Canned Adaptopias

written by Mira Stanić

The <i>limenke</i> in Zapruđe today, system of industrial prefabrication YU-61, co-authors: Bogdan Budimirov, Željko Solar, Dragutin Stilinović, 1961

A significant part of today’s housing stock in Europe, the flickering grey matter that forms the background of all activity in the cities, dates back to the post-war politically advanced mass housing programs (implemented either by the welfare or the socialist state), and was built in the 1960s and 1970s in the echoes of Modernist utopian visions. Despite the parallel tendencies of opening up of the discipline of preservation and the shift of architecture towards the already existent as the building material (since the 80s when Bernardo Secchi and Vittorio Gregotti through pages of Casabella indicated that the future of architecture lies in the modification of what is already there, to Koolhaas’ Chronochaos), these housing developments are today most commonly found between two extremes – they either get enlisted as cultural heritage or demolished, replaced by a completely new historical, and necessarily also social, layer. The latter fate, after unsuccessful petitioning as well as lobbying by world-renowned architects and institutions, but without significant action from the tenants themselves, is, for exampley awaiting the Robin Hood Gardens, a classic of Brutalist architecture designed by Alison and Peter Smithson.