Large social housing estates in Milan and Barcelona: dealing with decaying modernity

Authors: Petros PETSIMERIS*, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, UMR 8504 CNRS Géographie-cités, Jose Ignacio Villa Vazquez, LabEx DynamiTe, UMR 8504 CNRS Géographie-cités
Topics: Social Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Europe
Keywords: large housing estates, Barcelona, Milan, periphery, modernity, decay, migration, social housing, Italy, Spain.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Maryland B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper analyses the case of large social housing estates in two southern European economic metropolises - Milan and Barcelona - since the 1960s. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, including interviews with stakeholders producing space and inhabitants, we analyse changes in these estates’ material and social spaces through periods of genesis, decay and tentative refurbishment. This analysis is conducted at the domestic scale through to the metropolitan scale. We start by outlining the temporal and spatial contexts of the production of modernist social housing in the two cities during the 1960s and early 1970s. These estates initially housed domestic economic migrants attracted to Milan and Barcelona, or rehoused people from the shanty towns (barracas in Barcelona).We then go on to analyse changes in their material and social space over the four decades that cover the transition period from Fordism to post-Fordism. This analysis addresses: physical decay, repositioning in terms of centrality and marginality, succession in terms of social class and ethnicity, and accessibility. The last part addresses planning and renewal policies, the requalification of public spaces, and policies aimed at improving the housing and micro-urban conditions of four paradigmatic housing estates (Gallaratese and Gratosoglio in Milan, and Canyelles and La Mina in Barcelona). We propose an initial evaluation of the effectiveness of these multi-level transformation programmes (urban, regional, national and European).

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