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Athens Constitution – Wikipedia

Athens Constitution – Wikipedia

2023-04-21 05:12:23

Design of Brasília – influenced by The Athens Constitution

The Athens Constitution (French: Charte d’Athènes, Greek: Χάρτα των Αθηνών) was a 1933 doc about urban planning revealed by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. The work was based mostly upon Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse (Radiant Metropolis) e-book of 1935 and concrete research undertaken by the Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) within the early Nineteen Thirties.

The Constitution obtained its identify from location of the fourth CIAM convention in 1933, which, because of the deteriorating political scenario in Russia, occurred on the S.S. Patris certain for Athens from Marseille. This convention is documented in a movie commissioned by Sigfried Giedion and made by his good friend Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: “Architects’ Congress.”

The Constitution had a big affect on city planning after World Struggle II.


Though Le Corbusier had exhibited his concepts for the perfect metropolis, the Ville Contemporaine within the Twenties, through the early Nineteen Thirties, after contact with worldwide planners he started work on the Ville Radieuse (Radiant Metropolis). In 1930 he had grow to be an energetic member of the syndicalist motion and proposed the Ville Radieuse as a blueprint of social reform.

Not like the radial design of the Ville Contemporaine, the Ville Radieuse was a linear metropolis based mostly upon the summary form of the human physique with head, backbone, legs and arms. The design maintained the concept of high-rise housing blocks, free circulation and plentiful inexperienced areas proposed in his earlier work. Le Corbusier exhibited the primary representations of his concepts on the third CIAM assembly in Brussels in 1930 and revealed a e-book of the identical title as town in 1935.

The Useful Metropolis[edit]

The idea of the Useful Metropolis got here to dominate CIAM considering after the convention in Brussels. At a gathering in Zürich in 1931, CIAM members Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Siegfried Giedion, Rudolf Steiger and Werner M. Moser mentioned with Cornelis van Eesteren the significance of photo voltaic orientation in governing the directional positioning of low-cost housing on a given web site. Van Eesteren had been chief architect of Amsterdam’s City Growth Part since 1929 and the group requested him to organize a lot of analytical research of cities prepared for the following important CIAM assembly deliberate to be in Moscow in 1933. The theme for these research can be the Useful Metropolis, that’s, one the place land planning can be based mostly upon function-based zones.

Van Eesteren employed town planner Theodor Karel van Lohuizen to make use of strategies developed for the Amsterdam Enlargement Plan, to organize zoning plans that will predict general future improvement within the metropolis. He relied upon the extra rational strategies being promoted by CIAM at the moment which sought to make use of statistical info for designing zone makes use of quite than designing them in any element.

At a particular congress assembly in Berlin later in 1931 van Eesteren introduced his findings to his colleagues. He introduced three drawings of Amsterdam. The primary at a scale of 1:10000 confirmed land use and density, the second confirmed transportation networks and the third, at 1:50000 confirmed the regional setting of town. He additionally introduced supporting info on the 4 features of dwelling, work, recreation and transport. Primarily based upon his presentation it was determined that the separate nationwide teams inside CIAM would put together related presentation boards for the Moscow assembly. An ordinary set of notation was agreed.

In 1932 Le Corbusier’s Palace of the Soviets competitors entry failed to realize acceptance from the jury and, because of the political circumstances in Russia, CIAM’s agenda turned more and more ignored. A brand new venue for the fourth CIAM convention was required.

The fourth CIAM convention occurred on board the S.S. Patris, an ocean-going liner journeying from Marseilles to Athens in July 1933.

The nationwide teams reported to the convention with the findings from their metropolis research, presenting in every case the agreed three boards displaying a complete of 33 cities. As well as, Le Corbusier and the group who had met earlier in Zürich hosted a gathering to state the core objectives of the Useful Metropolis.

