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Dossier : Small-scale Building Enterprise and Global Home Ownership. Beyond the Welfare State


Konstantina Kalfa, Stavros Alifragkis et Panayotis Tournikiotis

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  • 1 After the 1980s decline of the welfare state, housing got intensively commoditized, being regulate (...)

1This ABE Journal themed section investigates how ad-hoc private initiatives, small-scale homebuilding enterprises, and common-interest developments, such as housing co-operatives, have shaped housing and urban land development practices between the end of WWII and the rise, in the late-1980s, of the global, neoliberal housing markets.1 Beyond the affluent, industrialized states of Western Europe, speculative housing development thrived as a viable alternative to top down policies, thus contributing, in the long run, to the proliferation of an unassuming, non-pedigreed urban and peri-urban architectural production, much as it had in previous moments in history, in Western Europe. As this dossier demonstrates, any number of reasons may have contributed to this, including, but not limited to, the absence of a regulatory environment, the lack of land use masterplans, the inadequacy of centrally planned policies for social housing, or the legal grey areas of ill-conceived and poorly-executed housing policies. As housing became a high-return investment in both regulated and non-regulated markets, it significantly determined the development of the architectural profession, its ethos, and its practices. Understanding the determinants and the various, dynamic crystallizations of the self-sustaining cycle that interconnects state power (i.e., central or local administrative bodies), small-scale private initiatives (e.g., landowners, real-estate agents or developers, small-to-medium scale building contractors, housing cooperatives, prospective buyers etc.), architects (both unacclaimed and renowned), and the production of housing (via predominantly nondescript buildings whose authorship is often difficult to establish) lies at the core of this themed section of ABE Journal.

  • 2 “Antiparochi and (its) architects: Histories of social forces, spatial politics, and the architect (...)
  • 3 Kenneth FRAMPTON, “Introduction,” in Modern Architecture: A Critical History [Greek edition], Athe (...)

2The above mentioned focus of interest that serves as the backbone for this collection of papers was also the ground on which the guest editors of this section based the recently concluded, three-year-long, collaborative research program conducted at the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens, Greece.2 Our project sought to investigate how the post-WWII social mandate for a modern and prosperous Greece translated, among other trends, into favorable legislation and corresponding building codes that encouraged the construction of mid-rise, high-density apartment blocks on privately-owned plots. This mode of housing construction relied upon land owners transferring the development rights to chiefly small-scale contractors with varying degrees of professional expertise, in exchange for an agreed number of ground floor shops and/or flats of different types and sizes on the same plot. Through this land-for-flats arrangement (the so-called antiparochì type of land development), post-WWII living standards in Greece rose by almost six times by 1973, while Athens and other Greek cities were lined with modern apartment blocks featuring up-to-date amenities that catered to the emerging consumerist society—a newly urbanized workforce that began to embrace consumerism—and its taste for affluence at affordable cost. Most crucially, this socially transformative modernization process—as expressed in the regeneration of the urban and peri-urban space—propagated a collective vision about future progress and prosperity, a domestic “American dream” so to speak, to which all individuals, regardless of class, education, or vocation, could aspire. In this dynamic postwar reality, new kinds of housing design “specialists” emerged, involving both the formally trained architect or civil engineer and the layperson, who had acquired their qualifications in the build-and-sell business through learning on the job, with unsophisticated and low-tech construction techniques and standardized building practices. The mass application of such practices afforded Athens, and other major Greek cities, with the unmistakable image of ostensible formal homogeneity that prompted leading architectural historian and theorist Kenneth Frampton to describe the Greek capital as a “a modern city par excellence”:3 a sort of bottom-up modern city, where, with the exception of basic infrastructure systems, aspiring urban dwellers were essentially financing the city’s transition to modernity. Ironically enough, by the time the polykatoikìa had gained international prestige, in the late 1980s, as a model for mid-rise, high density mixed-use urban development, Athens was lagging behind the rest of Europe in public outdoor spaces and was overwhelmed with vehicular traffic. By then, smog and environmental degradation had reached unprecedented levels, forcing anti-pollution measures and fueling waves of discontent among city-dwellers about the way Athens and other Greek cities were urbanized.

