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Principal Investigator

Ana Vaz Milheiro


funding institution

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

Research Group

Middle Class Mass Housing in Europe, Africa and Asia





The goal of the project is to carry out a compared analysis of Middle Class Mass Housing (MCMH) in Europe, Africa and Asia, introducing new case studies to deepen the existing research, made with successfully tested methodologies: survey, catalogue and contextualization of housing complexes built between the 1950s and the 1980s in Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Angola and China. It is intended to identify the existing housing and urban models and to map the changes after 50 years of use in order to understand how they have adapted to current (urban and social) conditions, and to support future actions. The case studies are located in the peripheries of Milan, Antwerp, Lisbon, Luanda and Macao, in areas that they helped to consolidate, and were selected by: 1) scale; 2) number of inhabitants; 3) accessibility; 4) urban and architectural quality. Based on on-going national studies, a cross-reading that reflects the expansion of cities in the context of demographic growth after WWII is proposed. The impact of residential models developed by architects in European contexts will be analysed, and also their transposition to territories formerly under colonial rule. The studies that analyse the transcontinental housing panorama under an architectural and sociological perspective are confined to some regional cases, not assuring a more global vision that includes: 1) the historical description of the physical evolution of the dwelling, the building and the neighbourhood; 2) the survey and analysis of their inhabitants' profile. We want to assess the resilience of these complexes, including testing and proposing ways to prolong its life by updating the functional organization of the apartments, by renewing the infrastructures and building systems and by outlining the profile of its residents. Special attention will be given to the way of promotion (public or private) and its effect on the profile of the current inhabitants (pioneer, recent, immigrant). The neighbourhoods are characterized by high population density, building height (block and tower) and architectural expressions of modern affiliation. Unrelated to the built landscape by their unitary character, some complexes suggest the idea of 'ghettoisation'. Currently, they are in full use (although some are deteriorated). 

The team consists of Portuguese, Italian, Belgian, Macanese and Angolan researchers, architects, architectural historians and sociologists. External partners (Docomomo Angola, Belgium and Macao) ensure the fieldwork, assisted by 4 consultants. The goals will be achieved by: 1) Documentation and Archive; 2) Description and creation of inventory in GIS and HPIP; 3) Redrawing; 4) Analysis of the conservation state; 5 ) Observation of the urban situation and description of the profile evolution of current populations; 6) Questionnaires of occupation and social satisfaction (neighbourhood/dwelling); 7) Qualitative interviews to deep-rooted groups (social and cultural groups of belonging).


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