New technologies in housing construction: a path towards a new city?


João Cardim


This session aims to provide a broader view of the technological changes that enabled or characterized the construction of large housing estates for the middle-class during the second half of the 20th century, both within the architects’ or engineers’ office context, as well as in the construction site or in the decision-making institutions.

Keeping in mind the ideological changes that paved the way for the promotion and viability of the large housing estate as a component of the city, we are interested in papers that deal with the relationship between large housing estates for the middle-class and the following subjects: normalization and standardization of the design process; modular design and modular coordination of building components; standardization of building elements and construction systems (including heavy or light prefabrication, innovative building techniques, new and improved materials, etc.); and others relevant to the discussion.

It is also important to understand the impact of these new systems in the different individuals (the architect, the engineer, the building company, the workers, the dweller, the politician) and institutions (city halls, unions, corporative groups, residents’ associations, professional organizations), as well as the (often troubled) relationship between the various city-making agents.

The objective of this session is to understand how technological advances and design processes shaped the architecture and the urban form of the new, almost always peripheral, city. The preferred (but not exclusive) time-frame is from the end of WWII until the 1980s, a period when large housing estates were a symbol, frequently permeated by utopian sentiments, of progress towards a new city. Case-studies of a variety of territorial contexts are welcome, as well as comparative studies.

Short bio

João Cardim 

(Master in Architecture, ISCTE-IUL, 2011) 

Has received a PhD Scholarship in 2017 (thesis project: From the Housing Unit to the City: modular project and urban planning in the work of Justino Morais 1966-1975). He has collaborated in various research projects on housing for the middle-class, has presented his work in several conferences on architecture and urbanism in Portugal, Italy, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Israel, and has articles published in books, reviews, seminar proceedings and arts and culture newspapers.