3Inasmuch as its exceptionality is real and significant in and of itself, situating the Greek case within a global social, political, and economic context offers not only a better, critical understanding of domestic phenomena but also a transnational, comparative perspective of small-to-medium scale, private-led housing production and the vicissitudes of architectural practice therein, for a period that spans from the end of WWII and the ensuing “heroic” economic recovery to the shifting sensibilities of the 1980s. To this end, the GUDesign workshop “Cooperative House-Building Practices in the Aftermath of WWII,” held between 3 November to 8 December 2021,4 as well as the session entitled “Internal Immigrants and the Making of the Modern House,” scheduled for the 15th conference of the European Association of Urban History, both coordinated and chaired by Panayotis Tournikiotis and Konstantina Kalfa, gather diverging examples of “informal”, co-operative house-building practices in countries as diverse as Greece, Spain, Brazil, Turkey, Lithuania, Iran, and Finland.5 Setting side by side these case studies, rarely compared in this respect, expands our perception not only of the different strands and forms of architectural modernity after WWII but also of the subjects that produced and/or consumed it. This investigation will be further pursued at the conference session “Beyond Housing. Transnational Programs and Speculative Developments,” chaired by Konstantina Kalfa and Sıla Karataş, scheduled for the Society of Architectural Historians 2023 Annual International Conference, with a view to establish the common ground between the US, the UN, or other international agencies' foreign aid schemes and the consequent small-to-medium scale speculative developments in housing that emerged in the aid-receiving countries.6

  • 7 On welfare housing, see: Miles Glendinning, Mass Housing. Modern Architecture and State Power – A (...)
  • 8 For a relevant discussion, see, for example, James Fowkes and Michaela Hailbronner, “Decolonizing (...)

4The collection of research papers presented in this themed section of ABE Journal focuses on in-depth analyses of comparable experiences from countries beyond Western Europe and North America and the well-documented traditions of their welfare housing models.7 Here, transcending the geographies of Europe is interpreted in a more flexible and productive manner: by incorporating the telling case-studies from postwar Greece and soviet Lithuania, this section also revisits modernity’s rationalist vision for a homogenous European space and post-modernity’s subsequent “decolonization” of Europe’s national imaginaries.8 It thus attempts to cast national and local settings into a new perspective and challenge established conceptions of core-periphery relations. Examined through this perspective, distant but comparable phenomena, i.e., instances of urban, private-led, owner-occupied, multi-family housing complexes in very different territorial and political contexts could well be construed as alternatives to state-built welfare housing, i.e., to the housing directly commissioned by the welfare state. Their parathesis and critical appreciation as an interconnected series of discrete case-studies offer a way for drawing useful analogies, mutatis mutandis, between their corresponding house-building practices, their regulatory/legislative frameworks and the ways people and societies perceive them. Moreover, of particular interest here is how these house-building cases impact the formation of the architectural profession and the role of the architect.

Building on a common ground

5Diverse as they may be, the topics of the four research papers included in this themed section share considerable common ground in a series of critical issues briefly codified below. First, they all critically address the fact that the different models of small-scale, private-led initiatives in housing development they examine appeared in, and were characteristic of, an era of transition towards free market capitalism. In all four cases, this highly contested period is crisscrossed by bureaucratic and administrative milestones that assert the decisive role of old and newly established centers of diffused power: in India, from the demise of the center-led housing agendas of the Nehruvian state, to the fueling of “non-agricultural” land development by private parties after 1976 and the ratification of relevant legislation; in Turkey, from the end of the Marshall Plan aid, to the Flat Ownership Law [Kat Mülkiyeti Kanunu] of 1965 that provoked a private-led property development boom; in Greece, from the roaring drive of antiparochì—which capitalized on earlier, favorable legislation, throughout the early 1960s to the period of the military Junta (1967-1974)—to its temporary decline due to the global oil crisis of 1973; and finally, in the non-capitalist context of socialist Lithuania, from a highly-regulated housing provision system, to the timid loosening of the state’s grip over housing construction, introduced by the decree “On Individual and Co-operative Housing Construction” of 1962.

