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European Themeroute | Housing

The industrialisation caused a revolution in the construction of housing as a result of the grave deficit in decent housing caused by the thousands of workers who migrated to booming factory regions. One of the first entrepreneurs to concern himself with social questions was the early British socialist, ... more

Icon: HousingHere we lived and worked. European Theme Route Housing

The industrialisation caused a revolution in the construction of housing as a result of the grave deficit in decent housing caused by the thousands of workers who migrated to booming factory regions.

One of the first entrepreneurs to concern himself with social questions was the early British socialist, Robert Owen. At the end of the 18th century he conceived an ideal town for his workers in the utopian tradition of the Renaissance. The idea, however, was never implemented. A textile manufacturer by the name of Titus Salt was much more successful in this respect. In 1851 he built an estate of terraced houses called "Saltaire" for his workers in West Yorkshire.

In France Charles Fourier developed similar ideas for cooperative production and housing. Following his example, in 1859, Jean-Baptiste Godin set up a housing estate next to his foundry in Guise, called "Familistère". This consisted of housing blocks several storeys high, each surrounding a large courtyard covered with a transparent glass roof and serving as a common space for all the inhabitants. Public facilities like schools, kindergartens and shops were integrated into the site.

The British town planner, Ebenezer Howard, responded to the uncontrolled growth of cities with the idea of the garden city. Influenced by the thoughts of the American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, he propagated the philosophy of small towns integrated into the countryside, and consisting of single-family houses and community facilities. The land itself was to be owned in common. The concept was made reality in 1903 in the garden city of Letchworth in Hertfordshire. This was soon followed by another garden city in Hampstead, north London.

After the First World War the lack of places to live was so great that governments and corporative companies were compelled to invest huge amounts of money in housing construction. In Great Britain large estates of single-family houses were built; and in Germany blocks of flats where erected, preferably in long parallel lines placed in such a way as to allow sufficient daylight to reach each row. The blocks of flats often contained children's crèches, shops and laundries.

Cooperative philosophies were especially expressed in the housing blocks built in Vienna in the 1920s. The best known of these was the "Karl-Marx-Hof", a monumental "proletarian housing palace" consisting of five-storey houses, each of which surrounded a broad grassy courtyard. Shops and kindergartens, even libraries and post offices were also integrated into these fortress-like housing blocks in "Red Vienna". The Dutch constructed expressive housing blocks. At the start they were often made from traditional red bricks and occasionally crowned with a little tower: later ready-made concrete bricks with individually accented coloured facades were also used, as in the "Watergraafsmeer" garden city near Amsterdam.

By contrast, the housing estates erected by representatives of functional architecture contained cube-shaped houses with flat roofs and white rendering. Standardisation went so far that progressive aspects like facing the housing towards the sun or grassing over courtyards became background considerations once again, even in the housing estates designed by Gropius. In addition, Gropius, who still clung on to the ideal of cooperative housing, committed himself strongly to the building of tower blocks. This trend reached a climax in the work of the architect and artist Le Corbusier. His idea of a housing city was finally implemented in 1955 in the form of the "Unités d’Habitation" in Marseilles. This was a massive concrete edifice containing more than 300 housing units, connected by a network of "streets" and containing two floors of shops. Although it soon became clear that there were blatant deficiencies in the architecture, the site had a huge influence on housing construction. 

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ERIH Anchor Points

Berlin | Germany

It is located in the middle of a residential ...

Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre
Britzer Str. 5
12439 Berlin, Germany

Delmenhorst | Germany

Twelve hours work in suffocating factory rooms ...

Nordwolle
Nordwestdeutsches Museum für Industriekultur
Am Turbinenhaus 10-12
27749 Delmenhorst, Germany

Guspini | Italy

The Anglosardo gallery in Montevecchio on the ...

The Mines of Montevecchio at Geological Mining Park of Sardinia
Miniera di Montevecchio
Piazza Rotundi
09030 Guspini, Italy

Cromford | United Kingdom

The first modern factory in history was built ...

Cromford Mills World Heritage Site
Cromford Mill
DE4 3RQ Cromford, United Kingdom

Lanark | United Kingdom

A small village nestles in the heart of a ...

New Lanark World Heritage Site
New Lanark Mills
ML11 9DB Lanark, United Kingdom

Llanberis | United Kingdom

How do you steal a mountain? You knock it off. ...

National Slate Museum
Padarn Country Park
LL55 4TY Llanberis, United Kingdom

Port Sunlight | United Kingdom

A walk through Port Sunlight is like a journey ...

Port Sunlight
Port Sunlight Village Trust
23 King George’s Drive
CH62 5DX Port Sunlight, United Kingdom

Member Sites ERIH Association

Berlin | Germany

"Pfefferberg" refers to an area with listed ...

Pfefferberg
Schönhauser Allee 176
10119 Berlin, Germany

Dessau-Roßlau | Germany

Along with other architects of the "New ...

The Steel House | Törten Housing Estate
Stahlhaus – Info-Punkt der Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau für die Siedlung Dessau-Törten
Südstraße 5
06849 Dessau-Roßlau, Germany

Frankfurt am Main | Germany

In 1928, IG Farben was the world's ...

Poelzig Building, former IG-Farbenhaus
Norbert-Wollheim-Platz 1
60323 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Lutherstadt Wittenberg | Germany

This housing estate is a real stroke of luck. ...

Piesteritz housing estate
Karl-Liebknecht-Platz 20
06886 Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany

Sonneberg | Germany

Sonneberg, the town of toys, was founded in the ...

Sonneberg Town of Toys
Bahnhofsplatz 1
96515 Sonneberg, Germany

Capriate San Gervasio | Italy

Crespi d’Adda is a community where textiles ...

Crespi d’Adda World Heritage Site
Crespi D’Adda, patrimonio dell’Umanità UNESCO
piazzale Vittorio Veneto 1
24042 Capriate San Gervasio, Italy

Līgatne | Latvia

The 30 wooden houses that comprise the village ...

Līgatne Paper Mill Village
Touristinformation
Spriņģu iela 2
LV 4110 Līgatne, Latvia

Dudelange | Luxembourg

The Document Centre for Human Migrations (CDMH) ...

Document Centre for Human Migrations
Centre de Documentation sur les Migrations humaines (CDMH)
Gare-Usines
3481 Dudelange, Luxembourg

Katowice | Poland

Katowice is a city of more than 300,000 ...

Nikiszowiec Settlement
• Muzeum Historii Katowic, ul. Rymarska 4, 40-425 Katowice +48 (0) 32 - 2561810
• Stowarzyszenie Fabryka Inicjatyw Lokalnych, Plac Wyzwolenia 21
40-423 Katowice, Poland

Żyrardów | Poland

Friendly, hospitable Żyrardów invites you to ...

Zyrardow factory town
Resursa
1 Maja 45
96300 Zyrardow, Poland

Ílhavo | Portugal

The Vista Alegre porcelain factory at Ílhavo is ...

Vista Alegre Museum
Museu da Vista Alegre
3830-292 Ílhavo, Portugal

Getxo | Spain

Along the Quays of Las Arenas and Arriluze you ...

The Big Villas Promenade
Muelle de Las Arenas
48930 Getxo, Spain

Sagunto | Spain

Puerto de Sagunto, one of the latest ...

Puerto de Sagunto
Address Horno Alto nº2: Avenida Altos Hornos 46520 Puerto de Sagunto
Address Tourist Info Sagunto: Plaza Cronista Chabret s/n
46500 Sagunto, Spain

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