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The colored glass portholes on the doorframes of the Schminke House by Hans Scharoun were at a height that the children could look through. Helga recalls running from door to door within the house to look at the world through different colors.

The colored glass portholes on the doorframes of the Schminke House by Hans Scharoun were at a height that the children could look through. Helga recalls running from door to door within the house to look at the world through different colors.

 
 
Ernst remembers being ashamed of the ostentatious villa his parents commissioned Mies van der Rohe to build them in provincial Brno.

Ernst remembers being ashamed of the ostentatious villa his parents commissioned Mies van der Rohe to build them in provincial Brno.

Mrs. Goron and her husband in front of their house by Le Corbusier in the Cité Frugès, Pessac where she grew up. The neighborhood reminded her of the buildings in Morocco where she lived before moving to Pessac with her family.

Mrs. Goron and her husband in front of their house by Le Corbusier in the Cité Frugès, Pessac where she grew up. The neighborhood reminded her of the buildings in Morocco where she lived before moving to Pessac with her family.

The view from the second storey balcony of the row house by J.J.P. Oud where Rolf lived at the Weissenhof Estate; this was his favorite place because he would drag the head of his mattress outside and sleep under the stars in the summer.

The view from the second storey balcony of the row house by J.J.P. Oud where Rolf lived at the Weissenhof Estate; this was his favorite place because he would drag the head of his mattress outside and sleep under the stars in the summer.

A page from Rolf’s family album showing his childhood at the Weissenhof Estate.

A page from Rolf’s family album showing his childhood at the Weissenhof Estate.

Gisèle remembers when, growing up in the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille by Le Corbusier, children were banned from loitering in the hallways so they commandeered the stairwells as their playground.

Gisèle remembers when, growing up in the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille by Le Corbusier, children were banned from loitering in the hallways so they commandeered the stairwells as their playground.

The concrete rock on the rooftop terrace where Gisèle heard of Le Corbusier’s death while sunbathing and listening to the radio. She remembers feeling so close with the building, and by extension its architect, that she thought the news was about her in some way.

The concrete rock on the rooftop terrace where Gisèle heard of Le Corbusier’s death while sunbathing and listening to the radio. She remembers feeling so close with the building, and by extension its architect, that she thought the news was about her in some way.

The upper terrace with sandbox at the Tugendhat House by Mies van der Rohe, where Ernst played in the afternoon, listening for the sound of the car horn signaling his father’s arrival home.

The upper terrace with sandbox at the Tugendhat House by Mies van der Rohe, where Ernst played in the afternoon, listening for the sound of the car horn signaling his father’s arrival home.

growing up modern

ongoing research and documentation project

Supported by a Faculty Fellowship from the Humanities Institute, University at Buffalo and the Lawrence B. Anderson Award, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

While a lot has been recorded about the clients who wilfully dared to pursue modernity in their domestic environments, little is known about the experience of children who grew up in some of history's most revolutionary homes and housing. Our aim is to document the stories and experiences of the serendipitous inhabitants of architectural visions in order to bring their memories to a broader audience through an exhibition and publication.

As part of the research and documentation project, we have undertaken a series of interviews with individuals who were, as children, the first inhabitants of radical buildings from the early twentieth century.

Interviews conducted thus far include the first children to grow up in:

- Row house by J.J.P. Oud in the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart
- Tugendhat Villa by Mies van der Rohe in Brno
- Schminke House in Loebau by Hans Scharoun
- Row house by Le Corbusier’s in Pessac Estate outside Bordeaux 
- Unité d’Habitation in Marseille by Le Corbusier
- House by Walter Gropius in the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart

‘Growing up Modern’ is a foray into the field of oral history typically not investigated in architecture scholarship. The study questions what histories are being preserved for these exemplary structures and posits that the recollections of those who have occupied the buildings, rich in anecdotal and personal detail, are as valid and worthy of preservation as the material constructions themselves.