Renewal of postwar housing architecture. Different approaches to the original tectonic ideal

Claus Bech-Danielsen


This paper assesses Danish postwar housing architecture in relation to the concept of everyday tectonics. It is argued that the extensive criticism of the architecture of the postwar housing developments is probably linked to their tectonic qualities, but that, to an even higher degree, it is also linked to the normative changes and altered perceptions of a good life which appeared after the buildings had been constructed. Three generations of renovation and redevelopment of the developments are described and analysed, and three different architectural strategies are mapped. The first two strategies spring from a critical approach to the original architecture of the industrialised construction. The two strategies seek to break away from this architecture by altering the original buildings: either by changing their style or changing their tectonics. The third strategy neither breaks with the style nor with the tectonics of the buildings. Rather it insists on seeking out the potentials in the original architecture, which are supplemented by basic architectural qualities, for example daylight, a view, and user improvements. The results of the three strategies are discussed, however without leading to any conclusion as to which strategy gives the best results. Nevertheless, the paper does conclude that recent years have seen fine results from the third strategy, and that reusing the existing architecture can be of special significance in the suburbs.

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