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Le Team X et le logement à grande échelle en Europe

Bruno Fayolle-Lussac
Rémi Papillault


Texte intégral

1Introduction: outline of an issue

2Bruno Fayolle-lussac

3As Kenneth Frampton emphasized in a special issue of Architecture d’Aujourd’hui (“Team X+20”, no 177, 1975, p. 65) in relation to the members of the group: “While looking for an impossible proof, their creative force broke, and paradoxically what remains of their work is the force of their initial criticism. It’s up to a following generation, unaffected by the delirious mystifying of our recent past, to return to the roots of this criticism and to take up the search for a ‘different architecture’, in a return to the timelessness of mankind”. It is this critical return, implying a regressive approach of the analysis of the realized and lived “œuvre” and a second reading of its fundaments, that forms the basic issue of the seminar.

4Putting the ordinary man at the core of its preoccupations, looking for an aesthetics of number and for an articulation of the complexity and articulation of the elements to be taken into account (housing, street, district, city), it was also necessary, as Kenneth Frampton emphasizes, to consider a fault line inside the group. This is obvious between the defenders of the large scale planning and the modernity (of a modernism?), even of the tabula rasa leading to urban restoration, and those who take the existing city into account (Aldo van Eyck and Giancarlo de Carlo).

5Team X: counter model to the CIAM and new model “outside the CIAM”

6Yannis Tsiomis

7It is often said and in a pertinent way, that Team X originates from an opposition to the CIAM, a kind of conflict of generations, the new one renouncing the well-worn theses of the older one. If this point of view is partly supported, on the other hand all that is related to a new posture or “rupture” on behalf of Team X is not necessarily related to the CIAM. By analyzing the discourse of the architects of this group but also of the thinkers on space (Lefebvre, Vaillant, Woods, Van Eyck, Candilis, Josic, etc. and through Francoise Choay, Bachelard, Lévi-Strauss, Barthes, Vernant, Levêque, Vidal-Naquet, Jakobson, Saussure, K. Lynch, Panofsky, Rousseau, Mac Luhan), the author of this article formulates the hypothesis that - if one agrees with their presence in the professional literature of architecture and in an era of full building and innovation euphoria - the universe of the architect broadens and opens up, beyond an «instrumentalization» of other disciplines, as the CIAM could be accused of.

8But their presence also could be explained differently: by a kind of hesitation in connection with the new convictions including those of Team X. This hesitation is not inevitably a conscious standpoint against the CIAM, but an attempt to reconstruct the field of architecture based on new elements of the post-war period. These new elements are not only of a political, geopolitical or economic nature - in each country the cards are also reshuffled and redistributed -, but also of a technical nature as the new techniques - for the majority the result of war industries - are converted into the production of consumer goods. It deals indeed with changes to which we have to add those related to human settlements: the phenomenon of metropolisation analyzed by urban geography, new concentrations, the spreading out...

9The «Graphs of the movement» as mechanism of urban integration

10Stefania Kenley

11The integration of the social element in the city is represented by Alison and Peter Smithson in what they call “Graphs of the movement”, joining together ways of life and urban forms. In 1953, in the CIAM grid presented at the 9th congress of Aix-en-Provence, they link the idea of the “connectivity” of at inhabitants to the concept of “Urban Re-Identification”. In the same grid, the Smithson exemplify this potential “connectivity” by the circulations: “streets-in-the air” extracted from their project for the multifamily apartments planned for the Golden Lane site in London. Twenty years later, the common space of the “decks” figured out for each three levels of the unit Robin Hood Gardens (1966-1972), takes up the idea of external circulations already planned for the Golden Lane project. However we notice that the considerable reduction of circulation space compared with the “streets-in-the air” of the Golden Lane project, modifies the quality of the “decks”. Does the materialization of these circulations as links between multi-storey dwellings and circulatory flows of the city always represent the key element of a possible “Urban re-identification”?

12If the answer to this question is much debated, the intermediate space located between the body of buildings of the Economist Group represents an emblematic realization for the founders of Team X. Between the streets: St. James, Bury and Ryder, the possible passages on the square of the Economist Building (1959-1964) remain open to the flow of pedestrian circulation at the heart of the West End of London. An incursion into the designing process of this body of buildings reveals some relations of interdependence, which are significant for the constitution of an urban identity.

13The cluster theory: genealogy of a metaphor

14Dominique Rouillard

15The metaphor of the cluster crosses the architectural and urban theory of the Fifties and the Sixties. Reconstituting its genealogy over these two decades, is observing the passage of a botanical comparison aiming at defining an “aesthetics of the connection” according to a structural then biological model ; in the same period the Japanese Metabolists joined and thought of a territorial and three-dimensional town planning. What is the need and the performance of such a recourse to the metaphor and to the diagrams that shape it to work out a theory, to generate the project? Through Cedric Price, of Melvin Webber’s analysis immediately got a response from the architects who had lost faith in the possibility of controlling urban development - be it in the form of an excrescence.

16Extension of Bagnols-sur-Cèze (1956-1963)

17Laurent Duport

18The beginning of the construction of the nuclear power plant in 1954, on the right bank of the Rhone in Marcoule in the Gard, raised the question of how to house the numerous workmen, technicians and managers working on the site. The nuclear power commission and the government department of housing and construction decided the creation of a “real and new urban centre” in the commune of Bagnols-sur-Cèze, ten kilometers from Marcoule.

19The Candilis-Josic-Woods team proposed a new architectural reflection focused on housing, and with the Million operation, a campaign of the French government to promote the massive production of cheap residences, it developed standard models applicable to the solution of the raised problem but avoiding the negative aspects related to the mass production of housing, namely uniformity, repetition, alignment.

