The European Large Scale Heritage





Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


Post-War Housing Complexes in Europe are symbols of architectural, technological and social aspirations. These grands ensembles of Mass Housing have nowadays begun to be appreciated by users and authorities, as integral part of the current city. Whether discussing demolition (as faced by the Smithsons' Robin Hood Gardens and Toulouse's Le Mirail, and commonly seen as a focus for social marginalization), or the growing phenomenon of heritagization (as implicit in the type of person now using the Marseille Unité d’Habitation), the debate today has mainly become centered on the question of: how to keep these large structures alive, while meeting contemporary standards of comfort? Characterized by adventurous experiments in the use of new materials and techniques, space creation and gender transformations, the obsolescence of these big complexes is determined on two different levels: the technical one (regarding comfort, such as thermal or acoustic, and the need for mechanical and safety improvements, as infrastructures, systems, elevators), and the functional one (involving space dimensions, organisation, orientation, and the introduction of new uses); all while complying with current regulatory standards. In addition, these buildings have frequently been intensively used and modified.

How to Cite

Tostões, A., & Ferreira, Z. (2016). The European Large Scale Heritage. Docomomo Journal, (54), 2–3.







Author Biographies

Ana Tostões, University of Lisbon

Ana Tostões PhD is an architect, architecture critic and historian, and is president of Docomomo International and Editor of the Docomomo Journal ( Her mandate in Docomomo International, since 2010, has been marked by the transformation of the organisation into a truly worldwide network and the Docomomo Journal into the only international periodical which regularly provides a critical look at the contemporary context focused on a broad vision of the Modern Movement Architecture and its reuse. She is a Full Professor at Técnico, University of Lisbon, where she teaches Theory of Architecture and Critical History, and coordinates the Architectonic Culture research group.

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).