Presented by Giulia Guzzini
The challenges facing the contemporary city today are inescapable — the population of urban centres continues to grow, land is increasingly valuable and lifestyles are undergoing rapid change. These pressures are reflected on their inhabitants, who are squeezed into smaller and smaller houses, where the private, social and family sphere all come together, and in the age of working from a distance, also work. As cities become gradually denser, apartments become compact, requiring inventive solutions to enable the various activities we carry out to coexist, as well as grow alongside one another. These challenges are nothing new. In the 1920s and 30s, new housing developments were required to meet the needs of rapidlyexpanding populations in cities across Europe and much of the world. Among the modernist architects seeking solutions to the challenge of compact living in the early 1920s was Alvar Aalto, who in 1930 organised an exhibition in Helsinki titled MinimumApartmentExhibition which presented a small, liveable and flexible unit — a prototype for standard accommodation that offered its occupants light, comfort and privacy. Today, design returns to reflect on the theme of living by seeking compact and flexible solutions.