6Second, all authors acknowledge, in one way or another, that it was this transitional era, which could be situated, for all four papers, slightly before or after the recession that followed the so-called postwar economic boom—experienced also in the Soviet Union as an era of sustained growth—that framed the work of architects and planners and impaired the corresponding social perception of architecture and planning in their respective countries. Instead of lamenting the profession’s fall from virtue and lack of visionary luster in this nebulous period, all four authors demonstrate a conscious and decisive interest in the creative adventures of the many un-acknowledged subjects and agents of global house-building and house-acquisition markets and their contribution—formal/institutional or informal—to the actual end-product of architectural design. By employing heuristically rich research toolsets, such as interviews with the protagonists of the time and extensive research in thus far little-studied private archives, the authors bring a wealth of fresh and rare material into architectural historiography. What is more, by diving into archival and non-archival records—bureaucratic and administrative documents, regulatory and legislative codes, etc.—authors in this volume suggest a more culturally sensitive way of studying the history of architecture in general and of particular architects in their daily dealings with bureaucracy and the legal framework. Records of bureaucracy, in particular, enable the study of objects and practices that seldom get discussed in conventional dissemination spheres.

7A third important common thread that runs through the contributions of this dossier is their substantiated exposition of the historical linkages between the “informality” of private housing and the broader political and economic agendas of the times. The papers featured in this issue demonstrate that co-operative and small-entrepreneurial house-building practices, apart from often constituting an affordable response to housing shortages, have indisputably allowed for a greater degree of diversity and flexibility compared to the centrally designed welfare housing model. Such practices enabled future occupants to have a say in the design of their own homes and, as a consequence, the image of their cities. However, these shifts are examined in this volume as the result of various “development” goals and strategies, and top-down measures. These were usually associated with political and social benefits that constructed and, at the same time, responded to a spiraling need for better standards of living, which, in most cases, meant not only “decent” but, even more so, “luxury” housing. The fact that material luxury, property-titles, and small-entrepreneurialism empowered certain social groups is therefore, as the four papers suggest, linked to the postwar era’s political promise for a fully modernized society of greater degrees of comfort, choice, and individuality.

Exploring shifting perspectives

8In Pune (India), the close study of two unremarkable speculative apartment buildings, Jayanti (1974-1987) by Vishwakumar Vishwanath Badawe Architects (established in 1963) and Nishat (1985-1988) by Space Designers’ Syndicate (founded in 1980), paints a complex yet compelling picture of the gray area between the various governmental entities, the architects involved, and their clients, which called for a certain degree of creative thinking and flexibility in their everyday dealings with one another. Sarah Melsens, Inge Bertels, and Amit Srivastava, in “Intermingled Interests: Social Housing, Speculative Building and Architectural Practice in 1970s and 1980s Pune (India),” use these two cases as a vehicle to critically discuss the transformation of the urban and peri-urban space of Pune induced by the Maharashtra Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, which was introduced in 1976 with a view to hold land speculation in check and encourage the construction of low-income housing by private developers. As suggested in the paper, both aims proved to be too ambitious and complex, generating multiple ripples of impact across the local housing construction industry and posing unparalleled challenges to local architectural firms. Instead of limiting the discussion to the well-argued shortcomings of these policies, though, this paper boldly shifts the focus of attention to their impact on such everyday phenomena as the “diffuse and indirect forms of power and resistance” that take place in architectural design, production, and reception processes. In so doing the paper supports the thesis that speculation is deeply rooted in society and, thus, should be historicized, i.e., become the subject-matter of a thorough examination in its complex cultural ties with each era’s and society’s governing powers. By historicizing the speculative processes instantiated in the two buildings under consideration, this paper ultimately challenges the still prevalent idea of sharp distinctions between formal and informal processes of housing production.

  • 9 Unpublished research conducted as part of the “Antiparochi and (its) Architects: Histories of Soci (...)