On arrival in Athens on 3 August an exhibition of the Useful Metropolis boards was held on the National Technical University of Athens and inaugurated by Greece’s prime minister. The boards had been separated into seven classes: metropolises, cities of administration, ports, industrial cities, pleasure cities and cities of various operate. The delegates remained in Athens for a lot of days, some visited native classical websites and others visited close by islands. On 10 August they launched into the return journey to Marseilles.

Throughout conferences on the return journey delegates discovered it not possible to agree on resolutions for the Useful Metropolis. Van Eesteren’s unique Amsterdam plan had, with larger sources, a foundation fashioned by scientific knowledge. The plans introduced by the nationwide teams didn’t have this and, regardless of Giedion’s insistence, delegates had been reluctant to agree on pointers. Finally, two teams agreed on two separate texts: observations and resolutions.

The Athens Constitution[edit]

Highpoint 1 by Berthold Lubetkin

The observations taken from the research of 33 cities set pointers underneath the titles: residing, working, recreation and circulation.

CIAM demanded that housing districts ought to occupy the very best websites, and a minimal quantity of photo voltaic publicity ought to be required in all dwellings. For hygienic causes, buildings shouldn’t be constructed alongside transportation routes, and fashionable strategies ought to be used to assemble excessive house constructing areas extensively aside, to free the soil for big inexperienced parks.

-Mumford, 2000, The CIAM Discourse on Urbanism, 1928-1960, The MIT Press, p85

Moreover they mentioned it was vital to cut back commuting instances by finding industrial zones near residential ones and buffering them with huge parks and sports activities areas. Avenue widths and necessities ought to be scientifically labored out to accommodate the velocity and sort of transport. Lastly, on the subject of conservation, historic monuments ought to be stored solely after they had been of true worth and their conservation didn’t scale back their inhabitants to unhealthy residing circumstances.

The observations fashioned the premise of Josep Lluís Sert’s e-book Can our cities survive? and had been included in Le Corbusier’s Athens Constitution revealed in 1943. The resolutions fashioned a part of Le Corbusier’s e-book The Radiant Metropolis revealed in 1935.

The textual content of the Athens Constitution as revealed turned an extension of the content material of The Radiant Metropolis and Le Corbusier considerably re-worded the unique observations. In addition to including new materials he additionally eliminated the city plans upon which the unique textual content was based mostly. This remedy made the Athens Constitution an summary textual content of basic worth but in addition remodeled the unique drive of the observations that had been based earlier than on concrete references. Regardless of its title, the Athens Constitution can’t be thought-about because the mutual end result of the CIAM convention, which occurred ten years earlier, however largely as an expression of Le Corbusier’s particular person issues.[14]

Pre-war affect[edit]

Van Nelle Manufacturing facility, Netherlands

The CIAM 4 assembly was influential amongst attending architects from Switzerland, France, England, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Greece, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Brazil and Canada.

After The Radiant Metropolis was revealed in France in 1935, Le Corbusier continued to develop his concepts of city planning via a lot of unrealised schemes. These included plans for Antwerp, Paris, Moscow, Algiers and Morocco.

Within the Netherlands, CIAM delegates visited the Van Nelle factory designed partially by Mart Stam that was to have fashioned a bigger a part of a Useful Metropolis design.

CIAM 4 was the primary congress that the influential MARS Group from England was represented. In 1935 MARS member Berthold Lubetkin and his apply, the Tecton Group accomplished Highpoint in Highgate, London. The venture comprised 56 dwellings grouped collectively as two crosses on plan, eight dwellings per arm. Every dwelling is linked to a central service core however is separated from its neighbour by a balcony – a design characteristic that nearly eradicated noise switch between dwellings.

In 1937 with the autumn of the Second Spanish Republic, Sert advised that England and the US could also be the very best place to focus CIAM’s actions.

Publish-war affect[edit]

The Athens Constitution had a huge effect on planning thought after World Struggle II. Nonetheless, its affect was extra difficult as a result of within the Fifties CIAM tried to switch the Useful Metropolis described within the Constitution with a distinct Constitution of Habitat.


