Plan Documentation
Published in DASH #09 - Housing Exhibitions
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Plan Documentation Housing Exhibitions

The plan documentation for this ninth issue of DASH contains ten exhibition projects that give an overview of the different approaches to, and motivations behind, housing exhibitions during the past 100 years. All of the documented examples featured homes exhibited on a 1:1 scale. With the exception of the exhibition ‘Die Wohnung unserer Zeit’, which was meant to be temporary, the homes in the other nine projects remained even after the exhibition period was finished, and have since been permanently inhabited. Each of these ten exhibitions forms a mirror of the prevailing Zeitgeist. They call for change, expose shortcomings, form a platform for experimentation, offer a stage for political propaganda, or attempt to initiate urban renewal. ‘Ein Dokument deutscher Kunst’ (Darmstadt, 1901) was the first architecture exhibition that consisted entirely of homes and buildings, which themselves formed the objects that were on display. ‘Die Wohnung unserer Zeit’ (Berlin 1931) represents a highpoint in the series of exhibitions from the interwar period. As a result of the exhibition’s temporary nature (all of the exhibited homes or parts of the residential buildings were constructed on a 1:1 scale inside of an exhibition hall), it has since fallen into oblivion. The ‘Wiener Werkbundsiedlung’ (Vienna, 1932) was the last in the series of Werkbund exhibitions, and it focused primarily on the ground-floor, single-family home as a counterpart to the urban superblocks that dominated Vienna’s municipal housing programme. On the eve of the Second World War, ‘Schaffendes Volk’ (Düsseldorf, 1937) was the first exhibition in which the political system used a (housing) building exhibition as a propaganda tool.

The substantial efforts made in terms of post-war reconstruction and housing led anew to a number of important and influential housing exhibitions. For example, ‘Q.T.8 – Quartiere Sperimentale di Triennale di Milano VIII’ (Milan, 1947) was the first major post-war exhibition in Europe, and wound up covering an entire city district. The first projects in Q.T.8 displayed experiments that were meant to find efficient solutions for high-rise and compact low-rise construction. ‘Plan Internationaal’ (Doorwerth, 1967) took place in a period where new voices against the modernist ideals of mass housing began to be heard. The exhibition’s mostly detached prefab homes from abroad, along with several houses designed by Dutch architects, were meant to give the public the opportunity to compare the Dutch residential style to that of other countries.
In ‘Documenta Urbana’ (Kassel, 1982), an appeal was made for small, compact housing in a variety of housing types. In this way, the exhibition critiqued both post-war, large-scale residential architecture and the later sprawling, low-rise neighbourhoods and the exodus from the city. The ‘Internationale Bauausstellung’ (Berlin, 1987) continued these themes, and was the first exhibition to deal not only with new construction, but also with urban renewal and renovation. The exhibition seemed to want to definitively break away from post-war modernism in urban planning and housing, as seen in the 1957 ‘Interbau’ exhibition, which also took place in Berlin (in the Hansaviertel). The exhibition ‘Bo01 City of Tomorrow’ (Malmö, 2001) introduced, alongside a wide variety of housing types, several principles and ideas for a more ecological and sustainable kind of urban development. And finally, the ‘Internationale Bauausstellung’ in Hamburg cannot go unmentioned. It is the most recent building exhibition to have finished (on 3 November 2013), after six years of construction and exhibition activities. The IBA Hamburg addressed the themes of ‘ecology, sustainability, and climate’, ‘the multicultural city’, and ‘inner-city peripheries’.
To make these plans transparent and comparable, the projects have been redrawn in a uniform style. The starting point for these scale drawings was to be the original urban planning diagram, but it proved impossible to achieve this in a uniform way for all of the projects. That is why it was decided to present the project ‘Ein Dokument Deutscher Kunst’ (1901) in the form of two maps. The ‘Wohnung unserer Zeit’ took place in a hall; a diagram of this has been drawn, with the floor plans of the individual homes placed on top of it. For ‘Schaffendes Volk’, the exhibition’s 1937 plan was used as a kind of structural grid, with the current urban situation added on top of it: today, in 2013, the exhibition grounds are mainly used as a park (called Nordpark), and the residential areas from the exhibition have been partially expanded. For ‘Quartiere Sperimentale’ (Q.T.8.) in Milan the third plan by Piero Bottoni, was drawn (III piano, 1953), again set in the current context. In ‘Plan Internationaal’, several homes have since been converted or even demolished; the drawing here shows the plan that was originally realized, based on the exhibition brochure.
The plans for ‘Documenta Urbana’ were ambitious, and were only partially implemented. The drawing in this issue of DASH shows the designers’ original intent. The IBA Berlin of 1987 was the first exhibition that took place across several areas. At various locations in the city, work was done on the reconstruction programme that had been drawn up. Instead of a new overview diagram, what has been drawn here is the situation of the two documented projects. In Malmö, the area in Västra Hamnen (Western Harbour) where construction was to take place had not yet been finished at the time of the ‘Bo01 City of Tomorrow’ exhibition. For this project, DASH shows the final (current) situation. The IBA Hamburg ended in late 2013, and many of the projects that it encompassed will be continued in the coming years. For this issue of DASH, a section of the exhibition in Wilhelmsburg-Mitte (known as ‘the building exhibition within a building exhibition’) has been drawn. All of these projects have since been completed, and are open to visitors.

Several characteristic homes or residential buildings from each of these exhibitions have been elaborated upon. For each of these projects, the most essential floor plans and profiles are shown. The drawings are based on historical publications and archival material. The recent projects in Malmö and Hamburg have been drawn up on the basis of documentation that was provided by the designers who were involved. For this issue, new photo reportages have been made of the projects in Vienna, Düsseldorf, Doorwerth, Milan, Kassel, Berlin, Malmö and Hamburg. For Darmstadt, existing photo footage was used, which is also the case for Berlin, 1931. Old photographs and archival materials were also used for the other projects in order to give an image of these projects during the actual exhibition.


With contributions by:
Paul Kuitenbrouwer, Nelson Mota, Pierijn van der Putt & Karin Theunissen

Guido Greijdanus, Cederick Ingen-Housz, Carlyn Simoen & Wing Yung