DOCOMOMO International Mass Housing Archive

Data Steward Gina Geffers has built on work commenced by Pauline Ward and Prof Miles Glendinning of ECA to make a complex dataset of thousands of beautiful detailed photographs of social housing taken by Prof Glendinning available on DataShare under open licence.

Gina created collections on DataShare for dozens of countries, with deposits representing hundreds of cities. Prof Glendinning has photographed tower blocks from Accra to Shanghai to the Bronx to Berlin, around the world in architectural research. This archive reflects Prof Glendinning’s career-long focus on social housing.

DOCOMOMO International Mass Housing Archive

The provision of healthy modern housing for all was one of the foremost ideals of the Modern Movement, and inspired a vast wave of planning and building across the world during the 20th century. In the last quarter of the century, even as the foundational programmes of Europe and America lost their impetus, the baton was passed on to other countries, especially in eastern Asia, where the narrative of Modern mass housing was reinvigorated for the next century – a unique example of a key Modernist project that actually continues and thrives today, and which thus forms a principal focus of interest for DOCOMOMO – the leading international organisation promoting the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement.

Building in Kiev, Ukraine

Khreshchatyk 3 – Building in Kiev, Ukraine, Kyiv Pt.1 Collection, CC BY 4.0

As heritage, the built legacies of this diverse and multi-generational adventure are almost always too controversial to qualify for conservation strategies. Instead, therefore, recording and inventorisation must dominate the heritage interest in this field. In the recognition of that fact, DOCOMOMO’s International Specialist Committee on Urbanism and Landscape, in partnership with the Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies at the University of Edinburgh, has launched the International Mass Housing Archive, whose aim is to provide an openly-licensed library of images of significant housing projects in each working-group territory, free of copyright restrictions.

The International Mass Housing Archive is subdivided under geographical headings corresponding to the constituent working groups of DOCOMOMO, and the individual housing projects are searchable under city and project name. Initially, the Image Archive will be managed and augmented centrally by DOCOMOMO and the SCCS, in partnership with University of Edinburgh Information Services, commencing with pilot city surveys sourced from our own photographic records in the first instance.

All images in the archive are available for download under an open licence: DOCOMOMO International Mass Housing Archive (ed.ac.uk).