The political city unit rarely coincides with its geographical unit, that is to say, with its region. The laying out of the political territory of cities has been allowed to be arbitrary, either from the outset or later on, when, because of their growth, major agglomerations have met and then swallowed up other townships. Such artificial layouts stand in the way of good management for the new aggregation. Certain suburban townships have, in fact, been allowed to take on an unexpected and unforeseeable importance, either positive or negative, by becoming the seat of luxurious residences, or by giving place to heavy industrial centers, or by crowding the wretched working classes together.
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Supposedly based on functional analyses of cities compiled by C. After discussing the origins of C. M, this entry examines the history of documents that stemmed from C. IV and questions whether any of them represents an authentic state e t of the orga izatio s shared ie s about urbanism. It then notes that despite questions about validity, the belief that a definitive Charter actually existed would play an important role in historical narratives that sought to explain how architectural Modernism influenced the development of city planning in the second half of the twentieth century.
Main Text The Athens Charter is the name given to a document advocating rational principles of town planning that allegedly emerged from C. Two ensuing Congresses at Frankfurt C. II, and Brussels C. III, examined topics of shared concern connected with municipal housing.
IV turned to the wider scale; enlarging upon a philosophical orientation approved at La Sarraz, which held that urban form was predicated by four key functions — work, residence, recreation and transport. National member groups were asked to provide written and cartographic analyses of major cities in their home countries on a standardised basis that would allow cross- national comparisons.
Notably, they would provide three large-scale maps suitable for display, representing: areas for work, residence and recreation; the transport system; and the city s relatio ship to its regio. The Congress therefore took place instead on a cruise vessel, the S.
At the end of the Congress, C. A document entitled Constatations Conclusions , published in November , provided outline statements. Its content was surprisingly mild. There was, for instance, broad commitment to functional analysis, but few specific recommendations about how it might be applied.
Moreover, apart from comments that envisaged modern technology profoundly reshaping street patterns, the Constatations mostly specified ideas that were then common currency. The reason was largely tactical. The agreed deadline for publication in the periodical Annales Techniques was fast approaching. Given the sharp disagreements between members, it was decided to concentrate on areas of initial consensus leaving thornier issues for later resolution. Work proceeded sporadically on two publications intended to give a fuller sense of Modernist ideas about the Functional City: a tech ical olu e for professional consumption and a popular volume for a broader readership.
In the event, funding problems, political difficulties especially for central and southern European architects and pervasive disagreements over fundamental principles delayed progress. Yet notwithstanding, C. V Paris, that a Charter of To Pla i g had indeed been formulated from the materials prepared for C. IV; a document officially referred to, for the first time, as the Athe s Charter.
The long-awaited monographs appeared in the early s. Le Corbusier produced the scientific volume in wartime France as a page booklet entitled The Athens Charter When structuring their texts, both followed the lines of C.
Sert, for example, made extensive use of available visual materials, gathered from round the world, which seemed broadly sy pathetic to the idea of the Fu ctio al City.
For his part, Le Corbusier produced a characteristically doctrinaire, if cavalier application of rational principles to city design that substantially justified his own position. In short, therefore, scrutiny of the proceedings and publications of C.
Mythic status, however, can be more important than actuality and there were several major reasons why it suited key parties to assert that such a document indeed existed. The first stemmed from the needs of the architects. Emerging battered from recent traumas, the re-established C. As such, the Athens Charter served to give powerful ideological support to Modern architects clai for a i porta t stake in postwar city reconstruction.
The second source of support for the existence of a monolithic Athens Charter came from historical scholarship. Historians were faced with accounting for the dramatic changes that occurred in the skyline, appearance, land-use patterns, and circulation systems witnessed in cities throughout the world between roughly and If it could be argued that these elements owed their rationale to an overarching blueprint laid down earlier by an influential international body, they then had a powerful tool in explaining the changes taking place.
Equally, when the mood quickly became hostile to architectural Modernism at the city scale, it was easy to view the Athens Charter, in the words of a prominent commentator, as the most Olympian, rhetorical and ultimately destructive document to come out of C. Frampton, Ultimately, the continuing reputation of the Athens Charter depends on whether or not the plurality inherent in C. If that plurality is recognised, the Athens Charter will assume its proper place as an enlightening episode in the formation of the Modern Movement and its struggles to address the city scale.
If not, the Athens Charter will retain its misleading landmark status in narratives constructed about the impact of architectural Modernism on contemporary city planning. References Bosman, J. Editorial: Functional City? Frampton, K. Modern Architecture. London, Thames and Hudson Le Corbusier. Paris: La Librairie Plon. Can Our Cities Survive?. Nieu e s-Gravelandseweg, Netherlands: Thoth. Gold, John R. The Experience of Modernism. London: Spon. Town Planning Review, Mumford, Eric.
Somer, Kees. The Functional City. Rotterdam: NAi Publishers. Author Biography: John R. Gold, Professor of Urban Historical Geography in the Department of Social Sciences at Oxford Brookes University, is the author or editor of 19 previous books on urban and cultural subjects. He is currently working on the third of his trilogy on architectural modernism in Great Britain, entitled The Legacy of Modernism: modern architects, the city and the collapse of orthodoxy, Related Papers.
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Cultural Heritage Policy Documents. IV International Congress for Modern Architecture This document was produced as a result of the IV International Congress of Modern Architecture which took as its theme "the functional city" and focused on urbanism and the importance of planning in urban development schemes. The document includes urban ensembles in the definition of the built heritage and emphasizes the spiritual, cultural and economic value of the architectural heritage. It includes a recommendation calling for the destruction of urban slums and creation of "verdant areas" in their place, denying any potential heritage value of such areas. It condemns the use of pastiche for new construction in historic areas. This is a retyped version of a translated document entitled The Athens Charter, Tyrwitt created the translation from French to English in ; the translation was thereafter published by Harvard University's Library of the Graduate School of design.
Le Corbusier from The Athens Charter (1943)
The Charter got its name from location of the fourth CIAM conference in , which, due to the deteriorating political situation in Russia, took place on the S. Patris bound for Athens from Marseilles. This conference is documented in a film commissioned by Sigfried Giedion and made by his friend Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: "Architects' Congress. Although Le Corbusier had exhibited his ideas for the ideal city, the Ville Contemporaine in the s, during the early s, after contact with international planners he began work on the Ville Radieuse Radiant City. In he had become an active member of the syndicalist movement and proposed the Ville Radieuse as a blueprint of social reform. Unlike the radial design of the Ville Contemporaine, the Ville Radieuse was a linear city based upon the abstract shape of the human body with head, spine, arms and legs. The design maintained the idea of high-rise housing blocks, free circulation and abundant green spaces proposed in his earlier work.
The Athens Charter is a written manifesto which published by the Swiss architect and urban planner Le Corbusier in It was first published in France and in those years that The Athens Charter was published, France was at the height of the German occupation and the Vicky government. To make the modern architecture and the urban planning more efficient, rational and hygienic; the charter can be interpreted as a condensed version of them as a total remaking of cities in the industrial world. Rubin, E. Its purpose was to advance both modernism and internationalism in architecture and urban planning as an avant-garde association of architects. To do a service the interests of the society, CIAM saw itself as an elite group who revolutionize the architecture and city planning. Its members were consists of some of the best known architects of the twentieth century such as Le Corbusier, Walter Gropious, and Richard Neutra, and also many of others who considered it for principles on how to formalize the urban environment in a rapidly changing world.