Bagnols-sur-Cèze (France) 25-30 July 1960
Team 10 on its own: against formulae, against formalism
The summer holidays of 1960 was apparently a good moment to hold the first meeting of Team 10 after the termination of CIAM. Following a preparatory meeting by the inner circle in Paris, also attended by the Smithsons and Bakema, the firm of Candilis-Josic-Woods circulated a letter announcing the first meeting.
The aim of the meeting was to continue the conversation among Team 10 participants after Otterlo. A number of like-minded outsiders were also invited to take part. The location of the meeting was the small town of Bagnols-sur-Cèze, in the South of France, where Candilis-Josic-Woods were working on a substantial extension plan. In the context of this project, they were interested in raising the following issues:
— The creation of a new habitat which should be integrated into an existing urban and regional structure.
— The transformation of this structure, transformation of the cities. Transformation of the region.
This statement shows Candilis-Josic-Woods going further with the significant programmatic shift that had already taken place in the orthodoxy of modern architecture, a shift that was characteristic of the Team 10 discourse. It began with the introduction of Patrick Geddes’s ‘Valley Section’ during preparations for the tenth CIAM Congress in 1956. The aim was no longer seen as building for a new era and remorselessly replacing the old one, of erasing the existing context to create a tabula rasa. Now there was a concern for integrating the modern with the existing fabric and for seeking new possibilities for transforming both old and new structures. The wine region around Bagnols-sur-Cèze presented a perfect case study. It was in the process of radical modernization due to a nuclear power station being built in Marcoules and barrages at Donzere-Mondragon. The population of Bagnols-sur-Cèze had quadrupled in five years.
The letter continued by raising the following topics:
1. The definition of the role and vocabulary of the architect in present society and before present realities.
— The transformation of cities and regions
— Birth of the urban region
— The actual participation of industry in architecture
— The aspect of grand nombre in architecture (the end of an individually monumental architecture)
2. The poles and tendencies of present day architecture:
— Continuity – change and growth
— Identity – uniformity
— Mobility – Monument
— Machine – Mason
— Idea – Image
3. The continuing struggle against enemies from within and from without:
— Against formulae
— Against formalism, whether modern or neo-romantic.
It concluded by proposing to focus discussion on everyone’s ideas about the questions raised, rather than on the member’s own work. Obviously, people were welcome to clarify their opinions by reference to whatever they considered necessary, be it ‘plans, articles, films, lectures, etc.’ However, ‘The important thing is that a common and intense action should begin.’
This call for ‘action’ automatically raised the question of what direction Team 10 wished to take, and what shape of organization was appropriate to that direction. Despite the urgency Candilis-Josic-Woods gave this question in their letter, no answer was reached in Bagnols-sur-Cèze. It was to become a recurrent bone of contention in subsequent Team 10 discussions. The question of which outsiders should be invited to participate in the debates was to trigger some emotional clashes, reaching a crisis point at the meeting in Urbino in 1966.
The picture of the Bagnols-sur-Cèze meeting presented in Alison Smithson’s later report in Team 10 Meetings contrasts somewhat with the urgency of this debate. Although the meeting had undoubtedly been an inspiring one, for example with Herman Haan showing films of his African journeys, the mood she depicted is if anything of a relaxed holiday with visits to the Arles amphitheatre and to Orange.
The presentations by Oskar Hansen and Jaap Bakema were published by André Schimmerling in Le Carré Bleu. They were indeed both about grand ideas. Bakema wrote about ‘l’Architecture et la nouvelle société’, setting out his comprehensive analysis of society in relation to the individual by reference to his concepts of ‘Total Life’ and ‘Total Space’. Hansen too examined relations between the collective and the individual, using his concept of ‘Open Form’, which he had already presented at Otterlo. At Bagnols, he stated: ‘Open Form has the task of helping the individual find himself amid the collective, to make himself indispensable in the formation of his own environment. It would seem that society should facilitate (and not impose, as Closed Form does) the development of the individual. There needs to be a synthesis between the objective, collective, social elements, and the subjective, individual elements.’
Dirk van den Heuvel
Team 10 members present
organized by Candilis-Josic-Woods
Giancarlo De Carlo
Aldo van Eyck