In contrast to the settlements in Stuttgart (Weissenhof) in 1927, Vienna or Zurich (Neubühl), both of which were built at the same time, WOBA had a shadowy existence in 1932 – even though it was the most radical settlement in New Building in terms of content. With up to 500 families registered as homeless in Basel, the provision of affordable and hygienic living space was one of the most urgent needs in the 1920s.
As part of the 1st Swiss Housing Exhibition Basel (WOBA) in 1930, the first modernist exhibition housing estate in Switzerland was realised thanks to the commitment of representatives of the Swiss Werkbund: The external reduction of the residential buildings was contrasted inside by an extensive floor plan research of the apartment for the subsistence minimum. “WOBA was the first social housing estate in Switzerland to consistently apply advanced building technology,” is written in the encyclopaedia of 20th century architecture.
Important Swiss representatives of New Building such as Werner Max Moser, Maurice Braillard, Karl Egender and Hans Bernoulli were looking for prototypical solutions for progressive living. The person of architect Hans Schmidt in particular was a direct link to CIAM and the international avant-garde.
The 2nd CIAM Congress 1929 in Frankfurt provided the tailor-made ideal basis for the WOBA housing estate. The ideas discussed there for the construction of minimal apartments were largely implemented in Basel for the first time in Switzerland. In the CIAM exhibition, the type of house realised by Artaria & Schmidt in Basel was published: “Two single-family houses one behind the other, in order to achieve an economic depth of house. The bathroom next to the kitchen is also used as a laundry room. W.C. above with skylight”.