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Keynote sessions

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17jun 9h00 [plenary session I]

Dana Vais | Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Optimistic and Socially Efficient. Large Housing Estates in 1960s Cluj, Romania

The lecture addresses the topic of large mass housing estates in Romania during the 1960s and their contribution to a certain sense of social optimism that characterized the period. When socialist housing is discussed in the context of  the "European Middle Class Mass Housing", the question arises as to what could be considered "middle class" in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe and what specific kind of housing it relates to. Post-war large housing complexes built in Southern Europe could be clearly related to the rise of the middle class and have contributed to the definition of its lifestyle. Nevertheless, translating the notion into the context of the so-called "classless" societies is in no way natural. And yet social optimism was a feeling shared throughout the otherwise divided Europe. In Eastern Europe too, and particularly in a predominantly rural country like Romania, post-war urbanization – which relied massively on the emergence of large housing estates – brought about undeniable social progress. There was a strong sense of upward social mobility that was embodied by the modernistic, clean, luminous and generously green socialist housing ensembles of the 1960s. In time, diversification and privatization created subtle social hierarchies. However, as "class" distinctions were forbidden, the "middle" was overwhelmingly produced. Architects searched for "statistic variety". Sociologists involved in housing typification defined generic "social types". The capability to produce the classless socialist lifestyle was scientifically defined as the "social efficiency" of housing estates. The lecture presents the interplay between the architectural discourse of the large housing estates and their actual social effects. The discussion is detailed and illustrated by two cases of large housing estates of the 1960s, Grigorescu and Gheorgheni, in the city of Cluj, Romania.

Dana Vais, PhD, is professor of architecture at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. She earned both her architecture degree (1989) and her PhD (2000) at the University of Architecture and Urbanism ‘Ion Mincu’ in Bucharest, Romania. Her habilitation thesis (2013) addressed the subject of Spatial Margins. Her courses include History of 20th Century Architecture and Theory of Habitation. Her research interests relate to architecture in the socialist period, housing history and theory, contemporary urban margins and peripheries. She was a fellow of the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem (2019-2020) and is a member of the research group "Re-theorizing Housing as Architecture".


18jun 9h00 [plenary session II]

Paolo Boccagni | Università di Trento

Unpacking home as a sociological question: back (to the house), forward (to the metaphor) and in-between

My presentation takes stock of the sociological debate on the meanings, functions and implications of home, borrowing also from an ongoing research project on the experience of home under circumstances of cross-border mobility (ERC HOMInG). Much recent literature on home has gone back to the role of housing infrastructures, affordances and material cultures, or forward to reveal that home, whatever it means, operates also as a powerful and elusive social metaphor. In-between lies the sociological significance of home as a relational attempt to make some place ‘special’ and ‘own’, relative to the rest. This is an endeavour that conflates ‘positive’ emotions such as security, intimacy and comfort with a more problematic subtext of control, exclusion and subordination. Home as a tentative form of space appropriation has its own ambiguities, and even ambivalence, as much critical literature has already emphasized. However, the relational foundations of this attempt – whether it primarily involves places, significant others, or past- or future-related imaginaries – deserve further elaboration. I aim to advance it, in this presentation, by interrogating the interdisciplinary literature on the ‘doing’, ‘making’ and ‘scaling’ of home in the light of my research findings.

Paolo Boccagni is Professor in Sociology (University of Trento) and Principal investigator of ERC StG HOMInG. He has published in the sociology of migration, home, diversity and social welfare. He is currently doing comparative research on the lived experience of home, with a particular focus on asylum seekers in reception facilities. Recent books include Migration and the Search for Home (2017) and Thinking home on the move (co‐authored, 2020).


18jun 18h30 [closing session]

Uta Pottgiesser | TU Delft

Modern Residential Heritage. The Legacy of 20th Century

The 20th century has rapidly changed life around the world and initiated an unprecedented urbanization that continues unrestricted today in the 21st century. Throughout the world, urban growth was fueled by migrations, both within and between nations or regions and in particular between rural sides and cities. While this development started in the Global North, the second half of 20th century was increasingly influenced by international trade and technological developments that further stimulated urbanization, in particular in South America, Asia and Africa - the Global South. Around 1950 more than half of the 17 large cities with a population of more than one million were in Europe. By 2000, the number had grown to 387, with more than half in Asia and for 2100 the majority is expected in Africa. Across the globe cities grew rapidly and became megacities. As a result, cities worldwide increased in size, population, and density and created new forms of urban living: densification and suburbanization, which is also characterized by separating the functions of living, working, shopping and leisure. Automotive dominated mobility, urban mass transportation, infrastructures and utilities and large housing estates evolved as new typologies in architecture and the built environment. As modern heritage they represent the legacy of the 20th century. With regard to the scarce planetary resources and to safeguarding the quality of life, the planning and design approaches to this modern heritage will become a key factor and guarantee for economic, ecological and social stability in the cities and remains a challenge for politicians, designers and the people themselves. Global strategies in combination with regional and local approaches will be needed to value, preserve, densify and re-use this built heritage. in order to enable urban surfaces and spaces to being harnessed in new ways, contributing to new forms of living and working, daily food needs, energy supply or to improving the microclimate of cities.

Uta Pottgiesser, Professor of Building Construction and Materials at Detmold School of Architecture and Interior Architecture (Germany) at OWL, University of Applied Sciences and Arts (TH OWL) since 2004 and Chair of Heritage & Technology at TU Delft (Netherlands) since 2018. From 2017-2019 she was appointed Professor of Interior Architecture at Faculty of Design Sciences of the University of Antwerp (Belgium). She holds a Diploma in Architecture from TU Berlin and obtains her PhD (Dr.-Ing.) from TU Dresden, both in Germany. As a licensed architect and academic she has more than 30 years of experience is concerned with the protection, reuse and conservation of the built heritage and environment. She is a co-founder of the European Facade Network (efn) and Chair of the DOCOMOMO International Specialist Committee on Technology (ISC/T). She researches, teaches and lectures internationally and continues to be a reviewer and (co-) author for international journals and of publications with a focus on construction and heritage topics. In 2012 she was a Visiting Researcher at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), Los Angeles (USA) and as of 2022, she will take over as Chair of Docomomo International.

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