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Workers' Housing Project, Mulhouse: Children playing in square in front of housing complex
In the 19th century the town's captains of industry set up a number of charities, benefit societies and cooperatives in order to improve their workers' quality of life. In 1853, Johann Heinrich Jean Dollfus, mayor of the town (and director of the textile company DMC), founded the "artisans' town" (cite ouvriere) to the north-east of the old town, consisting of about 1200 model dwellings with public bath-, wash- and bake-houses, and library . The houses were let on a system by which the occupant became the owner after the payment of a certain number of installments. Emile Muller was a civil engineer, whose first project was the building of 300 dwellings (1852-1897) for the Dollfuss workers' housing estate. In 1853 he proposed model workers' housing estates called 'cités circulaires', composed of prefabricated timber houses, but none of this type was ever built. After these early experiments in social housing Muller became one of the undisputed specialists in the field, publishing his ideas in 1855 and 1879.