Plan Documentation

Plan Documentation of the Residential Floor Plan

The Floor Plan between Standard and Ideal

The design of models for large-scale housing developments has been the greatest architectural challenge of the past 100 years. The search for a high-quality, affordable home has resulted in an almost infinite series of studies, designs and realized projects. For DASH 04 we have selected a series of projects that show a cohesive picture of the on-going process of invention and standardization in the design of the residential floor plan. Without exception, these designs were motivated by the architects’ desire to come up with new and better solutions for the residential floor plan. To make them easier to compare, the ten main projects have been limited to Northern Europe and to designs for the stacked, ‘average’ home. Following their completion these projects were all labelled exemplary in publications and studies. Each project is accompanied by housing designs that show the selected plan in a broader context, either within the designer’s own oeuvre or within the period and conceptions that gave rise to the work.

  • Adolf Rading’s housing block for the Werkbund exhibition ‘Wohnung und Werkraum’ in Wrocław, former Breslau shows a hitherto unknown combination of (perceived to be ideal) solutions for a subdivision, a block arrangement with collective facilities and a transformable living space. This is shown in parallel with floor plans from other contemporary efforts to arrive at a ‘typification’ of the ideal standard dwelling.
  • Peterstorp 3 in Malmö by the architects Dranger and Helldén shows a very different approach. Instead of a search for the ideal standard that was to be repeated endlessly, they introduced an extreme differentiation of housing types within a single block, based on the Swedish standard for an economic housing block: the tjockhus. The adjacent projects for Peterstorp 1 and 2 are also shown here, as well as a standard tjockhus.
  • The Zuidplein Flat, built in post-war Rotterdam, represents a next step in Van Tijen’s research into the ideal stacked dwelling. It is shown alongside earlier versions of this floor plan, as seen in the Bergpolder Flat, for -instance.
  • The work of Hans Scharoun (Rading’s erstwhile partner) centres on the spatial potential of the floor plan. His last major housing block, on Zabel-Krüger-Damm in Berlin, encapsulates his views on housing and on the potential for far-reaching differentiation within a single housing block. It is shown alongside floor plans of some of his other projects in Berlin. What makes them unique is that the architect lived in all of the realized buildings shown here.
  • Bakema and a group of loyal assistants also researched the spatial and programmatic differentiation of both the individual house and housing block. They developed the split-level section for stacked houses in a large number of projects. The Elvira Flat in Delft exhibits a more extreme differentiation than the first realization of the type in Berlin’s Hansaviertel. Other studies and realized projects show variations.
  • Nowhere is the post-war effort to arrive at a new standard for mass housing more prominent than in the work of the housing department of the London County Council. New housing types and ways of stacking were supposed to equal the quality of the traditional terraced house. It culminates in the development of a complex split-level interlocking structure, the scissor section. A commercial development in London used this invention to achieve a maximum number of homes: ‘Corringham’, designed by Kenneth Frampton of Douglas Stephen & Partners. This building is shown alongside other maisonette types from London and Sheffield.
  • In the 1960s and 1970s mass housing was dominated by large-scale industrial output. A series of Eastern -European examples shows snapshots of the development of the Plattenbau, which culminated in the exceptional ‘corn cobs’ in Katowice in Poland, a cluster of high-rises by the architects Buszko and Franta.
  • Dutch industrial housing production is represented here by various types used in the Bijlmermeer estate in Amsterdam. These are shown alongside variants of the ERA house, which draws on the on-site casting system and features an extreme separation of support and infill. This principle, researched and introduced by Habraken and the SAR (Stichting Architecten Research, or Foundation for Architects’ Research), was supposed to be the answer to the monotony and inflexibility of the first industrial building projects. During this period, designers were more focused on the floor plan than ever. The porch-access flat devised by Apon Van den Berg Ter Braak Tromp and realized in various locations in the Netherlands demonstrates how this level of concentration could lead to what remains an almost unparalleled spatial and functional configuration for a stacked house.
  • When large-scale industrial building becomes a thing of the past, the corresponding production techniques do not follow suit. As soon as stacked developments stage a large-scale comeback in the Netherlands in the 1990s, the earlier systems, such as on-site casting with tunnel form-work, are widely used again. Dutch architect Frits van Dongen realizes a large number of housing plans in which he makes the most of these techniques, coming up with new standards such as the B type in housing block Botania in Amsterdam. This standard also forms the basis for new and inventive, hitherto unknown types in this building. Other projects by Van Dongen show other floorplan variations.
  • Finally, we document the Hofblok on KNSM Island in Amsterdam, designed by Swiss office Diener & Diener. They literally inverted the by now ‘traditional’ tunnel form system and developed floor plans that break out of the straitjacket of this building method. Filtered through a foreign lens, Dutch housing culture, renowned the world over, thus manages to give rise to an entirely new interpretation of the standard. Again, this is shown alongside floor plans that deviate from the standard in other ways.

To facilitate comparative analysis all the plans shown here have been redrawn in the same style. Each main project -features an illustrative ‘standard’ floor plan on a detailed scale. Block plan(s) and a block section show the apartment’s position within its context. Where possible, the drawings are based on the submitted drawings from the designers’ own archives or from local authority archives. The drawings tend to show the built reality. Photographs taken especially for this publication show both the interiors and exteriors of the projects in their current, occupied state, supplemented with images from archives and previous publications. One exception to this is the project by Rading, which was drastically altered at a later stage. The drawing here is of the original floor plan design, not the simplified, realized version, which is shown alongside archive photos from the pre-war situation. The additional projects are illustrated with floor plans only, some with a schematic section. The floor plan is complemented with original photographs.