"The interest in a comparison of approaches taken to the design of housing in France and Italy lies not only in the possibility it affords for an understanding of aspects of European contruction practices, as percieved through the reality of construction in Europe: it lies as well in the opportunity the subject affords for bringing cultural characteristics of habitation into play, thus revealing aspects of the specific characters of French and Italian societies. With a view to providing a basis of comparison of French and Italian patterns of habitation, we have studied the typical processes of conception of public housing in these countries, based on the hypothesis that patterns of habitation are products of the interaction between, on the one hand, the physical form of the housing offered, and on the other, the typical requirements and wishes of users. Human needs and aspirations cannot be considered in isolation: they must be placed within the social and economic context of the society in question. A survey of French and Italian architects has revealed that, in Italy, housing production is at once more standardised and more attentive to public expectations than in France. The degree of control imposed by government officials concerned through urban design regulations and other means appears about equivalent, but in Italy the architects role is much more circumscribed: his responsibility is often quite limited while that of the officials taking the clients rOle is quite extensive. The carte blanche so often given to French architects by those to whom they answer would be entirely unthinkable on the other side of the Alps. As a result, the user's influence on the design process has less to do with the architects attitude or approach, and much more to do with the conscienciousness of the officials managing the project. A second aspect is that of the economic structures of the housing construction industries in the two countries: in Italy, the least economically significant urban center is still served by a labour force of small and medium-sized independant subcontracting companies. In France, due to the. dissappearance of such enterprises and the general deterioration in the quality of workmanship, the level of servicing and architectural finish-work is mediocre, in both private and public sector projects. Finally, the two countries have adopted nearly opposite positions with regard to modernity in architecture and related constructional practices. In France, since the end of the Second World War, following the directives of Le Corbusier, a powerful tendancy towards technical and architectural innovation has manifested itself, sustained by government programs such as c,Plan Construction.. Italy has known nothing similar. There, the influence of the Modern Movement has been much less pronounced, a smaller portion of the building recently undertaken housing, and the administration directing the creation of public housing more decentralised; for all these reasons, the avant-garde has played a much smaller role in Italy than in France. On the other hand, the Italian economic context has favoured the use of "fine" materials (stone, quality tiling and wood, etc;) in accordance moreover with the desires of users and housing professionals alike. Finally, if housing specifications (for floor-to-ceiling height, wall and floor finishes, number of washrooms, etc.) are more generous in Italy than in France, it is perhaps due to the fact that there the dwelling has been much less subject to an orthodox functionalist vision than in France. Italian housing design would thus appear to be more rational than its French in its conception. This is not to say that Italian architects are more rational: they are simply obliged to submit to much stricter rules."