A Comparative Study of British and European Housing Schemes
Housing and Social Cohesion U30099: An Architectural Dissertation Bryony R. Henson 09030228 January 2012
09030228 Bryony Henson
Contents PART I
4: Paris, France
7: Power of Three
1: British Housing History of housing and social design
2: Unsocial Housing Social Stigmatisation
3: Social Housing Management
Les Banlieues UnitĂŠ dâ€™habitation
5: Vienna, Austria Reumann Hof Werkbund Estate Neue Donau Estate
6: Madrid, Spain El Mirador
Contemporary design approaches
A century of British socio-political housing schemes reveals an urban landscape into which social division
has been designed (Hanley, 2007, p.18). In 2012, these social divisions continue to worsen as economy declines and lower income households suffer from the decrease in public sector employment (Panorama, 2011). For as long as economic divisions hinder social cohesion, mixed-income communities are essential to ensuring that private and council households enjoy equal social opportunities. Instead, lower-income households depend upon social housing that not only fails to meet their household’s needs but geographically isolates them from society (Graham and Clarke, 1998, p.158). Consequently, social discontent in Britain’s urban areas is highest where the need for affordable and sustainable housing (both private and social) is most urgent. In 2011 the extent of Britain’s social discontent peaked as August riots raised further questions upon the management of the welfare system that its society is founded upon. This ‘social explosion’ (The Independent, 2012) presented Britain with a physical embodiment of the social dissatisfaction that has been designed into the walls of its social housing (Rykwert, 2011, cited in Murray, 2011). As economy and social fractures worsen, further pressure is placed upon the government to provide affordable housing that meets its users’ changing needs and crucially, improves social content. The demands are high and so the necessity to evaluate the current design and management of housing, particularly social housing, is imperative to securing and improving Britain’s social fractures (Rykwert, 2011, cited in Murray, 2011).
This study aims to identify design approaches from a century of European private and social housing that
could be used to dispel the stigmatisation of British social housing and on a larger scale, form mixed-communities through its housing design and management. Part I covers a history of British housing design and explores its affect upon modern society. Chapter 1 begins by discussing how the design of today’s society has been informed by past housing movements. The relationship between housing design and management is instrumental to establishing why social dissatisfaction has been designed into the walls of British social housing. Hence, prolific British housing movements will be visited in order to establish the social effects that arose from their methods of design and management. Chapter 2 and 3 brings us to the present day where a study will be made on the effects that a declining economy has upon the management and stigmatisation of today’s social housing.
Part II visits housing schemes in France, Austria and Spain where the design of social and urban planning is
managed very differently. Examples of prolific housing from each country will identify specific design techniques that have either positively or negatively contributed to forming a sustainable community. These design techniques will then be discussed in Part III where we turn to the future design of British social housing. Chapter 7 will provide a discussion of the contemporary design approaches of British architects that will be compared to those of European projects to inform a concluding chapter on the findings of this study. It is necessary to note that because the topic of housing and community is subject to many changeable factors, neither regional nor ethnic factors will be discussed as these subjects require studies of their own. Finally, whilst it is not the intention of this study to offer a fixed formula to mending Britainâ€™s social fractures it is the authorâ€™s intention to emphasise the increasing importance of housing design to mixed communities by collating design techniques that could aid their future design.
PART I CHAPTER 1: BRITISH HISTORY A History of British Housing Design and Social Division
“One of the greatest changes of modern society has been the
of the classes in Britain…The rise of council estates and the bourgeoisie’s flight to suburbia have introduced an unintended social zoning into the cities.” Mount (2004), p.86
One of Britain’s earliest social movements arrived
Garden Cities were intended to provide an ideal model
during the Victorian slum-clearance of London’s inner-
for the suburban home away from industrial urbanity
city workers where there the dire living conditions of
(Towers, 1995, p.25). Recognising the importance of
dense terraced housing determined the Housing of the
greenery to aid healthy and self-sufficient communities
Working Classes Act.The Act specified the re-housing of
(Colquhoun, 1999, p.3), Howard implemented private
industry workers to state-funded dwellings (Graham
gardens and green parks into his town plans. In-keeping
and Clarke, 1998, p.158) encouraging state schemes
with Howard’s principle to combine the best elements of
such as the Boundary Estate, Bethnal Green that were built to improve sanitary living conditions. For the first time in history, state-funding was available to set up housing trusts that were dedicated to improving social conditions; ‘healthfulness, comfort, social enjoyment and economy’ (French, 2008, p.18). As a result of additional plumbing services to communal dwellings, sanitary conditions improved significantly inspiring more councils to consider the health implications of their housing design. The floor plans of the Peabody building, Herne Hill (Fig.1), were dictated by the London Borough of Chelsea’s concern to reduce the risk of disease by the separation of WCs and sculleries from living spaces (French, 2008, p.18). Reduced mortality rates of Peabody Trust residents (French, 2008, p.18) proved the success of regenerative re-housing to improving the health and wellbeing of its residents.
