Paul Klee, Revolving House, 1921.
The right to comfort in the century of the self





Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing, Post-war housing, Welfare architecture, Mass housing, Modern comfort


After the war, the world was divided between two main powers, a Western capitalist bloc led by the USA, and an Eastern communist bloc, driven by the USSR. From Japan to Mexico, the post-war years were ones of prosperous economic growth and profound social transformation. It was the time of re-housing families split apart and of rebuilding destroyed cities, but it was also the time of democratic rebirth, the definition of individual and collective freedoms and rights, and of belief in the open society envisaged by Karl Popper. Simultaneously, it was the time of the biggest migrations from the countryside, revealing a large faith in the city, and of baby booms, revealing a new hope in humanity. (...) Whether through welfare state systems, as mainly evidenced in Western Europe, under the prospects launched by the Plan Marshall (1947), or through the establishment of local housing authorities funded or semi-funded by the government, or through the support of private companies, civil organizations or associations, the time had come for the large-scale application of the principles of modern architecture and engineering developed before the war. From the Spanish polígonos residenciales to the German großsiedlungen, ambitious housing programs were established in order to improve the citizens’ living conditions and health standards, as an answer to the housing shortage, and as a symbol of a new egalitarian society: comfort would no longer only be found in bourgeois houses.

How to Cite

Ferreira, Z. (2021). The right to comfort in the century of the self. Docomomo Journal, (65), 4–7.







Author Biography

Zara Ferreira, University of Lisbon

(Portugal, 1988). Architect, MSc in Architecture (2012, Técnico – University of Lisbon, thesis: The modern and the climate in the Lusophone Africa. School buildings in Mozambique: the Fernando Mesquita concept (1955–1975)). She was the secretary general of docomomo International and co-editor of docomomo Journal (2014-2018). She is currently undertaking a PhD focused on post-WWII European housing estates (Técnico – University of Lisbon), with the support of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (SFRH/Bd/115196/2016).