Lecture 1. Local Modern: First Experiments in Social Housing (1920-1950)

From its establishment in 1923 until WWII, Turkey’s residential culture was shaped by policies implemented by reformist early republican governments which adopted a western style modernization program. The urban development side of this program was executed by architects and city planners who emigrated to Turkey from German speaking countries as well as by European-trained Turkish architects. Housing played an important role in the making of the new capital, Ankara, where the primary concern was to accommodate a large number of lower and middle-income civil servants. This lecture begins with a brief description and the history of social housing to lay the foundation for the discussions to follow. Then, we quickly visit several examples from the 1920s to the early 1950s across the globe. While all these projects show the different ways in which states linked the housing problem to social reform, we will focus on Turkey because of the creative adaptation of European models for local needs, their varied use as well as their replacement with new typologies. The aim is to challenge the widespread notion that European modernist formulas were simply copied elsewhere by demonstrating the emergence of new forms of architectural modernism. With each example, emergent housing types, layouts and technologies; methods of housing supply; international and local actors behind planning and development; and the vernacular practices which informed the design are briefly assessed.

supporting documents:

Lecture Notes