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DASH #10 – Housing the Student

Housing for young people, specifically aimed at students, is an extremely hot topic at the moment. Due to the growing influx of (international) students to Dutch universities, student housing has again become a large-scale job, and the supply of quality housing is important in the battle for students. In a stagnant housing market, developers and investors alike are flocking to this job en masse.

Constant themes in the design of student housing are temporality, modularity and transformation. A new development is the conversion of vacant buildings, originally intended for other programmes, into housing for students. DASH 10 describes the history and typological variety of student housing, and maps out the needs of a new generation of city dwellers in order to take a look ahead – along with architects, developers, and policymakers – to see what is needed today and what will be needed in the future.

Dick van Gameren contrasts the English college model with the model of the North American campus from the perspective of the city, while Paul Kuitenbrouwer explores the typology of the student room in terms of its historical development and its many variations. Harald Mooij reconstructs the Dutch job of building student housing after the Second World War, and illustrates the then-lively debate with several early projects. In a fascinating history of Madrid’s Residencia de Estudiantes and its simultaneous occupancy by Federico García Lorca, Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel, Sergio Martín Blas shows that student housing can do more than merely provide shelter. Interviews with Niek Verdonk and Marlies Rohmer about topics including youth housing in Groningen, and with André Snippe, who is developing existing office buildings into Campus Diemen Zuid, link theory to current practice.

The plan documentation for projects including Eero Saarinen’s Morse and Stiles Colleges at New Haven; Cripps Building as an extension of St John’s College in Cambridge, by Powell & Moya; Maison d’Iran in Paris by Claude Parent & Heydar Ghiaï; the patio homes at Enschede’s Campus Drienerlo by Herman Haan; the small but special Svartlamoen project in Trondheim, by Geir Brendeland and Olav Kristoffersen; and the construction of a new building for Leiden University College in The Hague by Wiel Arets show the development of the student dwelling in all of its aspects, and on all scales.

 

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DASH #09 – Housing exhibitions

Housing exhibitions in which the houses themselves are displayed as built objects (either temporary or permanent ones) had a major influence on the development of the twentieth century’s residential architecture. These exhibitions were underpinned by often-changing objectives, such as the uniting of architecture, art and industry, or the demonstration of new construction techniques. Issues such as the shortage of housing formed an important part of the programming in the 1930s, and also during the post-war reconstruction period. Cloaked ambitions such as the promotion of architectural ideals and the expression of political views can often be properly traced after the fact. These days, building exhibitions are rarely limited to housing alone; themes such as sustainability and climate change are also high on the agenda. Since the 1980s, and mainly in Germany, attention has been drawn to entire cities and regions via an Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA), without any fixed planning concept, but rather as the initiator of an open-ended transformation.

DASH 9 focuses on the objectives, results, and consequences of housing exhibitions. Essays by Frederique van Andel, Lucy Creagh, Sandra Wagner-Conzelmann, and Noud de Vreeze make connections between various exhibitions and major milestones in the history of residential architecture.

The planning documentation includes a series of wellknown and less well-known exhibitions, such as ‘Ein Dokument Deutscher Kunst’ in Darmstadt, ‘Die Wohnung unserer Zeit’ in Berlin, the Werkbund Exhibition in Vienna, ‘Il Quartiere Triennale 8’ in Milan, and the ‘Documenta Urbana’ in Kassel. More recent exhibitions that are explored include the ‘City of Tomorrow’ in Malmö and the IBA in Hamburg, which ended in 2013.

An interview with Barry Bergdoll examines the tradition of homes being exhibited on a 1:1 scale in the Museum of Modern Art’s sculpture garden in New York. DASH also discusses with Vanessa Miriam Carlow, a member of the ‘Prae-IBA-Team’, whether the ideas for the cancelled IBA 2020 in Berlin might still be of value for that city.

CONTENT
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Editorial DASH #09

The many housing exhibitions of the past 100 years attest to the ongoing search for the ideal home. Housing exhibitions are an excellent example of research by design. They are manifestos that try to give answers to current social issues and introduce new ideals, but at the same time they also present concrete housing designs. The temporary or permanent presence of the object itself – the dwelling or the residential building – makes the housing exhibition an exceptional instrument. Actually building these experimental designs at full size not only makes them visible, but also enables them to be visited, by both peers and laymen. And finally, they are subjected to the ultimate test: actual habitation…

The many housing exhibitions of the past 100 years attest to the ongoing search for the ideal home. Housing exhibitions are an excellent example of research by design. They are manifestos that try to give answers to current social issues and introduce new ideals, but at the same time they also present concrete housing designs. The temporary or permanent presence of the object itself – the dwelling or the residential building – makes the housing exhibition an exceptional instrument. Actually building these experimental designs at full size not only makes them visible, but also enables them to be visited, by both peers and laymen. And finally, they are subjected to the ultimate test: actual habitation.

This issue of DASH provides an overview of housing exhibitions from the past, present, and future. Their corresponding reflections and manifestos are also considered in further detail. Many themes still appear to be very current, and a number of ideals appear again and again in different forms.

The Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA) in Hamburg, which is still open, is organized around a number of themes. Some of these themes are familiar from previous exhibitions, such as the adaptable home, affordable housing and the urban-planning anchoring of housing and residential buildings. But there are also themes that have emerged in recent years, such as the sustainable home (minimal use of energy and materials) and homes on the water (climate change). IBA Hamburg is the final part of the project documentation in this issue of DASH, which shows a wide panorama of approaches in ten different projects. Of these ten projects, nine can still be seen, and are still inhabited.

A number of essays examine the motivations and positions of some of the most influential housing exhibitions. Two exhibitions from the early 1930s, the time of the Great Depression, provided a platform for architects to show solutions for homes that could later ‘grow’, after having initially been built using minimal resources. This is an idea that remains remarkably current, considering the ongoing financial crisis. And in 1930, the Stockholm exhibition introduced a new approach to housing that has exerted a great influence for decades, both in Sweden and far beyond. The famous Hansaviertel in Berlin (Interbau, 1957) is still known as an exemplary showcase of various housing types, but it also turns out to have propagated an explicitly political programme. In the early 1990s, the BouwRAI neighbourhoods in Almere tried once again to turn residential building into an architectural statement.

In the two interviews, this thread is extended to the present, and into the future. MoMA’s continuing tradition in New York of exhibiting full-size homes is investigated, and the plans for the (now cancelled) IBA 2020 in Berlin give insight into the housing issues that are relevant today.

The housing exhibition seems to be a phenomenon that has not lost anything in terms of topicality. There is no other physical or virtual alternative that truly allows visitors and residents to experience a sense of spaciousness and functionality. The exhibitions that were researched and documented in this issue of DASH together form a testament to the ongoing importance of this type of research, especially at a time when new forms of development, construction and housing are once again receiving a great deal of attention.

With this current issue, DASH is making an appeal for new exhibitions that will give this quest both direction and form.

 

Essays
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Housing in times of crisis

Is de 'growing House' the Answer?

Housing exhibitions present experimental answers to urgent social and economic issues that are related to housing, especially in times of crisis. This makes exhibitions an important link between theory and practice. The ‘growing home’ is an experimental idea that was developed in the 1930s, but it might also be suitable for the current crisis.

When we look back at the history of housing exhibitions, we see a history of residential architecture, but also of the various other issues related to housing. The exhibitions can be seen as a mirror of the social developments of the age, where architects tried to answer questions that were on the cutting edge of the present and the future.

Major developments in housing often occur after a period of social misery – the best ideas are often born out of necessity. The role that building exhibitions have played in promoting such ideas cannot be underestimated. These exhibitions allowed new ideas and solutions to arise freely because the absence of direct clients or residents meant that the borders of the possible could be reconnoitred in terms of building technology, but also in cultural and social terms.

In 1932, an age when the world was once again enduring economic hardship, two remarkable building exhibitions were held in Berlin and Vienna: ‘Sonne Luft und Haus für Alle!’ and ‘Das wachsende Haus’, both of which endeavoured to respond the impact that the financial crisis was having on housing…

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At the Limits of Architecture

The Housing Section of the 1930 Stockholm Exhibition

In 1930, the Stockholm Exhibition took place in Sweden. In addition to utensils and applied arts, the exposition included complete dwellings. Attracting 4 million visitors in five months, it is widely considered a breakthrough for functionalism in Swedish architecture and design. The exhibition was initiated by Svenska Slöjdföreningen or the Swedish Arts and Crafts Society. The leader of this designer’s association, Gregor Paulsson, was partly inspired by his 1927 visit to the Weissenhof Siedlungen. The exhibition pavilions, in most cases designed by Gunnar Asplund, radiated hope and optimism, despite the fact that Sweden was facing high unemployment and poor living conditions at the time. In 1931, some of the architects involved in the Housing Section published their controversial manifesto acceptera propagating functionalism as the inevitable solution to the problems of the times. In the following article, Lucy Creagh takes a closer look at their exhibition contributions. – The Editors

In a lecture delivered to the assembled membership of the Svenska Slöjdföreningen on 25 October 1928, Gregor Paulsson identified four key points of difference for the society’s upcoming 1930 Stockholm Exhibition of Industrial Arts, Applied Arts, and Home Crafts. Unlike the great expositions of the nineteenth century, which were simply ‘representative’ of commerce and culture, the Stockholm Exhibition would have a defined socio-economic programme, pushing production and consumption in a specific direction. With the goal of improving the quality and affordability of everyday items of use, for 1930 the Society would broker collaborations between designers and manufacturers with the purpose of developing new models for mass production. Secondly, in a response to the new needs and capabilities of the age, the scope of the exhibition would be extended, moving beyond the limited repertoire of household objects and furnishings that had characterized previous events, such as the Stockholm Exhibition of 1909, to tackle nothing less than the total environment of useful objects, from gramophones to traffic lights.1

