Project

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Organising Modernism: The Case of Post-War CIAM

Applicant Stalder Laurent
Number 137444
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Geschichte und Theorie der Architektur (gta) D-ARCH - Departement Architektur ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Architecture and Social urban science
Start/End 01.10.2012 - 31.05.2016
Approved amount 393'684.00
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Keywords (7)

CIAM; History of Architecture; History of Institutions; History of Urban Design; Post War Architecture; The Fifties / 1950s; Modernism

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

The medialisation of architecture is one of the most intensively debated topics today. Specific images of architecture shaped and propounded by interest groups or institutions appear more likely to rivet public interest than any one individual or built project. To be sure this is nothing new. What is new, by contrast, is the increasingly functional differentiation of these groups and institutions and their various forms of expert knowledge. First symptoms of this trend can be identified in the architectural discourse of the 1950s and 1960s. The present project aims to assess how significant a role interest groups and institutions have played in shaping, disseminating and implementing specific forms of architectural knowledge since the late Modern period. It thereby draws on the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) in the post-war period as its prime example. The development of CIAM reflects and to an extent also drove a fundamental change in architectural production. Its impact on architectural practice can still be felt today.

CIAM was founded in 1928 as a small, avant-garde interest group yet grew in the post-war era to become a leading, international institution. The proposed research considers that organizational aspects of CIAM crucially defined its agenda. The post-war CIAM, seen from this angle, comprises an authoritative, powerful, benchmarking, broadly networked architectural association that endeavoured to do no less than establish modern architecture worldwide in the post-war era. The research seeks, on the one hand, to illustrate the mechanisms by which the institution CIAM made an impact on architectural and academic discourse of the 1950s and 1960s; and on the other, to scrutinize CIAM participants' architectural and urban planning projects; and it thereby uses their concrete practice to demonstrate both the impact and the limits of the types of normative knowledge proposed by CIAM. The renown and sheer number of participants in the post-war congresses, their pivotal role in international and state institutions or in tertiary education, and the worldwide impact of CIAM doctrine on post-war practices leave little doubt that the CIAM's organizational structure was a singular achievement in the architectural field – yet the potential and the risks that this implies must also be acknowledged.

In contrast to previous research, which has addressed the post-war CIAM primarily in the light of its chronological development or internally debated positions, the present proposal considers that the structure and organisation of CIAM were decisive for its institutional dimension. It thus assesses CIAM as a body emblematic of the new relations and interests established in the post-war era between architecture, the economy, politics and society; and consequently considers it within this broader framework, particularly with regard to similar institutions such as the UNESCO or the UIA, with which it competed for public attention on the international stage.

The proposal hence takes two separate paths in pursuit of a single explicit objective: to demonstrate the increasing divergence of institutional policy and architectural practice. "Organising Modernism: The Case of Post-War CIAM" encompasses thus a dual focus. Each aspect will be explored in a separate PhD thesis: Project A, "CIAM: An Architectural Institution" examines the mechanisms by which the post-war CIAM made an impact – or tried to do so – both as an institution in its own right and by institutionalising Modernism. Project B, "CIAM Projects: Architecture and Urban Planning" focuses on architectural and urban planning projects, evaluating them both as a concrete means by which CIAM sought to realise its objectives in the post-war period, and as a crucial motor that drove internal debate within the CIAM movement.


Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Building a New Warsaw - Building a Social Warsaw. The First Reconstruction Plans and their International Review
Hanackova Marcela (2017), Building a New Warsaw - Building a Social Warsaw. The First Reconstruction Plans and their International Review, in Moravánszky Ákos and Hopfengärtner Judith (ed.), Birkhäuser, Basel.
Team 10 and Czechoslovakia: Secondary Networks
Hanackova Marcela (2014), Team 10 and Czechoslovakia: Secondary Networks, in Stanek Lukasz (ed.), Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Warsaw, 73-99.
The Architectural Consequences of «Total Environment»: Fuller’s «Proposal» and the UIA Seminar on Industrial Architecture, 1960-1968
Kalpakci Andreas, The Architectural Consequences of «Total Environment»: Fuller’s «Proposal» and the UIA Seminar on Industrial Architecture, 1960-1968, in Moravánszky Ákos and Kegler Karl (ed.), Birkhaeuser/De Gruyter Publishers, Basel.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Associate Prof. Dirk van den Heuvel, TU Delft / HNI Rotterdam Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. ir. Tom Avermaete, TU Delft Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Living CIAM X Talk given at a conference Coming back to CIAM. Central European Groups in Dubrovnik 26.10.2016 Dubrovnik, Croatia Hanackova Marcela;
Ordnung (Säulenordnungen) – Ordonner, Ordonnancer: 4. Architekturtheoretisches Kolloquium Talk given at a conference «Ordonnancer» or «Organiser»? The Legitimation of CIAM’s Postwar Re-Organization by Architectural Theory 16.04.2015 Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin, Einsiedeln, Switzerland Kalpakci Andreas;
East West Central 02. Re-scaling the Environment. New Landscapes of Design 1960-1980. Talk given at a conference Total Environment» and Its Architectural Consequences: UIA’s Seminar on Industrial Architecture as Sense-Making Strategy 28.11.2014 Zurich, Switzerland Kalpakci Andreas;
Industries of Architecture (IOA): 11th International Conference of the Association of Humanities Research in Architecture (AHRA) Talk given at a conference How to Organise the Reconstruction: Postwar CIAM and Its Relationship with the United Nations (1945-1948 13.11.2014 Newcastle, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Kalpakci Andreas;
PhD Workshop on Post-War CIAM Talk given at a conference CIAM and the Bulletin that Never Was: Techniques and Projects to Organize Architecture 27.10.2014 Jaap Bakema Study Centre, Rotterdam, Netherlands Kalpakci Andreas;
PhD Workshop on Post-War CIAM Talk given at a conference Introduction to the project Organizing Modernism: the post-war CIAM 27.10.2014 Jaap Bakema Study Centre, Rotterdam, Netherlands Stalder Laurent;
PhD Workshop on Post-War CIAM Talk given at a conference Helena Syrkus in Bergamo from the perspective of her parallel UIA activities 27.10.2014 Jaap Bakema Study Centre, Rotterdam, Netherlands Hanackova Marcela;
Transnational Networking Practices of Central and Southeast European Avant-garde Talk given at a conference Networking into the International Union of Architects (UIA) - Poland vs. Yugoslavia 23.10.2014 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences University of Zagreb, Croatia Hanackova Marcela;
Raumgeflecthe (Spatial Relations): Summer School of the University Institute of Art History Talk given at a conference Displaying Architecture, Forging the Architect: The Work Ethic of Modern Architecture at the CIAM Congress of 1949 in Bergamo 10.06.2014 Zurich, Switzerland Kalpakci Andreas;
East West Central 01: Re-humanizing Architecture Talk given at a conference Three examples of »humanistic« architecture in Czechoslovakia 16.05.2014 Zurich, Switzerland Hanackova Marcela;
Team 10 East Talk given at a conference Team 10 and Czechoslovakia. Secondary Networks 08.06.2013 Museum of Modern Art, Poland Hanackova Marcela;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Chandigarh sehen. Laurent Stalder im Gespräch mit Maristella Casciato und Studierenden des Doktorats Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 30.09.2015 Centre Le Corbusier, Museum Heidi Weber, Switzerland Hanackova Marcela; Stalder Laurent; Kalpakci Andreas;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions The Eighth UIA Congress on the Training of the Architect International 2015

Awards

Title Year
ETH Medal / Outstanding Doctoral thesis 2017
Collection Research Grant, issued by the Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal, Canada, in collaboration with the Department of Architecture (D-Arch) of ETH in Zurich 2013

Abstract

The medialisation of architecture is one of the most intensively debated topics today. Specific images of architecture shaped and propounded by interest groups or institutions appear more likely to rivet public interest than any one individual or built project. To be sure this is nothing new. What is new, by contrast, is the increasingly functional differentiation of these groups and institutions and their various forms of expert knowledge. First symptoms of this trend can be identified in the architectural discourse of the 1950s and 1960s. The present project aims to assess how significant a role interest groups and institutions have played in shaping, disseminating and implementing specific forms of architectural knowledge since the late Modern period. It thereby draws on the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) in the post-war period as its prime example. The development of CIAM reflects and to an extent also drove a fundamental change in architectural production. Its impact on architectural practice can still be felt today.CIAM was founded in 1928 as a small, avant-garde interest group yet grew in the post-war era to become a leading, international institution. The proposed research considers that organizational aspects of CIAM crucially defined its agenda. The post-war CIAM, seen from this angle, comprises an authoritative, powerful, benchmarking, broadly networked architectural association that endeavoured to do no less than establish modern architecture worldwide in the post-war era. The research seeks, on the one hand, to illustrate the mechanisms by which the institution CIAM made an impact on architectural and academic discourse of the 1950s and 1960s; and on the other, to scrutinize CIAM participants' architectural and urban planning projects; and it thereby uses their concrete practice to demonstrate both the impact and the limits of the types of normative knowledge proposed by CIAM. The renown and sheer number of participants in the post-war congresses, their pivotal role in international and state institutions or in tertiary education, and the worldwide impact of CIAM doctrine on post-war practices leave little doubt that the CIAM's organizational structure was a singular achievement in the architectural field - yet the potential and the risks that this implies must also be acknowledged. In contrast to previous research, which has addressed the post-war CIAM primarily in the light of its chronological development or internally debated positions, the present proposal considers that the structure and organisation of CIAM were decisive for its institutional dimension. It thus assesses CIAM as a body emblematic of the new relations and interests established in the post-war era between architecture, the economy, politics and society; and consequently considers it within this broader framework, particularly with regard to similar institutions such as the UNESCO or the UIA, with which it competed for public attention on the international stage.The proposal hence takes two separate paths in pursuit of a single explicit objective: to demonstrate the increasing divergence of institutional policy and architectural practice. "Organising Modernism: The Case of Post-War CIAM" encompasses thus a dual focus. Each aspect will be explored in a separate PhD thesis: Project A, "CIAM: An Architectural Institution" examines the mechanisms by which the post-war CIAM made an impact - or tried to do so - both as an institution in its own right and by institutionalising Modernism. Project B, "CIAM Projects: Architecture and Urban Planning" focuses on architectural and urban planning projects, evaluating them both as a concrete means by which CIAM sought to realise its objectives in the post-war period, and as a crucial motor that drove internal debate within the CIAM movement.
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