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By : Harald N. Røstvik

The world population just passed 7 billion. Fear of growth towards 35 billion, if the “high fertility rate scenario” was maintained, is reduced. The “stable fertility rate scenario” is more likely, stabilising the population around 10 billion in 2050 (Le Monde Diplomatique, 2011). In 1987, as a response to the need for focusing on housing for the lower end of the cost scale, on homelessness, the United Nations chose 1987 to be “Year of Shelter for the Homeless”. An international architectural competition was organized. 123 architects from 44 countries competed in the final (UIA, 1987). Many proposals focused on energy challenges. This paper recoups the UN initiative 25 years ago. It contrasts the challenges of developing countries with those of the developed world, by studying examples from the North European cold climate’s typical mass housing in Norway. One of the examples is from after the Second World War, when in 1948 attempts at building cheap housing was initiated. They met resistance from the establishments of engineers and architects (Hasselknippe, 1982). Another example is from 2012. The paper also studies an example from a South European cooling demanding climate, in France. The aim of the contrasting is to map the progress over the 65 years since 1948, discussing area- and material efficiency as well as methods of reducing costs and achieve a more sustainable mass housing development as signs of an environmental shift of paradigm emerge. Through the comparative analysis, the paper studies combination possibilities between the architecture that is built anyway for the upper cost segment and solutions for the lower cost segment. It explores and discusses if experiences and synergies between them can strengthen both and it proposes a way forward.
Keywords: Sustainability, Mass housing, Homelessness.

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