9Konstantina Kalfa and Lefteris Theodosis’ paper entitled “Dealing with the Commonplace: Constantinos A. Doxiadis and the Zygos Technical Company” provides a critical account of the Zygos S.A. construction company, established in Athens in 1962 by the internationally renowned planner Constantinos A. Doxiadis. Juxtaposed to Doxiadis’ diverse international ventures, Zygos had an astonishingly limited scope: for about a decade, it mostly pursued the construction of polykatoikìes, i.e., mid-rise apartment blocks, in the broader area of Athens, where Doxiadis Associates had its headquarters, based on the antiparochì system. As Kalfa and Theodosis suggest, Zygos provides a valuable case-study for a closer examination of, on the one hand, the land development system of antiparochì and its modus operandi and, on the other hand, the roles reserved for architects and engineers in a booming but single-minded postwar construction market. Inasmuch as the company did not bring the profits originally expected—Zygos’ activities were eventually suspended in 1974, after being condemned as a business failure for Doxiadis’ high standards—the very fact of Doxiadis’ involvement in the Athenian real estate market demonstrates the pervasive influence of antiparochì as a means to capitalize on urban land. As this paper shows, the case of Zygos is also particularly significant in that it evinces the existence of a social contract between the Greek state and civil society after WWII: the regulatory framework set by Doxiadis while in public office, in the immediate postwar years, was crucial in boosting the proliferation of antiparochì and promoting an economic development for the country, which was meant to be based on the house-building industry. Thus, the paper moves towards an understanding of antiparochì—so far mostly considered as a phenomenon that emerged as a result of a failed state9—in the context of the notion of the commonplace, as the complex result of the symbiosis of top-down incentives, market entrepreneurship, and social dynamics.

10Sıla Karataş, in her paper “From Marshall Plan to Hilton 'in the wild': The Transnational History of a Local Co-operative Housing in Esat, Ankara,” discusses the case of Mintrak Apartmanı—by renowned architects Rahmi Bediz (1916-2010) and Demirtaş Kamçıl (1916-1980)—as a uniquely condensed example of political, ideological, and symbolic intertwinement, which represents a telling crystallization of the processes of cultural transfer and diffusion between the USA and Turkey in the post-Marshall Plan era. Mintrak, a multifamily apartment block for high-level private employees—representing one of the earliest instances of “contextualized” International Style in Turkey on account of such imported formal traits as the later-abandoned pilotis and its terraced roof that gradually became indigenous—was built in Ankara’s up-and-coming Esat neighborhood. It was the product of the Mintrak Building Co-operative Partnership (1956-1962), a white-collar workers’ housing co-operative found by the TürkTraktör tractor company, established in 1955 as a US-Turkish transnational company, in the context of Turkey’s post-Marshall Plan processes of administrative, economic, and social consolidation. Karataş critically revisits official reports and rare public and private archival sources, such as photographs of everyday domestic life and architectural drawings, and makes efficient use of documented oral accounts by co-operative members and residents of the block to provide a succinct cultural history of the project, not as a one-off instance of US-inspired architectural modernity, but as an archetypal manifestation of co-operative housing production in postwar Turkey that drew freely from the self-help housing model of the Marshall Plan era (1948-1952). In doing so, this paper investigates the embedded—as in a Russian doll—and overlapping structures of power between local actors of certain social stature, nascent national networks, and US-Turkish transnational initiatives as conceptualized in the rapid architectural and urban transformation of Ankara and other major cities in postwar Turkey.

11Lastly, Marija Drėmaitė’s paper “Co-operative Housing in State Socialist Lithuania as a Field of Architectural Experimentation” investigates a less acknowledged aspect of the state’s social housing policy in major cities of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania from the 1960s to the 1980s: that of a niche alternative to the state-owned, centrally-planned, mass-produced, and allocated urban flat. Prompted by reforms already underway by the early 1960s (mainly the decree “On Individual and Co-operative Housing Construction” of 1962), the construction of privately owned houses with private funds by housing co-operatives was re-introduced in major Lithuanian cities hereby providing certain socio-occupational/economic groups, who had the means to afford such ambitious undertakings, with the opportunity, on the one hand, to bypass the housing distribution practices of the times and, on the other hand,—and more importantly for this discussion—to exert some degree of control, however limited this may now seem, over the design of their houses. Furthermore, the reinstatement of housing co-operatives created space for the slow but gradual development of a culture of artistic and creative freedom for architects. By conducting a thorough review of the bibliography and adopting such potent historiographical tools as oral testimonies of the protagonists themselves (e.g., interviews with architect Algimantas Mačiulis), this research shifts the focus from the well-documented challenges of standardization, quality control, and apartment allocation processes to the conflicting ideologies represented in the antithesis between state-run and privately-initiated housing and their implications on architectural practice. Understanding the custom design of “block sections” for co-operative housing as a field of creative experimentation with the standard model and as deviation from the norm, as this paper aptly suggests through the close study and critical analysis of evocative examples, illuminates a much more complex and diverse reality for the Soviet mass housing system than commonly acknowledged.

