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‘Minimum dwelling’ all'italiana: from the case popolari to the 1929 ‘model houses’ of Garbatella




At the twelfth congress of the International Federation of Housing and Town Planning (IFHTP), held in Rome in September 1929, a set of thirteen “model” affordable houses situated in the garden suburb of Garbatella were presented to the delegates. While generally recognized as shining fragments from a distinctly “Roman” register of idiosyncratic architectural modernism, the dwellings of Garbatella’s Lot XXIV also deserve to be reappraised as a key symbolic moment in the history of interwar Italian architecture and urban planning—and as an alternative vision for a scalable model of modern “minimum dwelling” (Existenzminimum). I analyze the project in the context of the 1929 IFHTP congress in Rome as a carefully staged attempt to juxtapose an alternative, “third way” vision of architectural design for urban social housing that sought to accommodate the emerging international modernist canon of functionality with individual architectural design and respect for regional building traditions.


Kallis. (2020). ‘Minimum dwelling’ all'italiana: from the case popolari to the 1929 ‘model houses’ of Garbatella. Journal of Urban History, 603-621.

Acceptance Date Nov 7, 2018
Publication Date May 1, 2020
Journal Journal of Urban History
Print ISSN 0096-1442
Publisher SAGE Publications
Pages 603-621
Keywords mass housing, Rome, minimum dwelling, Existenzminimum, IFHTP, CIAM, Garbatella, modernism, functionalism.
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