In the private housing sector, Ebenezer Howard’s
pursuit to improve the living conditions of suburban housing informed the Garden Cities Movement (1898).
Fig. 1. Upper Ground Floor of the Peabody Building, Herne Hill, London
p.24). The design of the semi-detached house became
Raymond Unwin and Barry Parker designed the first
enormously popular and provided a fast solution to
Garden City in Letchworth (1905), Hertfordshire. As
the substandard living conditions between 1920-40s.
with the inner city municipal housing blocks, the concern to improve sanitary conditions dictated the floor plans
of Letchworth’s houses. Plumbing services and hot
of municipal housing and garden suburbs that
water supplies were the predominant contributions
social division became distinguishable upon Britain’s
to improving living conditions (French, 2008, p.22)
landscape. Typically, garden suburbs were built next
and so they informed the arrangement of rooms in accordance to water supply. Consequently, living spaces were at the front of the house whilst services, kitchens, WCs and baths remained grouped together at the back.
Howard’s new image of suburbia influenced
housing designs that provided returning World War 1 soldiers with decent homes (Homes Fit For Heroes). The Housing, Town and Planning Act was created to fund a regeneration programme and urge councils to survey the housing needs of their residents (Colquhoun, 1999,
It was during this rapid urban development
to socially inferior council estates causing major social tensions between communities (Towers, 1999, p.25). During the 1930s, the resurrection of the Cuttleslowe Walls, North Oxford demonstrated the extremity of middle and working class division that allowed the wall to exist for 25 years (Towers, 1999, p.25). Nearly 80 years later, the Cuttleslowe Walls continue to exist in the form of gated-communities (Mount, 2004, p.86). Self-sufficient housing estates already surrounded by extensive grounds choose to place additional barriers
p.6). Although regenerative designs were inspired by
around their property. Private facilities such as gyms,
Garden Cities, houses were standardised to allow for
restaurants and even post boxes relieve residents of
reasonable mass production (Towers, 1995, p.23).
the need to leave the safety of their community (Rice,
Consequently, the British semi-detached house was
2004). The incestuous nature of such communities
created. Following Howard’s principles, the semi-
makes residents less inclined to socialise outside of their
detached house accommodated a wider frontage to
complex allowing them to shun social diversity. Similarly
allow for healthier living spaces that received more light
to the Cuttleslowe Walls, the extreme privatisation of
and air and avoided negative connotations with the
gated-communities reflects the remaining unwillingness
narrow-fronted terraces of the slums (Towers, 1995,
of an elitist part of society to live cohesively with others.
country and urban living (French, 2008, p.15), architects
In Central Europe, the 1920s Modernist
the floor plan arrangements of Corbusier’s Unité
Movement was to influence the future of British housing
d’Habitation model. The invention of prefabricated
design for years to come. Designs for collective living in
times of dense urbanisation inspired architects to design
the wide-spread use of multi-storey construction.
larger and predominantly, higher. In France, Corbusier
Additionally, principles of Austro-Hungarian architect,
theorised designs for a multi-storey prototype (Unité)
Adolf Loos concerning the strict use of ornamentation
to house high concentrations of people and liberate
became synonymous of the Modern style and
the urban chaos of the ground below (Curtis, 2010,
informed Kensal House’s undecorated concrete facade.
p.441). His design of the ‘model family-unit’ within a self-
Community principles from the municipal housing
sufficient high-rise community meant the integration
of Red Vienna also informed the design of Kensal
of communal facilities into the design of the Unité
House with central on-site facilities. Public facilities
d’Habitation (French, 2008, p.82). Universally, architects
such as allotments and a playgrounds encouraged
adopted Corbusier’s Unité as a solution to urban density
outdoor socialising and leisure reflecting the Modernist
(Curtis, 2010, p.441) and applied it to cities around the
era’s promotion of healthy and communal life.