Concluding remarks: On architectural historiography and global modernities

  • 10 For a broad array of relevant studies see: Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, Writing (...)

12In closing this brief introduction to the themed dossier, one feels tempted to broaden the scope of this investigation, by slightly shifting its focus from the critical examination of comparable cross-national cases to the exploration of the epistemological tools, theories, and disciplines that render these studies possible and their comparison legitimate. Discussing the papers featured in this themed dossier in the context of the relatively recent academic literature brings a potent niche area of research on modern (and post-modern) architectural history to light. Undoubtedly, the emphasis that this themed section places on “entrepreneurship” and “homeownership” does not represent an unduly optimistic reading of their historic strength and symbolic weight. In other words, this section is neither a glorification of private initiative and enterprise nor does it foster homeownership as the centerpiece of the building of a presumably democratic civic society. Rather, it registers an attempt to engage in both “entrepreneurship” and “homeownership's” critical appreciation and historization. In doing so, this themed section acknowledges a methodological turn with regard to current historiographical practices that foregrounds a replenished interest in diverse subject matters, including the questions of architectural patronage and authorship and non-pedigreed architecture, while using different types of historical evidence that, until recently, had been marginalized by the canonical narratives of architecture.10

  • 11 Gaia Caramellino and Federico Zanfi (eds.), Post-war Middle-class Housing. op. cit. (note 1).
  • 12 Stefan Aue, Jesko Fezer, Martin Hager, Christian Hiller, Nikolaus Hirsch, Anne Kockelkorn and Rein (...)

13The past few years have witnessed a structural reappraisal of the architectural historiography of modernism, with limited scholarly works, however, addressing the small-scale, market-led, speculative housing production in a cross-national perspective. One of the most recent ones is Gaia Caramellino’s and Federico Zanfi’s edited volume Post-War Middle-Class Housing,11 where telling examples of distinct city cultures offer a kaleidoscopic overview of “the world of domestic middle-class architecture,” as developed in the 1960s and the 1970s. An additional contribution to the topic, albeit referring to the subsequent era, where corporate monopolies and mortgage credit are the canon, constitute Housing after the Neoliberal Turn. International Case Studies,12 where a series of essays from the fields of architecture, anthropology, economy, and literature deal with the often conflicting contexts of contemporary housing production across the globe. Together with our thematic dossier, these publications invite us to consider the dynamic and densely synthesized matrix of relationships between architecture, housing, and society, thus solidly anchoring architectural practice in the social reality of its time. At the same time, these studies represent a fresh historiographical spin that promotes both the use of previously unexplored sources, techniques, and theoretical approaches and the exploration of overlooked topics of historical inquiry. The unequivocal benefit of these transformational shifts is that contemporary scholarly discourse signposts the way towards acknowledging the plurality of the actors directly or indirectly involved in the design and production of (middle-class) housing and, therefore, the pluralism of the protagonists of architectural and urban history. As Caramellino and Ζanfi aptly note:

  • 13 Gaia Caramellino and Federico Zanfi (eds.), Post-war Middle-class Housing, op. cit. (note 1), p. 2 (...)

If […] the history of architecture has attentively investigated the work of a few leading architects who developed prestigious residential solutions, many of the essays reveal the plurality of anonymous stakeholders, pieces in a multi-faceted and fragmented professional panorama […] It is evident that in many cases the architects’ work only concerns a minority share of the market and their cultural superiority is in no way taken for granted.13

  • 14 Rana Habibi, Modern Middle-Class Housing in Tehran - Reproduction of an Archetype: Episodes of Urb (...)
  • 15 In Europe (and, we may add, beyond), the recurring prophecy of the decline of the middle-class has (...)

