GIEDION GOES TO STOCKHOLM. A look at Swedish efforts in the social and housing question

The journeys throughout Europe for attesting the state of contemporary architecture brought the great passionate promoter of the Modern Movement, Sigfried Giedion, also to Stockholm. One month after the opening of the 1930 Stockholm exhibition, generally considered as the precise event from which new functionalist architecture become manifest, the Swiss historian came in contact with the Swedish efforts in the social and housing question. This was the result of the future-oriented program of the exhibition of which Giedion was updated by Swedish delegation since the late 1928. Housing prototypes produced for the sake of the event and few first housing interventions built in Stockholm, responded to new standards, techniques and expressive language. All of this positioned Sweden to equal the results achieved by other countries in the forefront like Germany, Netherlands, France and Russia, which had previously faced the same problems. The participation of the Swedish delegation for the first time – namely Sven Markelius and Gunnar Sundbärg – to the II CIAM in Frankfurt (1929) had contributed in this regard as well. The goal of the present contribution is to examine in detail two extensive accounts of Giedion (Stein Holz Eisen, July 1930 and Cahiers d'Art – re-print in Bauwelt, September 1930), particularly focusing on how Swedes tackled the housing issue. His look shed the light on three key figures, namely Sven Markelius, Eskil Sundhal and Sven Wallander, that are recognised as those who, at first, attempted to address the discussion on the ‘minimum dwelling’. No doubts that Giedion contributed to include Sweden in his heterodox portray of modern architecture, via capsizing the initial viewpoint of a country at the fringe of the uropean animated debate. His comments literally paved the way for spreading Swedish interventions with regard to housing across many journals and publications even outside the national borders. A particular attention goes also to the analysis of the features of three housing projects he presented in the papers in order to contextualize and compare them to a larger extent.

Presented at:
9th AISU "The global city" within the D2 panel "News from nordic countries or an epoch of action", Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna | Dipartimento di Architettura, 11st -14th September
Sep 12 2019

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