addressed to both the elites and the working classes, and inspired by doctrines or theories within that discipline. To observe and to analyse the housing world, the world of domestic middle-class architecture is a new approach and this is the whole point of the works gathered here, prepared by some thirty Italian researchers1 (from Turin, Milan and Rome) on the housing of this population in the 1945–1975 period, partially collected in Storie di Case (Rome, Donzelli, 2013).

Middle-class practices and the geographical and architectural choices of such class are the focus of this book. In a stereotyped manner, this class is seen as anti-urban; European comparisons, however, show very different positions across the various countries and also reveal distinct city cultures… Understanding the dynamics...

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