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Dwelling and Domesticity (1899)

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It is characteristic of the clustering of people in such dwellings that only a small number of residents have a bed of their own. For example, an investigation into overpopulated dwellings in Breslau (overpopulated in the statistical sense) in 1896 revealed that the population in them shared beds as follows:

other persons
number of residents

This and other conditions result from the transformation of central sections of cities with growing populations into a pure market. Under these influences, the mobile and wealthy population pushes toward the periphery, which is still spaciously built on from earlier eras, with garden houses and villas. Soon, houses stand side by side here as well; the gardens still survive behind the houses, and there is still light, air, room. But the exodus from the center increases, the belt surrounding the periphery holds firm or yields only in a few places. The peripheral zones still contain only residential houses, but side and rear buildings, "private streets" and "garden houses" begin to fill in the courtyard spaces behind the street frontage and the old gardens; many an old noble palace, many an old patrician summer house gives up its expansive hinterland to the blandishments of the speculators. The insides of the houses now have parquet floors, stuccoed ceilings, majolica stoves, runners on the stairs, splendid things for the better-off retail merchants who have escaped the old center! But the spacious rooms of old are broken up by dividing walls, every spare space is turned into a "room," and only one quiet chamber retains its old rights, while the maid's room, the storage room, the wardrobe room [Schrankzimmer], the pantry, the spare closet [Reserveverschlag], the ironing room, and the bathroom [Badekabinet] are transformed into splendid salons and boudoirs with a little stucco and wallpaper. A rudely colorful luxury of repulsive decorations, far below the quality of the wallpaper, grins at the residents of the "grand" apartments of 7 "rooms" for 2,000 or 3,000 marks, light and air is taken away by the sky-high stone wall on the other side, the side-building in the courtyard. Following this lovely pattern of mis-decorated and mutilated old houses, four and five-story boxes, disfigured with ridiculous plaster ornaments, spring up all over the neighborhood, wherever a piece of garden is still open. Everything that makes a dwelling comfortable has been happily driven out; the "fine" modern house proudly faces the astonished century with a high rear house [Hinterhaus], high rents, and haughty "vice-landlords" [Vicewirten]. No trace of any kind of use of modern, technological aids; after all, the new house is, technologically and in the distribution of space, merely the copy of the old house that has been thoroughly spoiled; the only modern thing about all these rows of streets, which are now also pushing into the countryside here and there like canyons, is merely the ruthless exploitation of the air monopoly accorded to the landlord without objection. For the uninterrupted construction of buildings along a road and the usurious use of space within a house amounts in fact to the exploitation of an unlimited monopoly of the air. Is it still air that the resident of a "grand" dwelling on the third floor sees wafting through the windows from the street, that rises up from all the lower levels through the flooring, that threatens to suffocate him when he looks down from a back window into the narrow courtyard shaft in which his children are working?

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