Lecture 2. Competing Worlds: Cold War in Social Housing (1950-1980)

Beginning from the late 1950s, the architectural practice in Turkey began to reflect the latest trends of the “International Style” and policies of the welfare state became more pronounced, advancing the central government’s role in the production of housing. With the use of the Marshall Aid Program, American specialists were invited to the country to prepare reports for low-cost housing developments. On the other side of the Cold War aisle was Soviet Russia, which played a significant role in the development of Turkey’s “statist” economic policies. In the 1960s, social housing types transformed from detached models to mid-rise multifamily housing blocks. This was the time when rural migration to the cities accelerated and a strong working-class emerged, adding up to the growing need for decent housing across the country. While the gecekondu (informal settlements) was defined essentially a social problem to be contained and disciplined, social housing was offered as a practical solution by the authorities. This lecture reviews the Cold War years in the history of social housing in Turkey. The main goal is to show that domestic policy was shaped both by international political developments and everyday informal practices. The scope covers floor plans that deviated from international models; the reports on workers’ housing written by American and UN specialists for cities and rural areas; and large-scale affordable housing projects initiated by the left-wing mayors to deal with the so-called gecekondu problem.

supporting documents:

Lecture Notes