City issue

Urban Theory, articles and research

Leave a comment

REMNANTS of CIAM Rethink/Relaunch Athens

Lecture by Constantina Theodorou,  “On BOARD” project, dedicated to the 80 years since the 4th CIAM, Curated by Sofia Dona, CAMP, 30 June 2012, ATHENS

REMNANTS of CIAM Rethink/Relaunch Athens or how the ghosts of the 4th Ciam are still haunting all the plans for Athens nowadays.

“… It is precisely the idea of ​​FUNCTIONAL CITY, that is lying behind all the projects that are proposed for Athens, but also internationally. The idea of ​​the functional city lies behind terms such as Sustainable city, Smart City, Eco-City. Even the visional cities of the Situationists and the Futurists,  with their playful intention, which seem to be beyond the term of functionality, they are essentially within the concept of the functional city, fulfilling solely the function of leisure (even if it is quite sophisticated). The functionality, is emerging as the supreme goal of the city, as the fulfillment of the idea of the city. It’s like saying that a city is a city when it works and survives. This, at once, ignores centuries of history when city was identified primarily by the possibility and density of relationships. We are talking about mixed compact cities meaning the mixing and the density of functions and not necessarily the mixing of people and constructing  relationships of people, which is finally the city.

There is a trap, in exactly what these 4 functions of the city are, something that escapes us. Dwelling, work, recreation, transportation, it seems simple-what else could be the city; The problem of these 4 categories was highlighted by  Despotopoulos, a Greek architect who took part in the 4th Ciam, and who later, in ’52, proposed some new categories.
He proposed to think of economic structure  instead of just  work, of co-LIVING instead of housing, of social space instead of recreation. He overrides the circulation, as it is obvious that we cannot face the transportation equally as a function of the city, transportation can’ t be a city’s ultimate goal, and  in its place puts a very important function of the city, the ideological formation, which should be a priority, especially in a globalized environment. So he proposes a plan aimed at the “idea of the city” and not to the solution of traffic. The ideological formation- context is certainly not something static and each era creates its own.

It is obvious that through the categories of  Despotopoulos emerges a radical other model of city, in its nature, a city of relations. As they were the cities of the past. This idea of ​​the city, along with the four new categories he set, seems to be forgotten. We are not talking about economic constitution, social space,  ideological context, and co-living. We are Talking about housing, recreation, work, mobility, even when it seems we are talking about something else. Words are not innocent. The words we use make up the city.

And this can be seen in the examples of the most popular, high-publicity projects for Athens now…”

Read more on the presentation below