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Contested Architecture: The ‘Woba’ Residential Colony in Basel, 1930

Rhea Rieben
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Rhea Rieben: Department of History, University of Basel, Switzerland

Urban Planning, 2019, vol. 4, issue 3, 212-222

Abstract: In 1930, a housing exhibition called ‘Woba’ took place in the city of Basel. Unique for Switzerland, the commercial aspect of the furniture industry was complemented by a newly constructed residential colony. In accordance with discussions held one year before at the II CIAM congress in Frankfurt a. M., the Wohnung für das Existenzminimum was brought to life. Thirteen architectural offices experimented with different spatial designs in order to develop cheap and hygienic housing for the working class. For one month, some of the houses were open to the public. In the Swiss press, a vivid and controversial debate arose. On one side, its supporters advocated for standardized and rationalized housing as an appropriate way of living for modern individuals. On the other side, conservative forces saw a communist scheme at work in this housing in the style of Neues Bauen. By analyzing contemporary press articles on the Woba, this paper shows that the question of society’s future was being negotiated through architecture and furniture.

Keywords: anti-communism; Baubolschewismus; Hans; Schmidt; minimal; housing; modern; society; Neues; Bauen; social; engineering; sociology; of; architecture; Typenmöbel; Woba (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Handle: RePEc:cog:urbpla:v:4:y:2019:i:3:p:212-222