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Elizabeth Darling on Europe Rehoused
28 May, 2021
Published in 1938, Europe Rehoused became one of the most influential housing texts of the post-war era, and is still widely cited today (including my Master’s degree reading list). Written by the housing consultant Elizabeth Denby (1894–1965) it offers a survey of the nearly two decades of social housing built in six European countries since the end of the First World War: Sweden, Italy, Germany, France, Holland and Austria (chiefly Vienna). This work was then compared with what had been built in Britain in the same period.
For me, the book was not just an example of an excellent work of scholarship by a woman, but an introduction to a significant figure in the history of women in architecture, about whom I would go on to research and write my PhD. Denby’s practice as a writer, designer, researcher and activist offered a model of thinking about women’s shaping of the built environment which enabled me to move beyond equating agency in architecture with professional architectural training.