Berlin (Germany) 25-29 September 1965
Between understatement and overdesign
The Team 10 meeting in Berlin was one of a series of post-Otterlo gatherings in which the core group members were still seeking to determine the character and size of the Team 10 membership — what kind of unity in diversity was feasible. Accordingly, the invitation list of 30 individuals includes not only familiar names from previous meetings, but also the newcomers Oswald Mathias Ungers, Hans Hollein and Herman Hertzberger. The list was ‘necessarily incomplete but not intended to be exclusive’, and thus open to extension. A striking feature of the list is that, apart from the Japanese invitees Maki and Kurokawa (who had already been present at Bagnols-sur-Cèze and Royaumont respectively) the names on the list are exclusively European. Eventually only fifteen participants attended, including the French engineer/architect Jean Prouvé and the Israeli architect Arthur Glikson, both of whom were present as outsiders. The latter was invited on the initiative of Van Eyck. Prouvé was engaged for the technical detailing of the Free University building. The firm of Candilis-Josic-Woods had worked with him before, for example on the competition for a ski resort in Vallée de Belleville.
The meeting was partly motivated by the establishment of the new branch office of Candilis-Josic-Woods in Berlin, set up to supervise construction of the Free University. The Berlin office was led by project architect Manfred Schiedhelm, who had already been involved in the competition design of the Free University in 1963. The presentations were held at the Akademie der Künste, in the Hansaviertel district, the showcase district for modern architecture built in the latter half of the 1950s with among others the high-rise apartment block by Bakema. The Märkische Viertel district, where both Woods and Ungers had realized apartment blocks, was also visited.
Unlike the invitations to earlier meetings, the one Woods issued for Berlin 1965 did not propose any specific theme. Woods wrote, ‘The purpose of the meeting would be the exchange of information and opinion on current problems of building and planning. Anyone who wishes to present specific problems and/or solutions, within the provinces of architecture and planning, will be free to do so. Others may feel that limiting their participation to open discussion of these problems would be more constructive. It is hoped that discussion of the problems and criticism of proposed solutions may help all the participants to a more complete comprehension of the tasks which architects face today.’
Team 10 in Berlin, probably at the Akademie der Künste, 1965. Left to right: Woods, Candilis and Van Eyck, Peter and Alison Smithson, Soltan, and Bakema.
A wide variety of projects were consequently presented at the meeting. Besides the Free University presentation, for instance, attention was given to Hollein’s candle shop in Vienna and Bakema’s Pampusplan for Amsterdam. Of all the projects presented at the meeting, only two had actually been built by then. These were an industrial building in Amsterdam designed by Hertzberger, and De Carlo’s Collegio del Colle student accommodation near Urbino. Each of these projects contributed in its way to the issues implicitly raised by the Free University — growth and change in time.
Hertzberger’s project comprised a number of new work units made of prefabricated concrete elements and placed on the roof of an existing industrial hall. The form of each element — a column, beam or roof slab — was such that it retained its own identity when assembled. The elements also made it possible to expand the construction in future, so that the existing building would gradually be overgrown and thus changed in identity.
In De Carlo’s project, growth is suggested by the way the identical student rooms fan out along the contours of the hillside around the higher-lying centre with communal amenities. A web of concrete footpaths links the rooms together and to the centre. De Carlo’s contribution was highly appreciated, among other reasons because the design formed part of a regional study of Urbino and its environs. Van Eyck was especially enthusiastic about the plan, in particular about De Carlo’s attitude towards history and the way this was integrated into the project.
Van Eyck himself brought along a church design he had submitted for a competition, under the motto ‘The Wheels of Heaven’. The church was designed for the Kerk en Wereld (Church and World) training institute of the Dutch Reformed Church in Driebergen. Sited amid trees, the chapel expresses the ecumenical character of the congregation in a multi-centered space with four focal points disposed along a via sacra running through the building. In this modest project, Van Eyck again illustrated the idea of the aesthetics of number. The Wheels of Heaven was not built, but it was a forerunner of Van Eyck’s later Pastoor Van Ars Church in The Hague, which was realized — and visited by Team 10 — in 1974.
The Smithsons surprised the participants with their study of the village of Street in Somerset. They had taken the opportunity of the construction of a bypass around the village to carry out a precise analysis of the qualities of the existing village in relation to its surroundings and to propose a number of imaginative interventions to boost those qualities. The interventions concerned were the development of a new shopping centre, car parks for the industrial area and low rise housing. The project was in some ways similar to De Carlo’s project in Urbino although here the landscape qualities were much less spectacular. The Smithsons catalogued items like trees, hedgerows, the surrounding grasslands and the varied views provided by the gently rolling countryside.
Ungers and Wewerka, both from Berlin, presented projects for new housing complexes in the city which conformed to an established Berlin tradition concerning the relation between the private and public domains. The projects testified to a more rational, typological approach than was usual in Team 10 circles. Ungers later collaborated with Wewerka and Woods to compile a modest publication illustrating the projects discussed at the meeting, complete with notes by the respective designers and a long introduction by Bakema. The booklet was published by Berlin University of Technology where Ungers was then a professor.
In a post-mortem of the meeting, Arthur Glikson referred to two alternative basic attitudes that were identifiable in all the projects discussed, regardless of the scale, complexity or size of each project. According to Glikson some of the projects were marked by a kind of ‘understatement’ which involved ‘relegating the major decisions on the shape of things to the future’ without a clearly fixed formal structure that would predetermine future interventions. Glikson saw the work of the Smithsons, Woods and Wewerka as falling into this category. His clearly preferred the work of the Dutch contingent, whose recognizable formal concepts were intended to allow changes in use, albeit at the risk of over-design. This distinction was to crop up several times at Team 10 meetings, particularly in the later years, as various projects came to completion.
Team 10 members present
organized by Woods
Giancarlo De Carlo
Aldo van Eyck
Oswald Mathias Ungers