world. However, his high-rise concepts were published before the social implications of his designs had been
Whilst Kensal House continues to exist as a
realised yet his principles were already informing the
working example of urban high-rise communal living,
design of 1940’s British housing (Curtis, 2010, p.442).
the common misapplication of multi-storey apartment blocks resulted in disastrous social consequences. Used
Modernist principles emigrated to Britain where
as a fast solution to Britain’s need for high-density
the construction of high-rise apartments rose significantly
housing, multi-storey apartment blocks aided the 1930s
between the 1930s-50s. Five-storey apartments such
slum clearance (Towers, 1995, p.32). Consequently,
as Kensal House (1936) are representative of municipal
the rate of high-rise construction rose dramatically
pre-war housing estates that were specifically built
throughout Britain’s largest cities and the working class
to house working classes. Internally, the separation
were relocated from the decay of inner-city terraced
of services rooms from living spaces in order to
houses to tower blocks on the cities’ peripheries
encourage family leisure (French, 2008, p.72) reflects
(Graham and Clarke, 1998, p.158). Yet insufficient
Brutalist designs of the high-rise estates contrasted
Modernism’s architectural ancestors were achieved.
the landscaped suburbs of the New Towns Movement
Typically, tower blocks were distanced from private
(Graham and Clarke, 1998, p.128) and the two types of
suburban neighbourhoods and became isolated due to
housing came to represent two very different lifestyles.
a sufficient lack of social amenities (Hanley, 2007, p.61).
Unlike the tight-knit communities of the inner city
social high-rise is largley responsible for having
terraces, the enormity of high-rise estates were
determined the social divisions of today’s cities.
impersonal and unfriendly in comparison (Hanley, 2007, p.48). Graham and Clarke’s description (1998, p.159) of this transition as a social and geographical ‘escalator’
in isolated suburbia illustrates the irreversibility of their social exclusion.
It was the speed of construction and lack of
social facilities in British high-rise housing that failed the socialist ambitions of its European relatives. By 1965, the tower block had become Britain’s favouredmethod of social housing construction as they made up approximately half of municipal housing (Merrett, 1979, p.128). Meanwhile, private development continued to favour the ‘all too familiar’ semi-detached house (Colquhoun, 1999, p8) forming urban distinctions on Britain’s urban landscape. The notion of landscaped ‘corridors’ of housing (Graham and Clarke, 1998, p.159) depicts the visual segregation of housing types and their representative social classes. The harsh
care was taken to ensure that the social intentions of
PART I CHAPTER 2: UNSOCIAL HOUSING Perceptions of Social Structure
“How much of the stubborn rigidity of the British class system is down to the fact that class is built into the physical landscape of the country?”
Hanley (2010), p.20
After years of housing and social segregation, the
2011 August Riots dispelled any remaining notion that Britain is a classless society within which the topic of social class is outdated. As higher taxation and jobs cuts continue to drive a further wedge between existing social divisions (Ramesh, 2011), an introduction to British perceptions of social housing and social structure illustrates the importance of mixed-communities to dispel the stigmatisation of social housing.
During this time of economic recession, British
households are presented with limited spatial mobility as many lack the financial freedom to move house.
“As higher taxation and jobs cuts continue to drive a further wedge between
(Ramesh, 2011), it becomes increasingly more important to dispel the
stigmatisation of social housing through the establishment of
Presently, in the private housing sector, rising rent prices and scarce offers of home mortgages makes housing
the welfare system determines prospective tenants to
unaffordable. Consequently, increasing numbers of
minimise their credentials in order to be legally classed
both private and social households cannot afford to
as vulnerable and therefore, more qualified for housing
move house in order to meet their changing needs. If
(King, 2010, p.80). Meanwhile, the Right to Buy Act has
we are to agree with Mount that ‘mobility is the key
enabled financially better-off tenants to purchase larger
both to success and to happiness’ (2010, p.75) then
family properties and leave the public sector (King, 2010,
British society will have little choice but to endure
p.78). Hence, the stereotype of social housing tenants
limited spatial mobility at the expense of meeting the
remains as non-working class which allows for social
needs (‘happiness’) of their households.
stereotyping and further prolongs social acceptance.
