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…