Between Rationalization and Political Project: The Existenzminimum from Klein and Teige to Today

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

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Between Rationalization and Political Project: The Existenzminimum from Klein and Teige to Today

  • Marson Korbi Department ICAR, Polytechnic of Bari, Italy
  • Andrea Migotto Faculty of Architecture, KU Leuven, Belgium

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Abstract:  A critical reflection on the II CIAM (Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne; in Frankfurt, 1929) should not limit itself to a purely historiographic reconstruction. The article discusses the II CIAM reflection on the Wohnung für das Existenzminimum (dwelling for the minimum level of existence) by means of a comparison between the official positions of participants and those of two architects, Alexander Klein and Karel Teige, who gravitated around the Frankfurt and Brussels meetings. The confrontation will unlock a double scenario. On the one hand, it will depict a multifaceted and more precise account of the discussion developed in the late 1920s on the minimum dwelling, integrating CIAM discussions with alternative theories and methods developed to face housing shortage and degraded living conditions. Investigating the impact of socio-economic conditions on household forms of life, Klein and Teige presented two paradigmatic and autonomous approaches that tackled the traditional solutions of architecture for the Existenzminimum. On the other hand, we argue that a broadened revision of the themes discussed at the end of the 1920s, namely the transformation of household compositions, the criticism of the paradigms of liberal urban development, the relation between production and forms of life as well as the position of the architect in housing production, proves to be useful for the understanding and overcoming of the fragmentation that still nowadays characterizes the reflection on domestic space.

Keywords:  Alexander Klein; CIAM; collective dwelling; domestic space; housing crisis; Karel Teige; minimum dwelling; rationalization; Taylorism; universal dwelling


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© Marson Korbi, Andrea Migotto. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.