In 1946 Le Corbusier obtained a fee for tasks in La Rochelle and St Dié. The city plan allowed him to experiment with city monumentality that had been considerably underplayed within the Constitution, however as a part of the venture he proposed eight Unité d’Habitation flanked by a civic centre. Though these proposals had been unbuilt, he had extra success in Marseilles the place an preliminary examine for 3 Unités resulted in a single being constructed. According to the Constitution, the Unité was a north-south oriented block eighteen storeys excessive set in parkland. There’s a public ‘road’ on ranges 7 and eight that gives varied outlets, places of work and a lodge. On the roof there’s a nursery faculty, a working observe and a pool. It opened in 1952 however had begun to affect architects even earlier than it was full.

United Kingdom[edit]

Excessive rises a part of the Alton Property

Parkhill Property, Sheffield

The 1949 Housing Act in England paved the way in which for Local Authorities to offer a stability of housing sorts for a spread of communities, not simply the working class. Within the socialist post-war ambiance, architectural author J M Richards praised Le Corbusier’s Unité for “placing clear and wholesome housing in a parkland setting”.

Between 1952 and 1958 London County Council constructed the Alton East and Alton West high-rise blocks in Roehampton. Alton East comprised 744 dwellings inside primarily 10-storey blocks and Alton West was 1867 dwellings in 5-, 6- and 12-storey blocks. Each tasks are set inside parkland and have since been listed.

In Sheffield in 1958, town architect, Lewis Womersley, designed the Park Hill Estate. The product of a whole slum clearance, 3 times the scale of the Unité, dwellings had been housed in a collection of high-rise buildings linked by exterior decks. These ‘streets within the air’ are huge sufficient to include bicycles and milk floats. Preliminary success got here as a result of entire streets had been moved into adjoining dwellings on the brand new scheme. Harold Macmillan mentioned it might “draw the admiration of the world”.

See Also

In Scotland, the Division of Housing for Scotland inspired Native Authorities to construct extra unified and open schemes. The Useful Metropolis prescribed the separation of commercial zones from residential ones by parkland. This idea suited the regeneration of commercial decay in Scottish cities. From 1956 the Hutchesontown Gorbals space of Glasgow was redeveloped. The architect Robert Matthew designed one of many 4 areas utilizing 18-storey blocks on a north-south axis that ignored native road patterns.

The Golden Lane Estate in London was designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, who additionally designed the adjoining Barbican Estate. It has a wide range of dwellings and a very good provision of supporting neighborhood buildings. Just like the Unité it has a terrace on the roof.

The Smithsons (Alison and Peter Smithson) had been towards the 4 features explored for the Useful Metropolis, renaming them Home, Avenue, District and Metropolis. Within the Golden Lane improvement the Home turned the household unit, the Avenue was an elevated entry deck however the District and Metropolis lay exterior the venture’s boundaries. Their work was by no means constructed at Golden Lane, however these concepts might be seen of their e-book “City Structuring”.

The Americas[edit]

Ministers Esplanade in Brasília

Lúcio Costa’s conception of the plan for Brasília noticed town as a manifestation of the Useful Metropolis. Like Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse, it was seen as a way of imposing order, progress and stability to Brazil’s new capital. Like Le Corbusier, Costa and Oscar Niemeyer aspired to provide a metropolis based mostly upon equality and justice.

In a variation of the Useful Metropolis, Sert designed married-student housing for Harvard University in 1964. Generally known as Peabody Terraces it was made up of three important towers set in lawns and sheltered pedestrian routes. It averted the same old vacuum on the base by grading the dimensions between the towers and the lawns.

The remainder of the world[edit]

In Japan in 1957, Kunio Maekawa designed the Harumi Residence block in Tokyo based mostly upon the concept of the Unité. In the meantime, In Tel Aviv in 1963 CIAM member Jacob B. Bakema designed a Useful Metropolis proposal based mostly upon Le Corbusier’s Algiers scheme.