Extensive media coverage of events such as the The current management of the welfare system
Broadwater Farm riots (1976) and the recent August
attracts a social stigma that causes both social and
riots (2011) contribute to this social stigmatisation
geographical divisions. It is a common misconception
(Dean and Hastings, 2000, p.4). Consequently, we look
that social provision solely houses a demographic
to Chapter 3 to determine how the true management
defined by media as non-working class (King, 2010, p.81).
of social housing contributes to the formation of mixed
This stigmatisation originates with far-right opinions that
PART I CHAPTER 3: HOUSING MANAGEMENT Housing Management
â€œ...ownership means that we are responsible and no one else, and that we can make the decisions ourselves without having to defer to others who have no personal stake in our household.â€? King (2010), p.6
obligations of private developers and their architects.
management is the resignation of council development
Unfortunately, the reluctance of some housing
to housing associations and private companies (Reeves,
associations to house mixed-income communities
2005, p.3). The transition from council to the private
for fear of producing undesirable purchases (Reeves,
development of housing associations is due to the
2005, p.37) is a possibility. It is in this instance that we
governmentâ€™s necessity to generate private income
must appeal to architects to engage with communities
(Reeves, 2005, p.32). With a lack of public funding,
in order to voice and realise their housing needs.
councils can only satisfy housing demand by sustaining a low turnover of development in order to engineer
Additionally, the change in social housing
higher demand by recourse to housing associations
management has had an affect upon the quality of
(Reeves, 2005, p.33). The role that local councils now
both existing stock and of new construction. In 2000,
play in housing development is one of enabler; initiating
the government launched the Decent Housing Standard
communications between supplier and purchaser
to improve the unliveable standards of Britainâ€™s social
(Reeves, 2005, p.40) rather than of developer. The
housing as records collected in 1997 showed that
financial shift in social housing construction is evident
2.1 million council owned properties (Homes and
in figures that show only a minor decrease in the
Communities Agency, 2011) did not classify as decent
construction of housing association completions
enough to live in. To officially qualify as decent, a social
compared to the significant decline of council construction
property must meet liveable standards of structural
(Communities and Local Government, 2010, p.xi).
repair, thermal comfort with the provision of modern
facilities (Department for Communities and Local For aslong as housing construction becomes
Government, 2006, p.11-12). Funding from private
increasingly privatised, local councils continue to
developers ensured that by 2010, 92% of Britainâ€™s
have less involvement in housing construction which
social housing had met these standards (National Audit
hinders the possibility of social cohesion. The intention
Office, 2010, p.7.). However, priority funding to improve
of transferring social housing construction from
existing stock has hindered the design of new (post-
councils to private developers is financially viable
2000) housing (King, 2010, p.79) as a CABE report
yet socially flawed. Whilst it used to be the non-
revealed that 82% of new build social housing (2005-7)
profit nature of councils to provide social housing,
rated as unsatisfactorily designed (Story, 2009). Either
community interests now depend upon the moral
social housing is not being designed to standard in the
The most noticeable change to social housing
first place or private landlords/authorities are failing
to maintain their properties to acceptable standards. Either way, British social tenants endure substandard housing until standards decline so much that another regenerative scheme is needed.
question here, is why social housing is not being designed properly must be addressed or in the case of this study, how can social housing be designed to standard?
PART II CHAPTER 4: FRANCE Case Study
France suffers from some of the worst social segregation in Europe and scenes of Britain’s August riots
are synonymous with the levels of violence that continue to plague Paris’ most deprived suburbs (les banlieues). Although racial, legal and educational factors are predominantly responsible (Sayare, 2011), Paris’ management of social housing is also largely accountable for its worsening social divide.
During the 1950s, high-rise apartments provided a short-term solution to Paris’ housing shortage (Blanc and
Bertrand, 1996, p.125). However, long-term problems arose from Corbusian ideals of the high-rise apartment as a unified community (Unité) (Curtis, 2010, p.441) as the mis-use of high-rise housing formed ghettos of high crime and social exclusion (Rieff, 2007). As crime rates increased, the reputation of housing estates declined to the degree that facilities and businesses migrated whilst transport links to the city centre were terminated (Sayere, 2011). Additionally, poor quality concrete construction brought inevitable dilapidation resulting in the total demolition of some Parisian estates (Sayere, 2011). As noted by Curtis (2010, p.441), the universal application of Corbusier’s were to encourage community living within high-density housing to provide a prototype for rapid urbanisation. However, Parisian suburbs illustrate the extent that neglected high-rise development can cause devastating effects of social isolation. As Parisian ghettos remain to exist today and continue to aid social isolation (Reiff, 2007) the following study seeks to establish how the built reality of Corbusier’s Unité d’ Habitation has failed both his own social ambitions and those of Paris’ social residents.
