Social housing is often associated with poverty and esthetics is not the primary concern of its design. We live in a world where refined esthetics are used as a signifier of upper social status. Social systems defined as meritocratic usually manage esthetics in terms of costs in favor of those deemed worthy of. Put differently, complex architectural styles are rarely encountered in the case of social housing projects. But there are a couple of surprises coming from a couple of European countries where the public sector is quite strong and income inequality is rather low. Check out these 10 impressive social housing projects!
1. Hundertwasserhaus, Vienna, Austria
A masterpiece of the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928 – 2000). In fact, the artist admitted that he is not educated as an architect and requested the help of a professional when the City Hall commissioned him this project. Josef Krawina was finally acknowledged as co-creator in 2001. Hundertwasserhaus seems a museum piece, but around 200 people live in the surreal manifest against order and sobriety erected between 1983 and 1985.
2. 120 Social Housing in Parla, Madrid, Spain
That is the exact number of apartments made available for young people by Madrid’s municipality. The minimalistic buildings are not located in the center of the city, but somewhere in a suburb called Parla. Bear in mind that the large team of architects behind these white soothing buildings drew a project to fit the exact budget.
3. Honeycomb Apartments, Izola, Slovenia
Not only that these two magnificent futuristic buildings are incredibly attractive, but they were really cheap as well. The Slovenian Social Fund wanted the project to cost no more than 600 Euros per square meter. Even if the apartments are relatively small, there are not structural elements inside of them, giving the inhabitants the opportunity to arrange the rooms according to their needs.
4. Savonnerrie Heymans, Brussels, Belgium
The building complex was erected on the place where a soap factory used to function. The most exciting characteristic is its vast diversity. A social housing complex with just 42 accommodations, but few of them are similar. The ‘village’ placed in the center of Brussles contains lofts, studios, 1-6 room apartments and duplexes.
5. Torre Placa Europa, Barcelona, Spain
Torre Placa Europa is a 2005 building that looks exactly like a Lego piece. It consists of 75 apartments and of course it actually a first prize in architecture. Not very relevant which one, but judging by its looks, it could be the most minimalist Lego building ever created.
6. Les Nids, Paris, France
This 2010 piece looks like a block of little moveable boxes you can play with, but t is actually a nice social housing project from Paris, France. What makes this project a good one is that although is for social housing, each of the apartments are individualized. At the same time, the neighborhood concept is very well developed, with small green spaces to collectively enjoy the life outdoors.
7. L’Astrolarbre, Paris, France
Located in France, this building has a sort of wooden minimalist industrial design. It looks like a pretentious elite housing than housing for the poor. We enjoyed the natural look. It also reminded us about that Jenga game we enjoy.
8. Tetris Apartments, Ljubljana, Slovenia
These apartments are located in Ljubljana and they look like their name suggest, like a Tetris. Build in 2006-2007, their modern look reminds us more of an office building. It is larger than the previous ones, with 650 apartments included, which means more housing for the poor.
9. Elmas Social Housing, Elmas, Italy
The small town lies on the beautiful Italian island Sardinia. The white building painted with mustard windows plays with your eyes in a calm peaceful manner. The rather small social housing project is a ray of light, but at the same time it fully serves its utilitarian purpose.
10. Hatert Housing, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
The bizarrely attractive Dutch social housing project finished in 2011 is now the crown of Hatert. The weird asymmetrically floating balconies give ‘the White Rose’ its attractive aspect. Moreover, the balconies seem quite large and welcoming!