14Furthermore, recent studies on middle-class housing beyond Europe that do not necessarily delve into cross-national comparisons have also made a significant contribution to current historiographical practices with their decentered histories of global modernism. Indicative of such non-normative accounts is Rana Habibi’s Modern Middle-Class Housing in Tehran,14 whose in-depth analysis of Iran’s postwar rapid modernization through both state and private-led mass housing projects not only debates the position of the country amidst other non-Western architectural modernisms, but also calls into question the ways these modernisms—often cast in the light of post-colonialism and compared to an idealized Euro-centric notion of modernity—are perceived.15

  • 16 Katie Lloyd Thomas, Tilo Amhoff and Nick Beech (eds.), Industries of Architecture, New York, NY; L (...)
  • 17 See in particular: Ricardo Agarez, “The Architectural Discourse of Building Bureaucracy: Architect (...)
  • 18 Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, Governing by Design, op. cit. (note 1). On the (col (...)
  • 19 On a critical overview of speculation see: Susanne Lachenicht, “Cultures of Speculation-Histories (...)

15Closely related threads of academic inquiry that lie at the very heart of this section’s particular interest are the production mechanisms of the built environment or, so to speak, the “industries of architecture.” In 2016, Katie Lloyd Thomas, Tilo Amhoff, and Nick Beech paved the way towards bringing issues “too often passed over in silence”—from aspects of professional practice, building specifications, contracts and technical literature to all sorts of labor divisions and industries—into the history and theory of architecture.16 The book’s contributions exposed the multiple and complex exchanges between these sectors and architecture in a wide range of building cultures and frameworks, thus challenging established perceptions of architectural creation as an isolated intellectual work that materializes in blank space. Of special interest in this book is the discussion on bureaucracy and how it shaped a potentially flexible—rather than rigid, as is often presumed—framework for negotiating architectural practice and its products.17 Indeed, as both design and building increasingly became bureaucratized in modern societies, not only in the context of technocratic central planning, but also in more decentralized and speculative environments—where bureaucracy proved even more potent in regulating power relations—, architectural historians are now more and more keen to include the study of bureaucratic administration in various national, state, and political contexts.18 In this section, Marija Drėmaitė’s, as well as Sarah Melsens, Inge Bertels, and Amit Srivastava’s papers demonstrate how revealing and promising this new interest in bureaucracy can be, as a step towards understanding how architecture is historically produced. When it comes to land and real estate speculation—the study of which has, as discussed, a special place in this themed section, particularly in the context of the Greek, the Turkish, and the Indian housing markets—, addressing the ways architects and other actors interacted with bureaucracy becomes an intriguing task in itself, as it provides the means to unpack instances of conflicting interests and negotiating dynamics that often co-formatted the policies, standards, and guidelines that surround the construction industry and co-shaped the formal, ideological, and symbolic dimensions of the urban space.19

  • 20 Howard Davis, The Culture of Building, New York, NY; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • 21 Vladimir Kulić, Keynote lecture at the seminar “Belgrade Mass Housing Apartment and Far Beyond” he (...)

16Ultimately, this series of papers promotes, to a certain degree, the reconceptualization of building practices in diverse natural, cultural, and political contexts along the lines of what Howard Davis has termed “building cultures”20, or, more recently and from a slightly complementary perspective, Vladimir Kulić called “design ecosystems” in order to describe ad hoc processes that evolve in perpetuity and in response to ever-changing challenges that include, but are not limited to interlocking functions: regulatory frameworks; institutional bodies, clients, communities of interest, and/or investors with varying degrees of power in the decision-making processes; and the formation of the architectural profession as shaped by its formal studies and the influence of professional unions and associations. These ecosystems appear to predetermine the modes of building, the roles architecture acquires therein, as well as its cultural reception.21 In this respect, this themed section will hopefully contribute to the growing awareness among architectural historians of the intricate nature of the architectural profession and its postwar adventures in intertwined local and global environments. Overall, this collection of studies may contribute to an alternative, possibly more down-to-earth history of the profession, one that resists the potentially inconsistent, unbalanced, or omissive grand historical narratives, the monographic tradition of visionary architects, the promotion of architectural genius over rank-and-file architectural practice, or the idealization of grandiose modernist projects of centrally planned social housing.