Unité has only heightened social isolation which is paradoxical to his conception. Corbusier’s ambitions for the Unité
U nit É d ’H abitation
Fig. 3. Facade view, Unité d'Habitation, Berlin
Architect: Le Corbusier Movement: Modernism Construction: 1953 Type: Multi-storey high-rise Facilities: Laundry, créche, kindergarten, hotel, restaurant, bar shops, sick-bay, roof terrace: playground and paddling pool, sports: running Fig. 4. Unité d'Habitation, Berlin
track, open-air gym
Fig. 5. Interior street intended to encourage chance encounters
Corbusier intended the Unité d'Habitation, Marseille, to provide a prototype for communal high-density urban living (Curtis, 2010, p.419) and he was successful, inspiring
Fig. 6. Roof Plan: Terrace accommodates activity
Fig. 7. Floor Plan: Corridors run the length of the Unité
high-rise design principles to be adopted by modernist architects for years to come. His encouragement of the family unit within communal dwelling informed the provision of communal facilities including sport, leisure, commercial and practical facilities (French, 2008, p. 82). By the extensive provision of communal facilities, the Unité represented an all-providing community in which its residents' practical and social needs were catered for. Internally, central corridors through the length
of the Unité provided internal streets (Curtis, 2010, p.449) intended to connect apartments together and encourage neighbourly encounters (fig. 5). Externally, a roof terrace encouraged shared space for families to enjoy outdoor exercise and recreation (fig. 7). A founding principle of the Unité was to offer residents an improved standard of living free from the density of the inner-city (Curtis, 2010, p.439). Corbusier's open
plan floor arrangement allowed for living spaces to receive maximum amounts of sunlight from two sides
(French, 2008, p.82) (fig. 6 and fig. 8) whilst balconies provided additional external living space (Curtis,
13th Storey A
2010, p.439). Heated and air-conditioned services that were new at the time, offered a modern lifestyle. To the present day, Corbusian principles influence the design of high-rise building in cities all over the world. In cities of vast urban growth such as London, Paris, Vienna and Madrid, techniques from Corbusier's Unité answer to increasing rates of urban density. Corbusier had intended the Unité to become a universal formula
Ground Floor Fig. 8. Section: Nor th and South facing windows allow for sufficient light and ventilation
but as noted by Curtis (2010), the misapplication of his principles has led to high-rise estates of social isolation.
Fig. 9. View from the 10th floor (Point A)
CHAPTER 5: AUSTRIA Case Studies
â€œPut people in touch who otherwise would have never met, because they make reality richer, denser, more entangled.â€? Ganjavian, Portilla-Kawamura, Yamaguchi (2007), p.37
Unlike Britain, Austrian social housing has not achieved the same social stigma. The formation of its housing
policies, allocation and supply rates are very different to those in Britain. It is Vienna’s history of poor social housing during the Settlers Movement (1918) that motivates its state to provide social housing tenants with protective policies on the maintenance of housing standards (Förster, 1996, p.115). Whilst there is a strict nationwide implementation of the Tenancy Act to Austria’s nine provinces (Förster, 1996, p.115), local authorities are mainly responsible for establishing their own housing policies in accordance to their housing needs. Additionally, Austria’s avoidance of hard measure renewal schemes has avoided public unrest (Förster, 1996, p.123). Instead, opting for soft renewal schemes more strongly protects Tenants’ Rights (Förster, 1996, p.123). It is this insurance of tenant protection and the maintenance of standards that ensures that Austrian social housing remains unrivalled in Europe (Förster, 1996, p.123).
Within each province, areas are further subdivided into political districts. The subdivision of political power enables communities to more thoroughly meet their housing needs under policies formed specific by their province (Förster, 1996, p.113). The freedom of providence legislation attracts public interest and therefore encourages community participation ensuring that housing interests remain in the control of their local environment.
