At Home in Postwar France
Modern Mass Housing and the Right to Comfort
Berghahn Books 2015
New Books in ArchitectureNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books Network May 17, 2016 Roxanne Panchasi
Nicole Rudolph‘s At Home in Postwar France: Modern Mass Housing and the Right to Comfort (Berghahn Books, 2015) contributes to a growing body of scholarship on the three decades after 1945 known as the Trente glorieuses. Rudolph’s emphasis is on French designs and experiences of dwelling, and the interior spaces of French homes in particular. The book argues that housing was essential to the modernizing project that French society engaged in during these years, a vital site of reconstruction in the wake of the Second World War, and a key locus of nation-building and democratization. In this period, the French state actively pursued policies that sought to guarantee its citizens the right to safe, hygienic, and comfortable homes that would nurture individual happiness while helping to strengthen families as the building blocks of a thriving society.
From the creation of a Ministry of Reconstruction and Urbanism in 1945, to the housing crisis of 1953, to the yearly Salon des arts menagers promoting new household methods and technologies, to the oil crisis of the early 1970s, At Home in Postwar France examines the class, gender, and design ideals and tensions of a France in the throes of major transformations on multiple fronts. Pursuing the diffusion, mediation, and reception of the new housing forms that developed in the period, the book considers the contributions of state officials, architects and designers, and proponents of domestic economy and organization in France. It also examines the reactions of the residents and social commentators who felt and evaluated the impact of these forms. At Home in Postwar France explores a range of hopes and dreams for modern French living spaces, thinking through a variety of new approaches to housing on a mass scale. Taking on the complicated relationship between home and citizenship in postwar France, the book offers readers new perspective on how French women and men dwelt and thought about dwelling during this critical period in the nations history.