Home Page  
 



 

Warning : This page has been automatically translated from French.
We are currently working on the dictionnary in order to improve the quality of the translation.
Access to the original version.

Folder(s) : Topics > Environment >
Theories of town planning
© Hachette Livre et/ou Hachette Multimédia

The place of the Three Powers in Brasilia
Document Hatchet - Photograph Corinne Doucet
The buildings of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies are surmounted by two large bowls: one, turned towards the sky, represents the Chamber of Deputies; the other, turned over, symbolizes the Senate.


Birth certificate of modern town planning, the revolution haussmannienne coincides with the first steps of the theories of the XXe century that Francoise Choay, in 1965, gathered in various currents, which are less schools than tendencies, sometimes crossing the work of the same author.

The current progressist

By its conceptual power, its doctrinal diversity, its international character, the width of its achievements, its official recognition also in certain countries, like France, its reception criticizes finally by the general public, the main thing of these currents is that which can be named “progressist”. The theorists of this movement intend to plan the organization and the reorganization of the cities by adapting them most effectively possible to the new conditions of their operation, of which they anticipate the evolution in their plans. Integrating in their modeling of urban space the relative data into the techniques and the construction materials (steel, concrete, glass) new, they work out an esthetics of “futuristic” pace adequate to the utopian standards of their “radiant city” and which orders the typology of the residences and the buildings as well as the morphology of the cities to an ideal of formal austerity.  

A Utopia
The first representations of this city of the future had been worked out by certain utopians of the XIXe century, retrospectively called “preurbanists progressists”, of which the ones preached the Community life, the others individual housing: thus, Charles Fourier recommended the organization of phalansteries, which in Texas its Victor disciple tried to carry out Considering, Robert Owen conceived and tried to concretize “villages of co-operation”, Etienne Cabet imagined a communist city models where would prevail of strict conditions of hygiene, Pierre Joseph Proudhon outlined a rational model of dwelling, Benjamin Ward Richardson gave in his utopian city a paramount role to the green areas and the hospitals. Essentially these theorizations remained with the state of project; it is paradoxically the employers which realized, according to a logic of closing, readable in the model utopian progressists, the first working-class quarters, such those of Schneider in Creusot, Wendel with Stiring, Krupp with Essen, or, in the area of Mons, Large Hornu built by Bruno Renard under the direction of Henri-Joseph de Gorge.  

The invention of urban space
If he discovered his first theoretical base in the work of the architect Tony Garnier, named by Edouard Herriot town planner as a chief of the town of Lyon, and who conceived at the beginning of the century the plan of a “industrial city” made up of standardized constructions and based on the principle of a strict partition of space according to his functions, town planning progressist was constituted really only as from 1928, with the foundation of the international Congresses of modern architecture (CIAM), which were perhaps, until their dissolution in 1969, the principal catalyst of the urban practices in the whole world. The CIAM bring together architects who had in their own country initiated an innovative thought on urban space, articulated with a reflection on plastic searchs for avant-garde, the such cubism, and on the range of the novel methods: thus, for Germany, Ludwig Crumbs van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, this last in addition founder in 1919 of Bauhaus, to which the town planner Ludwig Hilberseimer belonged (who will have the responsibility for the restoration of the center of Strait in the United States); for the Netherlands, Cornelius Van Eesteren, Oud Jacob, Gerrit Rietveld; for Switzerland, Le Corbusier (of its true name Charles Edouard Jeanneret-Gray), who animated in Paris the review the new Spirit; for Belgium, Middle-class Victor; for Brazil, Lúcio Costa, which much later gained the contest of the plan of Brasília, that it will carry out with the participation of Oscar Niemeyer; for Spain, Jose Lluis Is useful; for the Soviet Union, Brace Guinzbourg and the architects of the group of the “constructivism”. The their first theoretical work emanated, in 1933, a major document of contemporary town planning, the Charter of Athens, collectively written during a cruising in the Mediterranean but in which the theses of Le Corbusier prevail, who, under her name, republished it in 1943.  

To urbanize the cities
Such as it is released from this text programming science and all the work of theorist achieved without much doctrinal variation by Le Corbusier during about forty years, the project of the CIAM consisted in answering the challenge raised by the chaotic development of urban spaces while breaking with impotent policies “to hold warhead with the animal”, i.e. with of the big city. To ensure the victory of this “formidable battles” which constitutes the project “to want to urbanize a contemporary big city”, several principles were stated in the Charter of Athens, whose articles 77.78 and 79 undoubtedly formulate the essential thesis (which was worth with the movement the name of “functionalism”), that relating to zoning (or “zoning”), i.e. the division of urban space - conceptualized already by Tony Garnier - according to a clear distinction of four fundamental, true functions “key of town planning”: to live, work, be recreated, circulate. In addition to its rudimentary character, this quadripartition presents two notable features.  