The formation of mixed-income communities has spared Austria the same stigmatisation as British social
housing. In the social-renting sector income limits dictate who is eligible for social housing but crucially, they remain high enough to ensure that the vast majority of citizens are eligible (Förster, 1996, p.117). In contrast to King’s views of the British welfare system (2010), there remains no emphasis upon especially targeting social housing to the poor but to house them alongside higher income households. Consequently, the integration of social housing is as familiar as the presence of privately owned accommodation. Austria's unique system of social housing management does not mean that the majority of its citizens are reliant upon social housing because whilst the majority are eligible, only a minority require housing benefits in order to afford their rent (Förster, 1996, p.115).
Vienna's Provinces (Bundesländer)
NeueDonau, Donau,Harry Seidler Neue Harry Seidler
INNERE STADT 2
Werkbund Estate, Werkbund Adolf Loos Estate, Adolf Rietveld Loos Gerrit Gerrit Rietveld
Reumann Hof, Hof, Herbert Gessner Reumann Herbert Gessner
Fig. 10. Geographic location of housing estates in relation to city centre
R eumann H of
MargaretengĂźrtel 100-110, Vienna
Fig. 11. Street Elevation
Named after the Mayor of Vienna (1919-24),
Jakob Reumann, the Reumann Hof is a typical example
Architect: Herbert Gessner
of Red Vienna social housing. Built to rehouse the working class during the housing regeneration of the
Movement: Red Vienna
post-Settlers' Movement (1918), it was the ambition of the Viennese government to house and improve
the standard of living for the inner-city slums of Vienna (French, 2008, p.42). To provide a better standard
Type: Multi-storey social housing
of living for Vienna's working class (proletariat), an emphasis upon communal living significantly informed
Facilities: CafĂŠ, kindergarten, public courtyards
the design of the Reumann Hof. Additionally, the
government's movement to strengthen the social
flower beds (fig. 15) detract from the distinction of
financially subsidised housing. Hence, it is difficult to
scale of the palace-like super-blocks, known as
distinguish from its appearance, whether the Reumann
“Palaces of the Proletariat,” (Förster, 2002, p.16).
Hof continues to exist today as social housing.
In spite of its size, the Reumann Hof achieves
a level of intimacy that Corbusier’s Unité Berlin fails to achieve. Situated near the city centre, the central courtyard unifies the estate with the street discouraging
total privatisation of the apartment block.The exterior remains in good condition and in spite of its sheer scale, well-maintained courtyards make the grounds of the Reumann Hof approachable from the pavement. Enclosed courtyards provide residents with private spaces whilst a coffee shop attracts public custom and offers social interaction. The courtyard (hof) is synonymous of the social programme of Red Vienna (French, 2008, p.42) as part of the movement to towards the socialisation of housing (Forster, 2002, p.16). Overlooked by apartments, the courtyards were inspired by modernist architects of the era: Hoffman, Behrens, Frank (French, 2008, p.42). They offer residents private spaces to own whilst encouraging the social cohesion between residents and non-residents. Additional on-site facilities provide residents with additional shared spaces and ensure that their practical needs are met. Ornamental detail in the form of glass lanterns, monumental plaques and well-maintained
Fig. 12. Young boy pushes tricyle around the cour tyard
Fig. 13. Plan of the Estate
Fig. 14. Memorial to Social Democrat, Jakob Reumann
Fig. 15. Communal gardens
Fig. 16. Monumental archways typical of Red Vienna architecture
Entitled ‘The Dwelling’, the Werkbund Exhibitions of the 1920s were born from a shared social ambition (Joedicke,
1989, p.8) to influence the future design of European housing (Joedicke, 1989, p.7). Having enduredWorldWar I, Modernist architects saw the 1920s as an experimental time in which they could surpass elitism and design housing for the masses (Joedicke, 1989, p.8). Branches of the Werkbund Exhibition were produced around Europe including Stuttgart, Vienna and Prague. Prolific architects collaborated in the Werkbund Exhibitions to design housing schemes founded upon Modernist ideals of self-sufficiency and community. This chapter will study houses from the Vienna and Prague estates in order to measure the social outcomes of the design techniques used to accomplish their architects’ social ambitions.