As well as this expanded field of exhibits, a third distinction would be the way these objects were displayed. From the haphazard curatorial methods and physical arrangements of the purely representative expositions, and a recent tendency to a ‘museum-like formality’ in applied arts exhibitions, for 1930 the exhibits would be arranged in a more straightforward manner, akin to the ‘the conditions that prevail in ordinary commerce’.2 Juxtaposed with the exhibits organized according to manufacturer would be a series of ‘collective’ displays, each focusing on functional designs for a specific household essential, including chairs, glasses, cutlery and dinner services.3 While some of these goods would already be in production, others would be designed and manufactured especially for the exhibition, but all would be chosen because they fell below a maximum threshold in terms of cost. The final, and perhaps most important distinction for 1930 would be that the home – the point of reference from which Paulsson in this lecture related all objects as being either ‘within’ or ‘outside of’ – would take on a real dimension in 1930.4 The dwelling would no longer be a mocked-up representation inside an exhibition hall, but a fully-scaled, fully-furnished model home, through which the functional, social and economic aspects of housing could be investigated with a degree of specificity hitherto unattempted in Sweden…

Notes:

  • Gregor Paulsson, ‘Stockholmsutställningens program: Föredrag i Svenska Slöjdföreningen den 25 oktober 1928’, in: Kritik och program: ett urval uppsatser, tidningsartiklar och föredrag (Stockholm: Gebers, 1949), 104-107.
  • Ibid., 107.
  • Ibid.
  • Paulsson argued the following in this lecture: ‘It is therefore a logical consequence of the changed concept of industrial art that while household objects were the overwhelmingly most important group at the Stockholm Exhibition of 1909, the 1930 exhibition will comprise three major groups as three equivalent areas of the environment modern people live in: the first group, architecture, primarily housing design as the fixed frame; transportation, street and garden furnishings, the frame for life outside the home as the second group; and finally household items as the third group, the loose objects with which we form our homes.’ Ibid., 106-107.
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The International Building Exhibition Berlin (1957)

A Model for the City of Tomorrow?

The 1957 Berlin Interbau, the international building exhibition, represented an array of superlatives, beginning with its size. When German Federal President Theodor Heuss opened the show on 6 July 1957, the newly built Hansaviertel was presented and thus for the first time an entire new city district as a component of an architectural exhibition. Centrally located in the heart of Berlin, across an area of 25 ha, a total of 1,300 dwellings were established along with community facilities, including two churches, a library, a retail centre and a school (which was built outside the official exhibition zone). In other words, a miniature model city was created within a city centre, an unprecedented step for a German building exhibition…

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Exhibitions at a Turning Point

NWR-BouwRAI 1990 and 1992 in Almere

Two Dutch housing exhibitions that were held in the 1990s triggered a reorientation of the then-current design principles for home plans. The exhibits were the result of an unprecedentedly fruitful and effective relationship between the municipality of Almere, builders, housing corporations, designers and suppliers.
Often, it is only possible in retrospect to determine whether a particular period or event was a turning point in history. In the conventional historical account of public housing in the Netherlands, the introduction of the National Housing Act in 1902, the Second World War and the end of the post-war reconstruction in the second half of the 1960s are all considered pivotal events. In each of these cases, external incidents were the driving force behind radical accent shifts in policy, in the relationships between people involved and in particular in their orientation towards ambitions, in tasks and working methods. In housebuilding practice, turning points are also often reflected in new design principles emerging for houses and neighbourhoods. This makes the housing stock an easy-to-understand source of information about the societal, economic and sociocultural circumstances in which houses and residential districts came into being. In the 1980s a climate of reorientation in housing policy emerged, with radical consequences for the practice of house-building. As a result of political debate about the future of the housing market, the role of government and the development of housing associations, a new course was set and experiments were carried out in which new opportunities were explored. In this article, I will describe the outdoor exhibitions of the NWR-BouwRAI in 1990 and 1992 with the Muziekwijk and the Filmwijk, two neighbourhoods in Almere, which were much-discussed at the time, as a prelude to a reassessment of the appearance of houses and a reorientation on the then-standard design principles for dwelling floor plans. This architectural revival is perfectly understandable in the context of the policy changes deployed as a response to changing societal and political circumstances…

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DASH #08 – Building Together

The Architecture of Collective Private Commissions

Several municipal governments in the Netherlands are looking closely at collective private building commissions. By stimulating private individuals to form commissioning collectives, cities like Almere and Amsterdam hope to relaunch the jammed housing market. In this they are taking a step towards what has been routine in Germany for many years under the name Baugruppen.

In the news coverage about Collective Private Commissioning (CPC), the economic and financial aspects usually take a central position. Often the opportunities that CPC offers for creating new forms of housing, programmes and floor plans that match the requirements of the user receive too little attention. It is precisely this side of the equation that DASH Building Together invests.

Through a number of essays and interviews, DASH shows that CPC collaborations in the Netherlands and abroad have resulted in innovative architecture for decades. With extensive plan documentation charts these programmatic and typological innovations in text and drawings, DASH Building Together provides an architectural slant on the collective private commissioning debate.