This lecture explores the global history of mass housing in the twentieth century. From war-damaged Europe to suburban California and from apartheid Johannesburg to high-rise Singapore, the lecture surveys the major types of housing that have accommodated the world’s unprecedented population growth and in doing so, have shaped the vast expansion of our urbanized world. It focuses not only on the ideas of architects and planners and the schemes of developers, but also the complex involvement of inhabitants, home-buyers, governments and various experts. Histories of housing have by and large remained the purview of nationally-bounded policy-oriented study. This lecture emphasizes the ways in which configurations of state and market have shaped housing types and forms transnationally. Drawing from the history of architecture and urbanism as well as social and political histories of urbanization and development, it pays particular attention to the ways in which housing became a product and an engine of our increasingly global political economy. By looking at how new kinds of housing and new ways of dwelling emerge and transform as they travel across regions and nations, the lecture problematizes oppositions between global North and global South, and between authored architecture and vernacular building.
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