Fig. 17. Weissenhofsiedlung, Stuttgar t Exhibition
13-19 Woinowichgasse, Hietzing
Architect: Adolf Loos
Movement: 1920s Modernism
Type: Terraced housing
Loos was a prolific architect of 1920-30s
Fig. 18. Street view
Whilst French denotes that Loos accounts for
Modernism and characteristics of the style were founded
the minimum wastage of space (2010), it is arguable that
upon his design principles of ornament and placement.
double-height rooms deprive residents of additional
He worked for a great revolution in floor plan design
floor space. Whilst double-height rooms make for
seeking to divide living rooms in vertical space as well as
enjoyable spaces, additional rooms with room-length
in floor plan (Kirsch, 1989, p.88). In the design of these
windows would have earned residents more floor space.
terraced houses, Loos has formed vertical connections between floors (Kirsch, 1989, p.90) by doubling ceiling heights. Double-height rooms ensure that living spaces receive the maximum amount of light and room-length windows further emphasise this intention. In contrast, rooms of short-term occupation (through-spaces) have the smallest windows and utility rooms are even situated in the basement. Consequently, Loos pre-determines room occupation by his manipulation of sunlight. Hence, the facades of the terraces reflect the users’ occupation
The terraces’ white facades are typical of
the Modernist style that was informed by Loos’ condemnation of unnecessary ornament (Curtis, 2010, p.71). He advocated ‘true modernism’ in which architectural form was determined only by use (Curtis, 2010, p.71). Similarly to his Steiner House, the terraces exterior are only interrupted by large spanning windows (Curtis, 2011, p.71) to utilise sunlight.
of their rooms.
Facilities: Balcony, basement, double-height living space
14-18 Woinowichgasse, Hietzing
Architect: Gerrit Rietveld Movement: 1920s Modernism Construction: 1930 Type: Terraced housing Flexible design feature: Sliding partition walls
Fig. 19. Street view
Rietveld is well-known for his adaptable designs
Similarly to Rietveld’s Shroder Huis, a spiral stair-
in which users could determine their own interior
case acts as a central core (Schneider and Till, 2007,
spaces (Schneider and Till, 2007, p.20). The replacement
p.57) to these terraces. In contrast to Loos’ use of floor
of permanent interior walls for sliding and folding
plan, Rietveld maximises the amount of floor space by
partitions, allows the residents of Rietveld’s Shroder
distributing rooms around the staircase. Although ceiling
Huis and Werkbund terraces to take control of their
heights remain one storey high, larger more functional
environment (Schneider and Till, 2007, p.152) by either
rooms are created making the occupational programme
subdividing up opening up the ground floor living space.
less defined. Residents therefore have more rooms in
As service areas remain grouped together, the use of the
which to inhabit and personalise to their preference.
surrounding space is left to be adapted and defined by its residents.
N eue D onau E state
Fig. 20. View from Donauinsel Station (U1 Line)
Architect: Harry Seidler Construction: 2001 Architectural Movement: 21st Century Size: 18 storey, 337 apartments (23 different types) Communal Facilities: Kindergarten, 2 community rooms (multi-purpose hall, sauna, gym, terrace), cinema, Fig. 21. Balcony view of central shared spaces
entertainment centre: restaurants, shops, gaming.
Seidler’s design encourages mixed communities through
residents and members of the public. Centrally placed
the inclusion of mixed-income apartments and the
children's playgrounds (fig.21) allow for natural surveillance
provision of communal facilities. It is the collaboration of
and provide public spaces for both children and parents
three different developers that makes it possible for both
to socialise in. In contrast to the Unité. Sneider's external
private and social rented flats to inhabit the same building
ground floor placement of public facilities discourages
(Forster, 2002, p.37) whilst communal facilities ensure that
social isolation by avoiding privatisation. Additionally,
both private and social residents are offered the same
balconies over-looking the central public areas connect
services. Landscaped communal areas provide facilities
residents to ground floor activity in spite of the high
for residents to use and in contrast to the Unité, they
placement of their apartments.
are placed externally so that they are accessible to both Aesthetically, there is little about the Donau Estate that suggests that it exists as social housing. In contrast to not been made ensuring that the Neue Donau Estate remains well-facilitated with transport,leisure centres and landscaped shared spaces.As seen in the French banlieues, insufficient landscaping allows for communal spaces to become neglected and unused but sculptural white walls bisect the otherwise flat landscape of the riverside (Förster, 2002, p.35). Additionally, the waterfront remains as a greenbelt alongside the Danube River providing both aesthetic value and additionally recreational space. Direct transport links ensure that the Neue Donau estate is accessible from the city centre (Förster, 2002, p.40) but it also exists as a positive icon of quality residence in the newly developed Donau district (Förster, 2002, p.41). Whilst the cinema and entertainment complex offers Neue Donau residents social facilities, sufficient transport ensure that the complex is accessible to members of the public (Förster, 2002, p.40). Consequently, Neue Donau residents remain well-connected to the inner-city ensuring Fig. 22. Sculptural walls bisect the landscape
that they do not fall victim to social isolation.
