10/07/1947 - 15/08/1947
Urbanism and Housing
International Exhibition on Urbanism and Housing
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Paris was host to the International Exhibition on Urbanism and Housing, organised to manage the difficulties of post-war reconstruction and the subsequent housing challenges. Initially scheduled to be held in 1945, the Expo was postponed and then cancelled in 1946. Recognised by the 17th General Assembly of the BIE on 11 June 1946, the Expo was finally being held between 10 July and 15 August 1947 in the majestic Grand Palais.
Fourteen countries participated in the Expo, including Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden and Czechoslovakia. The Soviet Union and the United Kingdom did not take part, nor did the United States, despite its participation at a preliminary exhibition organised a year earlier.
Organised under the authority of Paul Breton, the International Exhibition of Urbanism and Housing was based around five sub-themes: the national housing problem, urbanism, homes, the construction and fitting of housing units, and information.
Architect André Herman designed the overall layout of the exhibition in the Grand Palais, where each national section showcased architectural projects and indoor fittings. These sections included housing clusters and furnished accommodation, with the notable introduction of mass-produced furniture. In the gardens, French firms showcased prefabricated buildings and homes.
The Expo presented a general picture of the challenges of urbanism and housing in the context of post-war reconstruction, modernism and mass production.
The French pavilion showcased innovative solutions to housing challenges, including prototypes of the “Immeubles d’Etat”, state-owned housing blocks that were being developed at the time in several French cities. Housing solutions designed by leading architects of the time were also showcased, including Le Corbusiers’s Unité d’Habitation in Marseille, housing plans for Le Havre designed by Auguste Perret and furnished by René Gabriel, Pierre Sorel’s apartments in Boulogne-sur-Mer, fitted by Jacques Dumond, Pingusson’s prefabricated housing units, and Marcel Lods’ housing units for Sotteville-Lès-Rouen, furnished by Marcel Gascoin.
Sweden exhibited Sven Ivar Lind’s prefabricated wooden houses, which received much attention for their high-quality, stylish and comfortable furnishings. The exhibit introduced the public to ongoing housing developments in Sweden and the latest Swedish approach to homebuilding.
The Belgian section featured a recreation of a five-room apartment designed by Louis Herman De Koninck, while Italy, Poland, Greece and Czechoslovakia each presented studies on their housing challenges as well as potential solutions to these problems.
The solutions demonstrated by international participants allowed architects and urban planners to take a critical look at their studies and experience, and to unleash innovative approaches to be applied in the future. In this way, Expo 1947 Paris was a vivid illustration of the exchanges made at the 1928 International Congress on Modern Architecture, promoting functional architecture and urban planning.