Charged Amalgamations of Mass-Produced Housing, Architecture, and Great War Technologies, 1916 to 1926
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CitationSantiago, Etien. 2021. Charged Amalgamations of Mass-Produced Housing, Architecture, and Great War Technologies, 1916 to 1926. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractThe concept of mass-produced housing occupies a prominent position in the modern architectural discipline. For many decades, architects have persistently attempted to devise residential designs that can be quickly and cheaply manufactured on a large scale. Architectural historians have meanwhile frequently studied such designs. Yet existing scholarship has so far overlooked a key chapter in the architectural quest for mass-produced houses. With an emphasis on the French context, this dissertation uncovers how the Great War of 1914 to 1918 shaped architects’ pursuit of mass-produced housing while elevating this pursuit into a centerpiece of their discipline.
From about 1916 to 1926, the repercussions of the Great War forced architects all over the world to rethink the junction of housing design and building technologies. Faced with a surge of efficient military engineering and rapid construction exploits, the proliferation of demountable huts addressing emergency wartime needs, and the widespread destruction of towns along the front lines, architects in various nations turned their attention to residences that could be reproduced serially. War-aggravated shortages of affordable housing, building materials, and manpower stimulated designers to think creatively. To surmount these challenges, some architects seized upon technical inventions that had been developed as part of the race to wage an all-out war of attrition.
France around the time of the Great War constituted a particularly active locus of architectural proposals for serial housing. It became such a locus because it harbored a potent cocktail of skyrocketing wartime industrialization, a dauntingly mammoth reconstruction process, and frequent exchanges between men of different nationalities. By repeatedly seeking to participate in rebuilding French regions ravaged by fighting, Germans and Americans contributed to transforming France into a crucible of architectural ideas about mass-produced housing. The accompanying geopolitical tensions, as well as internal French politics and ethical dilemmas concerning the military toll of new technologies, influenced how architects and non- architects of that time conceptualized mass-produced housing. Analyses in this dissertation reveal that a share of architects’ present-day assumptions about mass-produced housing are actually ingrained vestiges of the Great War, which profoundly altered the architectural discipline in the same way that it profoundly altered world history.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37369483
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