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The Social Democratic Party’s Housing Construction Program for the Western Occupation Zones (May/June, 1949)

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4. How must we build?

Size of the apartments

According to the outcome of the 1946 census, we must reckon in most cases with three to four persons per housing unit (family). This number was slightly higher in small cities than large ones, and it is growing steadily in communities with a predominantly farming population. For this number of persons, a living space of 45 square meters on average has been put forth as the necessary minimum apartment size. This size will form the basis of all further considerations. Qualitatively, these apartments are to be first rate; at the same time, the factor of cost effectiveness – which, in the final analysis, is expressed in the rent – must be taken into account.

The large group that consists of the very smallest households will require a considerable number of apartments of even smaller dimensions – self-sufficient one-room apartments with a cooking niche and built-in cupboards, residential home apartments. The elderly, single women, mothers with one child, and young couples are just as entitled to their own apartment as entire families. Today, they take up family-sized living space or are condemned to a hopeless existence as sub-letters.

Housing type and building method

Standardization and typification will play an important role in the implementation of this program. However, at this point it must be stated clearly that only individual building elements (and not apartments and houses themselves) will be standardized by type. The phrase “social housing construction” is all too often associated with uniform apartment blocks. Construction should be simple and purposeful, but not uniform. Architectural design will continue to remain in the hands of architects. It will accommodate the landscape and the traditions of the land or the city.

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7. Financing

a) The task

What can be produced can also be financed

Crucial to assessing the financing possibilities of “Plan A” is an examination of the question of whether the sources of material aid and the workers are available. Housing is not built with money, but with workers, raw materials, and manufacturing enterprises. If the production possibilities are not there, then the best financing skills are useless. But if the production possibilities are affirmed, then concrete financing is merely an organizational-technical matter. What can be produced can also be financed. When we say that financing is “merely” a technical matter, we do not in any way mean to diminish the importance of the problem. One should not fail to recognize that here, too, seeing that the effects of the war and the postwar period and the currency reform have shrunken savings as well as business and capital reserves, we have to solve difficult problems, problems that could conjure up the danger of inflation if they are not handled in a skillful and thoughtful way. However, what is most decisive is whether and to what extent untapped labor and business reserves are available within the economy. As long as an unutilized potential of forces is available – and in the construction sector this potential is available today on a large scale in the form of untapped labor and business capacities – the procurement of funds can be a question of “how” and ”how much,” but never a question as to “whether” they should be spent.

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