Looking at the Circulation of Models and Ideas Beyond Political Barriers Is of Crucial Importance

by

Dana Vais

&

Gaia Caramellino

Gaia Caramellino is a young scholar in the field of housing history. She teaches History and Theory of Architecture at the Politecnico di Milano and supervises doctoral research at the Politecnico di Torino, with a particular interest in the history of post-war collective housing. Her own PhD (2010) was centered on the figure of William Lescaze, a Swiss-American architect involved in federal housing programs and projects during the New Deal period in the US and explored the encounter between European Modernism and federal standards and codes. Published in English in 2016 (Europe meets America. William Lescaze, Architect of Modern Housing, Cambridge Scholars Publishing), this research opened her interest into the cross-cultural exchanges of ideas, discourses and models and their role in shaping modern and contemporary cultures of habitation – a research perspective that she has developed ever since.

Gaia Caramellino was the coordinator for the research project Architectures for the middle-classes in Italy, 1950s-1970s. For a social history of dwelling in Turin, Milan and Rome (2010-2014). She co-edited the volume Post-war Middle-class Housing. Models, Construction and Change (Peter Lang, 2015) and co-initiated a network on Middle-Class Mass Housing in Europe, supported by the European program COST. She also co-edited Storie di Case: Abitare l’Italia del Boom (Donzelli, 2013), The Housing Project: Discourses, Ideals, Models and Politics in the 20th Century Exhibitions (Leuven University Press, 2020), and co-authored the book Explorations in the Middle-Class City: Torino 1945-1980 (LetteraVentidue, 2015). She is currently working on a collaborative book on The Terms of Habitation.

Gaia is also a scholar who connects, who can move across various academic cultures and builds bridges between different people and perspectives.

This discussion is focused on several issues that concern the field of housing today, its relation to architecture and the importance of collaborative and transnational research. We also elaborate on the various networks on housing that Gaia coordinates, about creating common grounds and encouraging exchanges, about Gaia’s own research projects and experience with various academic environments and her thoughts about future questions in housing research.