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1 After the 1980s decline of the welfare state, housing got intensively commoditized, being regulated by corporate monopolies and mortgage credit: see, Jonathan Massey, “Risk and Regulation in the FinancialArchitecture of American Houses,” in Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, Governing by Design: Architecture, Economy, and Politics in the 20th Century, Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012 (Culture, Politics and the Built Environment), p. 21-46; Idem, “Housing Risk: Neoliberal Homeownership in the U.S.,” in Gaia Caramellino and Federico Zanfi (eds.), Post-War Middle-Class Housing: Models, Construction, and Change, Bern: Peter Lang, 2016, p. 309-328; Anne Kockelkorn, “Introduction: A Sample Atlas,” in Stefan Aue, Jesko Fezer, Martin Hager, Christian Hiller, Nikolaus Hirsch, Anne Kockelkorn and Reinhold Martin (

eds.), Housing after the Neoliberal Turn: International Case Studies, Berlin: Haus der Kulturen der Welt and Spector Books, 2015.

2 “Antiparochi and (its) architects: Histories of social forces, spatial politics, and the architectural profession in Greece, 1929-1974,” (September 2018-March 2022), School of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens. Host Institution Project Manager: Professor Panayotis Tournikiotis. Principal Investigator: Dr Konstantina Kalfa; Research Associates: Dr Emilia Athanassiou and Dr Stavros Alifragkis; Research Assistants: Christos-Georgios Kritikos, Xenia Sotiropoulou, and Dr Eleni Gkadolou. Τhe program was funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation of the General Secretariat for Research and Technology. On other, contemporary readings of the polykatoikìa see: Anastasia Paschou, Urban block in post-war Athens: Development, form and social context, PhD thesis, Zurich: ETH, 2008; Ioanna Theocharopoulou, Builders, Housewives and the Construction of Modern Athens, London: Artifice Books on Architecture, 2017; Richard Woditsch, The Public Private House: Modern Athens and its Polykatoikia, Zurich: Park Books, 2019.

3 Kenneth FRAMPTON, “Introduction,” in Modern Architecture: A Critical History [Greek edition], Athens: Themelio, 1987, p. 14.

4 GUDesing network - Thematic Node: Housing People, Shaping Cities; Seminar: Cooperative House-Building Practices in the Aftermath of WWII. Program with abstracts available at: Accessed 01 June 2022.

5 EAUH2022 | University of Antwerp. Conference programme available at: Accessed: 01 June 2022.

6 SAH 2023 Montréal & Virtual Conference. Call for Papers available at: Accessed 01 June 2022.

7 On welfare housing, see: Miles Glendinning, Mass Housing. Modern Architecture and State Power – A Global History, London; New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2021; Tom Avermaete, Mark SwenartoN and Dirk van den HeuveL (eds.), Architecture and the Welfare State, London; New York, NY: Routledge, 2015.

8 For a relevant discussion, see, for example, James Fowkes and Michaela Hailbronner, “Decolonizing Eastern Europe: A Global Perspective on 1989 and the World it Made,” International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol. 17, no. 2, April 2019, p. 497-509.

9 Unpublished research conducted as part of the “Antiparochi and (its) Architects: Histories of Social Forces, Spatial Politics and the Architectural Profession in Greece, 1929-1974” program reveals that the theorization of antiparochì as a result of the state’s failure to provide viable, top-down alternatives was and still is a recurring and dominant theme, shared throughout the political spectrum, both in the Greek press and the parliamentary discussions. More nuanced approaches are to be found, for instance, in: Judith Allen, James Barlow, Jesús Leal, Thomas Maloutas, Liliana Padovani, Housing and Welfare in Southern Europe, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004 (Real Estate Issues), p. 59–65.

10 For a broad array of relevant studies see: Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, Writing Architectural History: Evidence and Narrative in the Twenty-First Century, Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press 2021; Vikramaditya Prakash, Maristella Casciato and Daniel E. Coslett (eds.), Rethinking Global Modernism: Architectural Historiography and the Postcolonial, London; New York, NY: Routledge, 2022.

11 Gaia Caramellino and Federico Zanfi (eds.), Post-war Middle-class Housing. op. cit. (note 1).

12 Stefan Aue, Jesko Fezer, Martin Hager, Christian Hiller, Nikolaus Hirsch, Anne Kockelkorn and Reinhold Martin (

eds.), Housing after the Neoliberal Turn. op. cit. (note 1). See also: Nelson Mota and Yael Allweil (eds.), The Architecture of Housing after the Neoliberal Turn, Footprint, vol. 13, no. 1, issue #24, Spring/Summer 2019.