The Pruitt–Igoe housing scheme in St Louis, Missouri was designed in accordance with CIAM beliefs for the Useful Metropolis. It was made up of 14 storey blocks and is commonly claimed to have gained an American Institute of Architects award when it was in-built 1951, however no proof of such exists. Charles Jencks proclaimed that the loss of life of Modern Architecture was on 15 July 1972 at 3.32pm when the Pruitt–Igoe housing scheme was demolished with dynamite.

Architectural critic Reyner Banham was involved that the supposed universality of the Constitution hid a really slender view of structure and planning that overly constrained the members of CIAM. The emphasis on tall high-density housing amongst huge, inexperienced areas successfully killed analysis into different areas of city housing.

In planning phrases the Constitution had set inflexible geometries for city planning, more and more there turned an consciousness of phrases like ‘neighbourhood’, ‘cluster’ and ‘affiliation’ that demanded a extra natural method to the picture of town.

Even by 1954 through the Aix-en-Provence assembly of CIAM the youthful era riled towards the pre-war utopian beliefs that the Constitution represented. This disillusionment would result in the formation of Team X on the Dubrovnik assembly of CIAM that will finally result in the breakup of the Convention as an organisation.

Within the case of Brasília, while Niemeyer remained trustworthy to the concepts of zoning and inexperienced areas, his revised city utopia turned based mostly upon a smaller metropolis with a excessive vertical focus of individuals with elevated pedestrian services. In 1958 he had warned that his utopian dream couldn’t be fulfilled except society itself was reorganised to go well with it. At its inauguration town was branded a Kafkaesque Nightmare with an Orwellian surroundings.

To scale back the matter to excessive density when no due consideration was given to communal services was to court docket catastrophe; to create open area with out greenery was to devalue the concept of the neighborhood residing in nature. The imitations of the Unité often concerned such drastic omissions. Does this imply that the prototype ought to be blamed for the later disastrous variations?

−Curtis, 1986, Fashionable Structure since 1900, Phaidon, p293

Latest historical past[edit]

In 2003 the European Council of Spatial Planners wrote a brand new model of the Constitution.

J. G. Ballard’s e-book High Rise is ready in a 40 storey block set in parkland with different high-rises in central London. On the tenth flooring is a large concourse with grocery store, outlets {and gymnasium} and a swimming pool. On the thirty fifth flooring there’s a smaller swimming pool, a sauna and a restaurant. Because the prosperous tenants embark upon an orgy of destruction, Ballard tells the story of how the entire block slowly degenerates into chaos.



  • Banham, Reyner (1987). Age of the Masters – A Private View of Fashionable Structure. Architectural Press.
  • Colquhoun, Ian (2008). RIBA Ebook of British Housing – 1900 to the current day. Architectural Press.
  • Curtis, William (1986). Fashionable Structure since 1900. Phaidon Press.
  • Curtis, William (2006). Le Corbusier – Concepts and Varieties. Phaidon Press.
  • Jencks, Charles (1978). The Language of Publish-modern Structure. Balding and Mansell Ltd.
  • Frampton, Kenneth (1990) [1980]. Fashionable Structure a Vital Historical past (Revised and enlarged ed.). London, United Kingdom: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-20201-X.
  • Jenkins, David (1999). Twentieth Century Classics – Le Corbusier Unite d’Habitation. Phaidon Press.
  • MacInnes, Ranald; Glendinning, Miles; MacKechnie, Aonghus (1999). Constructing a Nation – The Story of Scotland’s Structure. Canongate Books.
  • Mumford, Eric (2000). The CIAM Discourse on Urbanism, 1928-1960. The MIT Press.
  • Philippou, Stylliane (2008). Oscar Niemeyer – Curves of Irreverence. Yale University Press.

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