Social housing in Spain and Slovakia: Comparison in development (1900 – 2010)

Mercedes Ortego González


The house itself is a complex social element in all the structures that determine it. Obviously the type and level of services offered by housing at the beginning of the 20th century differs from those currently being built in the same locations. The differences do not respond only to developments in technologies, but also to the social sector they are intended for.

The field of housing development is wide. It has always been influenced by certain historical events and is related to population migration. It accompanies the development of society and its needs; and is inevitably linked to the development of towns. Social housing is an important part of this area, although the specific term “social housing” cannot be easily defined. What exactly do we mean by the term “social housing”? In this case we consider as social housing any construction with a certain state involvement. This means buildings for housing built with the state as the main investor. The comparison between the developments of such types of housing in two different countries can show us how diverse approaches to social housing can be in various countries. Do they offer the same solutions to similar problems? Is global history determining the same housing developments in different countries?

Social housing has always represented a “laboratory of ideas.” To provide necessary housing for a large number of people has always been a challenge for architects. It is said that in our towns we can read our history. In the development of our social housing we can read at which points various societies differ.

Keywords: Slovakia, comparison, social housing, Spain, 20th century, architecture