Britain's 1960s high-rise schemes, financial shortcuts have
CHAPTER 6: SPAIN Case Studies
The Spanish management of housing differs to that of the rest of Europe with a distinct absence of
public-rented accommodation (Alberdi and Levenfeld, 1996, p.173) and particularly high levels of homeownership (Alberdi and Levenfeld, 1996, p.170). Consequently, when housing shortages hit Spain in 2003-4, Madridâ€™s outskirts were turned into a playground for private development in order to meet the demand for denser rented accommodation. Architects from around the world were invited to transform the outskirts of Madrid and provide high-rise housing to accommodate its growing population rate (Alberdi and Levenfeld, 1996, p.184). However, economic collapse in 2008 terminated the completion of construction and landscaping (Bovin, 2009) to leave vast areas of unfinished suburbia. The following case studies will discuss the extent that projects in the districts of Carabanchel and Villa Verde are contributing towards social satisfaction.
Fig. 23 and 24. Undeveloped landscapes of the SeseĂąa district
Fig. 25. Geographic location of Madrid's housing estates in relation to city centre
E l M irador
Princesa de Eboli, Madrid
To the far north of Madrid’s periphery, MVRDV
and Lleo's Mirador may exist as a response to Madrid’s requirement for dense housing but whilst in wait of completed development, it currently fails to provide sufficient social facilities. Situated in a partially developed site, the 21 storey block is visible for miles as intended in order to provide a landmark for the future of Sancharro’s suburbia (French, 2008, p.222). Accessible by road and
rail, few facilities surround the apartment block at ground level. In keeping with Modernist convention, the highrise apartments liberate the Mirador’s ground level for transport (Curtis, 2010, p.441) and its setting is interupted only by access roads and flat landscaping. Local shops and playgrounds are central to the neighbourhood’s landscape but their distance from surrounding high-rise residences is so vast and impersonal that they do not allow for natural surveillance.
Although there is a distinct lack of communal
facilities at ground level, aspects of MRDVR’s design are intended to encourage internal communities (French, 2008, p.222.).The apar tment block is divided both internally and externally by the grouping of apartment types. Visible from the elevation (fig.26), window types reflect varying plan arrangements whilst differing exterior facades represent varying economic values.
baroness of the landscape below. In spite of housing 152
to represent nine differing communities that are united by
apartments, there was little sign of inhabitation on visit to
their shared identity and belonging (French, 2008, p.222).
the site apart from hung washing in the windows which
Comparative to the Smithsonâ€™s Streets in the Sky, MVRDV
remained as one of the few clues that the Mirador was in
intended the Sky Plaza to act as an extension to the urban
use. In contrast to five storey housing in the Carabanchel
landscape below (French, 2008, p.222.) which residents
district, the Mirador's lack of balconies and large-span
can own and occupy. However, with vast amounts of baron
windows formalises the facade and privatises activity to
landscaping, the social benefits of privatising public space
remain concealed behind shutters.
to economise on ground floor space is put to question.
The Mirador currently exists as a 21st Century
Whilst interior elements of the Miradorâ€™s design encourage
reincarnation of the failed values of Corbusier's Unite.
internal interaction, they are overwhelmed by its external
Whilst it fulfils the requirement to provide dense urban
design which encourages resident isolation.
living its sheer scale and privatisation, ensures that its atmosphere remains impersonal and socially isolating.The
Although the Sky Plaza is intended to encourage
design of public facilities is therefore crucial to forming
residents to commune in shared space, it isolates its
a relationship between the Mirador's top-floor residents
residents from ground floor activity further adding to the
with activity on the ground below but isolating design ensures that residents remain socially isolated in their 'superblock' (French, 2008, p.222).
This variation of nine apartment types is intended
PART III CHAPTER 7: CONTEMPORARY DESIGN APPRACHES TO SOCIAL HOUSING DESIGN
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