13 Gaia Caramellino and Federico Zanfi (eds.), Post-war Middle-class Housing, op. cit. (note 1), p. 27.

14 Rana Habibi, Modern Middle-Class Housing in Tehran - Reproduction of an Archetype: Episodes of Urbanism 1945–1979, Leiden; Boston, MA: Brill, 2020.

15 In Europe (and, we may add, beyond), the recurring prophecy of the decline of the middle-class has taken the form of an enduring social crisis that now appears to threaten the liberal bastions of housing markets, as becomes evident in The Vulnerable Middle Class? Editors Egger and Moser bring together a collection of papers that highlight the cultural, anthropological, and ethnographic challenges facing the post-modern city as a result of the rising cost of living in the thriving economies of Germany and Sweden. It is no surprise that many authors discuss collaborative projects, such as housing co-operatives, as a bulwark against heightened land speculation. Johannes Moser and Simone Egger (eds.), The Vulnerable Middle Class? Strategies of Housing in Prospering Cities, Munich: Utzverlag, 2019.

16 Katie Lloyd Thomas, Tilo Amhoff and Nick Beech (eds.), Industries of Architecture, New York, NY; London: Routledge, 2016 (Critiques : Critical Studies in Architectural Humanities, 11).

17 See in particular: Ricardo Agarez, “The Architectural Discourse of Building Bureaucracy: Architects’ Project Statements in Portugal in the 1950s,” in Katie Lloyd Thomas, Tilo Amhoff and Nick Beech (eds.), Industries of Architecture, op. cit. (note 16), p. 222-233.

18 Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, Governing by Design, op. cit. (note 1). On the (colonial) precursors of design bureaucracy see: Arindam Dutta, The Bureaucracy of Beauty: Design in the Age of its Global Reproducibility, New York, NY; London: Routledge, 2006. On the bureaucratic system in the “developing” countries as a power field see: Ginger Nolan, “Folders, Patterns and Villages: Pastoral Technics and the Center for Environmental Structure,” in Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, Architecture in Development: Systems and the Emergence of the Global South, New York, NY; London: Routledge, 2022. On the bureaucracy behind prewar suburban development and postwar urban renewal guided by real estate developers in the USA see: Sara Stevens, Developing Expertise: Architecture and Real Estate in Metropolitan America, New Haven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 2016. On how a regional strand of modern architecture matured in Southern Portugal, not only because of purely artistic/architectural ideas, but also through the architects’ interactions with bureaucratic procedures see: Ricardo Agarez, Algarve Building: Modernism, Regionalism and Architecture in the South of Portugal, 1925-1965, New York, NY; London: Routledge, 2016.

19 On a critical overview of speculation see: Susanne Lachenicht, “Cultures of Speculation-Histories of Speculation,” in Jeanne Cortiel, Christine Hanke, Jan Simon Hutta and Colin Milburn (eds.), Practices of Speculation : Modeling, Embodiment, Figuration, Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2020 (Culture and Theory, 202), p. 31-48. For a broader discussion on the subject see: Gayle Rogers, Speculation: A Cultural History from Aristotle to AI, New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2021. Another insightful approach for the Indian context is: Laura Bear, Ritu Birla and Stine Simonsen Puri, “Speculation: Futures and Capitalism in India,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, vol. 35, no. 3, 2015, p. 387-391.

20 Howard Davis, The Culture of Building, New York, NY; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

21 Vladimir Kulić, Keynote lecture at the seminar “Belgrade Mass Housing Apartment and Far Beyond” held at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Belgrade on May 11, 2022.

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Konstantina Kalfa, Stavros Alifragkis et Panayotis Tournikiotis, « Introduction »ABE Journal [En ligne], 20 | 2022, mis en ligne le 31 octobre 2022, consulté le 23 juin 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Konstantina Kalfa

Adjunct Lecturer of Architectural History at the Department of Theory and History of Art, Athens School of Fine Arts Orcid ID: 0000-0003-1213-9037

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Stavros Alifragkis

Adjunct Lecturer of History of Art & Architecture, Studies in Greek Culture at the School of Humanities, Hellenic Open University Orcid ID: 0000-0001-7725-4891

Panayotis Tournikiotis

Professor of Architectural Theory and Director of the History and Theory Laboratory at the School of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens Orcid ID: 0000-0001-8659-2665

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