Straight lines and dwellings
The first is the independence conferred on circulation, i.e. with the layout of the ways, located away from the dwellings and hierarchical themselves according to speed. A party taken geometrical will in addition lead Le Corbusier to support that “circulation requires the line”, which is as “healthy with the heart of the cities” as the curve is “ruinous for him, difficult and dangerous”. After having sliced in the sharp one of the esthetics of the Middle Ages by affirming that “the curved street is the way of the asses” and “the right street the way of the men”, Le Corbusier still radicalizes her position by stating an ultimate verdict: “The street-corridor with two pavements, choked between high houses, must disappear.”  

The second remarkable feature resides in the privilege allotted to the dwelling to the detriment of the work place, which is tiny room to a logic productivist. The town planning of the CIAM is mainly a town planning of the home, and essentially a town planning of mass, or “popular town planning”. So some of these components choose the individual habitat, Le Corbusier, the theorists of Bauhaus and those of the constructivism plead for construction in height of giant, distant buildings from/to each other, surrounded by greenery in order to break with the opposition of the city and the countryside. It is this principle which governed the realization by Le Corbusier of the radiant, real City of seventeen levels sheltering nearly 2000 people, built in 1947 in Marseilles and reproduced in particular in Nantes. However, the construction of the great whole in France of the post-war period, which contributed much to the disavowal of the international style of the CIAM, does not meet exactly the standards of this one, which was useful rather, speciously, of guarantee.  
 


The current culturalist

Contrary to this extreme modernism which in Le Corbusier confines, according to Harouel, with the “blindness in vandalism”, another tendency developed in same time around the topic of the respect of the city, fidelity to its traditions (singularly with its medieval heritage) and of the need for a town planning worthy of this name for being based on a knowledge preliminary and aiming to the exhaustiveness of the demographic, geographical, social and, more generally, cultural data. It is identifiable in the current says “culturalist”, whose audience, though international, was less than that of its rival progressist and who, without being able to be marked of attachment to the past, led to the development of impressed urban models of nostalgia and in which one could detect a relative ignorance of time present. Its precursors were in particular, to the XIX E century, John Ruskin and William Morris: vituperating the urban logic of the industrial society, they preached a return to the medieval esthetics of the serpentine streets and designed low-size cities able to satisfy with the rights of the spiritual life and the order of nature.

To organize the life in the city
It is at the end of the XIX E century that the two works appeared which directed in a decisive way at the century following the development of the current culturalist. In 1889 appears Art to build the cities (Der Städtebau) of Camillo Sitte, that Le Corbusier did not fail to show to have founded a new “religion of the way of the asses”; hostile to the installation of Vienna according to the principles haussmanniens, Sitte opposes to those of other principles, patiently worked out of the study of the old cities, according to which the urban plan must be regarded as a work of art and privilege the streets and the places, indicated like the meeting and crossing points par excellence. The book of Ebenezer Howard, Tomorrow, published in 1898, reflects in the concept of “garden city” (garden-city) the project of a girdled city of a band of greenery, whose dwellings are prolonged by a garden and are occupied by a population limited to 30 ' 000 people: the first achievements were, north of London, the cities of Letchworth and Welwyn.  

Near to this cultural anthropology shaped an “anthropological” town planning anxious to think the space of the city like place of reception of a human community always made conspicuous by its history and its culture: the most fertile theorists of this current were the Scot Patrick Geddes (Cities in Evolution, 1915), his American disciple Lewis Mumford (Cities through the history, 1965) and the historian of Paris Marcel Poète, which published in 1929 an Introduction to town planning.

The option naturalist

Lastly, irreducible with all these currents and sometimes seeking to reconcile of them the lesson, the important work of Franck Lloyd Wright, The Disappearing City, whose first version goes back to 1932, is with the principle of a town planning “naturalist”, whose originality is to be basically antiurbain: such as it was expressed in the project of “Broadacre City”, this thought of a “natural city of freedom in space and the human reflex” which must be also “optimistic, not policy, nonurban, country” results dissolving the city in nature, in referring the housing units to a modern functionality, and circulation for the use of the car and plane.


 
Home Page   |   Copyright   |   Contact

Réalisation Media Welcome - Tous droits réservés (c) 2007