Open Access

Socialist in content, national in form: Small-scale housing estates in Budapest between 1945 and 1960

   | Jun 20, 2024


In the second half of the 20th century, solving the housing crisis became a significant social issue and political task throughout Europe, particularly in the countries of the Eastern Bloc. Although due to its quantity, prefabricated large mass housing estates became overrepresented, dozens of smaller, experimental, and diverse mass housing forms also emerged. It is hypothesized, that these small housing estates, due to their scale and quality, are urban planning projects that were realized across political, economic, and architectural changes. To demonstrate their adaptability, this paper presents the small housing estates built in one of the capitals of the Eastern Bloc countries—Budapest—during the most turbulent one-and-a-half decades of the socialist era (1945–1960). The research consists of three main parts: (1) Hungarian politics and housing policy, (2) Budapest's urban policy, and (3) a brief presentation of the urban planning and architectural aspects of Budapest's small housing estates. The result of the research is the creation of a complete small housing estates portfolio, illustrated archive articles, archival plans, and photographs. It becomes evident that although the times from World War II to the consolidation of power saw vastly different political eras, directives, and ideals realized, along with various architectural styles and housing policies, the small housing estate as an urban planning product was able to adapt and survive. Moreover, it is a valuable architectural, housing, and urban planning imprint of the era, the only mass housing form realized in numerous examples in Budapest.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Architecture and Design, Architecture, Architects, Buildings, Landscape Architecture, Landscape Architects, Design, Designers, other