20After the construction of almost 3.000 residences in the Paris region: multifamily apartments in Ivry, Cité Emmaüs in Blanc-Mesnil (1955-1957), Bobigny (1956-1962) and Gennevilliers (1955-1956), the architects George Candilis, Alexis Josic and Shadrach Woods and the engineers Paul Dony, Henri Piot and Guy Brunache are in charge of the urban extension project of Bagnols-sur-Cèze. It implies the building of more than 1.200 residences, a school center, a sport center (stadium, gymnasium, swimming pool), a cultural center (theatre, cinema, concerts, exhibitions), a shopping centre (square, store, market), shops and the complete equipment of the new network city.

21The operation highlights the team’s experimentation with different types of housing, in particular in relation with the articulation of functions, of limits of space, of volumes and spaces, of public and private fields, continuing the work developed inside the Atbat-Africa. It is also the beginning of a reflection at the organic level, that is to say the system of connections between the housing units themselves. The diversity of the types of housing (the Coronele, the Citadel, the Escanaux, the Bosquet) and the quality of the articulation sought with the old city earns them the Grand Prix National of Town Planning in 1959. This operation will be presented in the same year during the last CIAM at Otterlo and will be the subject of many publications. Finally the town of Bagnols-sur-Cèze is the place where, 1960’s summer, one of the first Team X congresses was organized.

22Jaap Bakema and the Case of Leeuwarden. A Man Made Landscape within the Infinity of Space

23Dirk van den Heuvel

24Jaap Bakema was the younger partner in the Rotterdam firm of Van den Broek and Bakema. Bakema chaired the last CIAM congress in Otterlo ; after CIAM’s dissolution his office became the official “Boîte Postale pour les Problèmes de l’Habitat” (P.O. box for housing problems) – as he himself liked to put it. In practice Bakema became one of the core members of Team X. His project for Leeuwarden, a small provincial town in Friesland in the north of the Netherlands, will serve as a case study for a discussion of his contribution to the Team X discourse.

25First I shall discuss the internal logics of the project. One of the strengths of Bakema’s work is the continuous development of the “visual unit” in relation with the so-called “wijkgedachte” (idea of the neigbourhood), a sociological concept of planning which is still prevailing in Dutch planning practice. This idea of the visual unit was highly criticized within Team X.

26Secondly I shall explain how Bakema’s urban schemes such as the one in Leeuwarden are the expression of his notion of landscape and space. This relates to the Dutch traditional notion of landscape and city building that can be found in Dutch literature and painting (e.g. Ruysdael) ; it also relates with the notion of space in the De Stijl movement, a space which is infinite, abstract and universal.

27Le Vaudreuil: theoritical contribution to a way of thinking and building housing

28Catherine Blain

29In the story of the Atelier de Montrouge, the project for the new town of Le Vaudreuil – the theoretical foundations of which are defined between 1967 and 1969 – is part of a turning point. Like the Atelier, this project is going through two moments, before and after May 68. Arising at the end of a first cycle of researches (dealing, like ones of Team X, in a revision of the Modern Movement principles), Le Vaudreuil is the privileged scene for a crystallisation of theoretical ideas, generating then an innovative thesis: the city as a combinatory, taking into consideration the human dimension of habitat. The claims of May 68 and the new research frame will afterwards enrich this thesis giving at the same time another status to the project. Having taken into consideration the conditions of its realisation, it will become a real manifesto for a “possible city”, if not a “concrete utopia” – in which, for a certain time, the Atelier will believe.

30This paper will draw the major lines of this theoretical project in order to enlighten its links with Team X debate.

31Temporal scales of Toulouse-le Mirail by Candilis, Josic and woods

32Rémi Papillault

33At the time when we think of the deconstruction of Bellefontaine and its slab represent the first and original part of the Mirail, it seems interesting to us to question in which way Candilis, Josic and Woods concretely worked out a strategy which places the design of the district of Toulouse-Le Mirail in a historical continuity. Already outlined in a preceding research but now actualized by new elements and especially by the pressure due to the current project, this question of temporalities must be reconsidered by not focusing on the theoretical dimension but on the achieved dimension and at different scales, from apartment to territories: At the scale of the residential unit how does the architect’s design adapt itself to different residents’ uses and in particular to the evolution of the family? How does the building integrate a certain evolutivity in its connection with the ground, the slab and the external gangways? At the scale of the district, how has the slab been thought as a public space, a temporally link with the district? What is really is the place of growth? Do individual houses and small apartment blocks which form with the big apartment blocks the pyramid-shaped profile of the district belong to a specific strategy in their connection to time? At the territorial scale, how does the conservation of gardens, parks and castles play a role in the spatial temporalities or the use of the district? Or is the connection to time different at this big scale? How have the links with the city center and the rest of the territory to be organized and what is the situation today?

34Elements for a minimum of significance and love in architecture

35Panayotis Tournikiotist

36The transgression of the theory of architecture and of the city which was proclaimed by Team X in the fifties, already existed in the thought, in the vision of the world and the conception of architecture of its protagonists before or independently from modernity. The house of Rodakis in Egine which was for George Candilis the apocalypse of architecture was not the end but just the beginning. This house was a minimal house. It was the ideal cell minimum to reproduce, to create the city of the multifamily apartment. However what is important is that it is entirely impregnated with significance. Without the significance, the sensitivity and the love, the house of Rodakis would be practically indifferent. However it interests us since it is different, by its diversifying quality which makes its architecture that of its inhabitant. In this sense Candilis does nothing but claiming in his own architectural achievements the hand and the house of Rodakis. This humanistic imprint which is so much lacking in the dreamt metropolis of the Thirties or the Fifties.

© Maison des Sciences de l’Homme d’Aquitaine, 2008

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