15. September 2014 Reconstruction after WW II

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1 AAR 4812 / Theory and history of housing 15. September 2014 Reconstruction after WW II Housing shortage The idea of the welfare state Social equalization Material safety Focus on production industrialization standardization Optimism trust in the future The whole country was affected by the destructions caused by the Second World War, and in particular the northern parts of the country, where bombing and scorched earth tactics destroyed whole towns, the region faced a severe housing shortage. The public numbers: dwellings were destroyed in Norway during the 2. Ww. Already from before the war there were uncovered needs for housing and a need for replacement of dwellings of poor housing standard, and a growing demand for homes as a consequence of the massive immigration into the cities from rural areas. There had been a standstill of building activities during the war, and finally there was a remarkable increase in the number of marriages during the second half of the 1940s. All these factors together resulted in a serious shortage of decent housing, in Norway it was calculated to at least units. The shortage forced all political parties to actively address housing as one of the main topics in their programs and encouraged the Norwegian government and municipalities to engage heavily in housing production.

2 Housing, as a social right for all, thus became one of the key objectives of the emerging welfare state, and was promoted as a long-term solution for the nation s security and prosperity. The objective was to build as many reasonable dwellings as possible. To provide all people socially acceptable housing for a price they could afford. The Norwegian social housing model after the 2.ww was characterized by: Cooperation between the state, the municipality and the Housing cooperative movement (private).the State Housing Bank gave loans to the housing cooperatives and self builders with very favorable conditions (low mortgage and long down payment time) : The housing bank financed ca 2/3 of all new dwellings. By 1980 more than 80% of the post-war housing stock in Norway had been financed by the State Housing Bank (Reiersen et al. 1996) The state regulated the prices in the housing cooperative sector and the rents in the renting market. The municipality contributed through an active site policy site policy: They purchased and developed sites and sold them on with reasonable prices to individual self builders and housing cooperatives. Housing was regarded as a social right and not as a commodity that could be governed by the market forces and which mainly provided good and spacious homes for those who could afford them, while leaving the great majority to be content with less well-appointed homes. The slogan of the Housing Bank: Good housing for all implied a major change in the housing system from before the war. The double role of the State Housing Bank as a national institution that both financed and ensured the quality of dwellings is remarkable. Especially in the early years when the need for a definition of standards for architectural quality fuelled the discussion about what were considered appropriate housing standards. The discussion about

3 what was considered good housing generally demanded measureable guidelines and standards in order to be assessed. Building standards and room sizes became the main measure of quality in housing, even in a climate where the ambition was to build the best homes within the given financial limitations, and the continuous improvement of designs and processes was considered a collective task that involved architects, planners politicians and the public (Hansen & Guttu 2000) I order to cover the great shortage of housing during the first decades after the war, much effort was given to industrialize the housing production. The solution seemd to be standardization, both when it came to detached houses and multifamily houses. Slide 6 The newly established Housing directorate developed, together with so called district architects all around the country, developed standard houses for the various regions. They carried out architectural competition and many of the best architects of the time took part in these. 12 houses were selected, representing the different regions, and most of them were designed by Jens Selmer. Slide 7 Early in the 1950s it became clear that the great housing shortage could not be met by small detached houses alone. 1951: there were a ban against building detached houses in urban areas. This let to much more large scale housing developments, poarticularly in the largest cities, and industrialization was regarded as the only possibility to reach the goal of decent housing for all. Lambertseter Arkitekt Frode Rinnan. Provided housing for people at the most close to Oslo (today around ). The first real suburb (satellite town) in Norway. Based partly on ideas about neighborhoods from the garden city movement. There were planned a lot of common spaces: Green space, shops, laundry, kindergartens, church, cinema, restaurants, swimming pool, sports facilities. And good communication to the city center by subway. The plan was based on a hierarchical organization in four levels on a first level were common playgrounds were located in front of the kitchen window, on the second level the neighborhood with playing fields for older children and a local shop, on the

4 third level the vicinity center with schools and day care, youth club and kindergarden and traffic station would serve 4-6 neighborhoods with different typologies. On the fourth level the community center with municipal service buildings, a church, more varied shops, offices, hotels and high schools was planned as a district center for the whole satellite town. The mainly three or four storeys housing blocks were grouped in 14 neighborhoods (organized as housing cooperatives) or hamlets around carefully preserved and landscaped greenspaces. Compared to later developments these earlier satellites towns are characterized by their relatively small scale and traditional building. The use of non-prefabricated building materials made standardization and massproduction unnecessary and gave an opportunity to design housing individually. The majority of apartments consisted of two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and a storage room. The architecture was intentionally kept modest, but represented a significant raise of standards compared to the overcrowded, badly insulated, lacking bathrooms and warm water flats of inner-city Oslo at that time. Bøler Even if many people got improved housing standard, the indistrial production methods and the speed in which new developments took place, led to many monotone, static and some meant authoritarian and even hostile suburbs. The density increased and some architects started raining questions about the quality of life in these areas. Ammerud The critique against the high rise housing estates become continuously stronger in the 1960s. In came the socalled Ammerud report, where researchers had done a study of housing quality in the area. This report supposedly found that the blocks were not suitable for families with children, at least that was the conclusion drawn in the public debate. The authors of the report, Thorbjørn Hansen and Anne Sæterdal, described the problems of the large-scale housing projects with a lack of public facilities and difficult

5 access to work places. This started a critical discussion on how social housing had to be changed to fulfill the needs of users; a criticism fueled by the international political climate of the 1968 movements and their call for more democracy and focus on ecology. Ammerud illustrates the influence of this growing demand for technical innovation and demand for efficiency in the building industry. Prefabrication of concrete elements, that were pieced together at site made it possible to produce large scale housing in what was considered a fast and cheap manner and in large numbers. Ammerud was designed by the Norwegian architect Håkon Mjelva, a member of the progressive architecture group PAGON, the Norwegian CIAM branch, that had been strongly influenced by the international tendencies of iconic large-scale housing projects. He conceived Ammerud as a purely dormitory town consisting of terraced houses with contrasting high-rise blocks and low-rises, some of them in long terraces, and provided with a local center at the subway station. Although a train station was opened in 1966, it was to a high degree a car dependent neighboruhood. Altogether 246 housing units in low-rise blocks, 1245 apartments in high-rise blocks to the west and 236 homes in atrium-houses to the north. The spatial idea of grouping several building as hamlets as in Lambertseter were left out as a hierarchical level, replacing them with larger areas of identical buildings, such as atrium houses and high rises. In order to achieve aesthetical variation these building typologies were placed in a way so they could visually contrast each other. Best experienced from a birds eye perspective. Outdoor spaces between the buildings were kept wide and open, as undifferentiated communal outdoor spaces, complemented by balconies as their clearly defined private counterpart. Due to requirements for efficiency of the size of the concrete parts and the placements of the crane tracks for assembly the flats got deeper, with less façadelength per apartment. As a result kitchens, bathrooms and other secondary rooms were placed in the middle without direct openings for sunlight or ventilation.

6 The State Housing Bank took up the critique raised by the researchers and started using its influence by refusing loans to large-scale high-rise housing projects, which did not focus on the living conditions of its inhabitants (Hansen & Guttu 2000; Reiersen et al. 1996). The absence of discussions about user needs in the earlier processes is indeed striking and could be explained by the self-appointed role of the modern movement, which was to educate the user how to dwell rather than respond to the way users appropriate their dwelling spaces. The Ammerud case shows an example of the debate about modern housing developments that was paralleled in many other countries. This will be the topic for the next lecture.

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