Urbino (Italy) 7-13 September 1966
Team 10 in crisis: to move or to stay?
In 1966 Urbino saw the first of two Team 10 meetings organized by De Carlo. His student building Collegio del Colle had just been completed and provided a perfect ambiance. The theme of the Urbino meeting was to be ‘the motor car intervention into architecture’ (as proposed by the Smithsons, Woods and De Carlo) or ‘The relationship of ›to move‹ and ›to stay‹ in the urbanization process’ (the wording suggested by Bakema). The papers in the De Carlo archive contain a very full exchange of correspondence dealing with the preparations for the meeting, with the Smithsons and Van Eyck well to the fore and Bakema and Woods playing a secondary part.
In the early months of 1966 De Carlo began to receive acceptances to his invitation. In their replies various members suggested including other people without usually giving specific reasons; at most they would say that they thought the people nominated could contribute usefully to the discussion. Some people were clearly drawing on their friendships with members to try and join the group. De Carlo himself supported some of these further invitations (Guedes, Hertzberger, Glikson), raised objections to others (Hans Hollein), and suggested some of his own (the Indian Balkrishna Doshi and three young Russian architects). In the periodical circulars he sent out, De Carlo sought to get the members to make a collegial decision about guests: but after a few months (and a few dozen letters) the whole business blew up into an insuperable issue between Van Eyck and the Smithsons, a frontal clash that De Carlo was unable to mediate because both sides stuck to their positions.
The Smithsons were the first to display a certain concern. Though they had themselves proposed Guedes, as the circle of the invitations widened they began to fear Team 10 was being turned ‘once again [into] a sort of club, such as CIAM became’. De Carlo shared their concern and urged that the meetings should not be allowed to become ‘a congress more than . . . a work reunion’. Invoking the decision taken together at the previous meeting in Berlin, the Smithsons advised De Carlo to limit invitations to people who could submit works relevant to the topic set for discussion. This was the only criterion that would not be arbitrary. On this point they became more uncompromising as the discussion became increasingly heated and above all when, in the end, the quite different attitude energetically endorsed by Van Eyck prevailed. He stigmatised what he called the ‘fanatical you’re-in-and-you’re-out spirit’, saying if it persisted Team 10 would have no future.
There was another, related point at issue: whether or not to let historians attend the meeting. The idea was curtly dismissed by the Smithsons, Woods (‘I think historians are out’) and De Carlo (‘I believe that critics are completely useless in our meetings’), who defended the original spirit of Team 10 (‘because the participation of historians would change the work character of our meetings’). Their attitude was countered by Van Eyck’s greater openness (‘this ›historian‹ question is absurd’) and he was the first to strongly support the invitation to Joseph Rykwert. Van Eyck put forward his point of view in a letter that deeply impressed De Carlo and decided the outcome of the sharp exchange of opinions: ‘Our attitude must be critical and inclusive, never intolerant and exclusive. . . . That the theme should be thus clipped is of course out of the question altogether. Those who wish and are able to deal with the theme mentioned should of course go ahead. Those who do not wish to, or are not able to, are free to contribute according to their own judgement. This is the only course we can take.’
De Carlo, worn out by the dispute told all the others he felt Van Eyck’s suggestions should be accepted, but he wrote to the Smithsons that the whole matter needed to be cleared up. However, with troubled irony he told Van Eyck that he was ‘very curious and happy about the struggle that will happen in Urbino: exclusives against inclusives’.
The struggle never took place. The Smithsons first polemically sent De Carlo a few terse lines suggesting four more names and addresses of British architects and one historian to be invited (Gowan, Nelson, Banham and Brawne).Then, they decided not to join the meeting, unaware of the attempts at dissuasion urged at the same time by Van Eyck. They simply sent a brief statement that was read at the opening of proceedings. It declared: ‘We are not a Team without an agreed start[ing] point.’
Eventually about thirty people took part. Whether or not they were a team, the proceedings were as usual very lively and intense. The detailed notes preserved among De Carlo’s papers, drafted by his young assistants, show that in the course of seven days no fewer than 25 official meetings were held, usually two in the morning, two in the afternoon and one or two in the evening. Presentations and group discussions of the projects were accompanied by the projection of short films and documentaries and on Sunday there were also field trips in Urbino and its environs. As indicated by Van Eyck, the subject was dealt with by some, approached by others, and completely evaded by yet others.
The meeting at Urbino surely marked a point of crisis in a phase of strong change. Just a few weeks before the meeting, in a letter at the beginning of August, Woods wrote as he sought to coax De Carlo out of his despondency: ‘You are wrong to feel bad about the TEAM X meeting. I think that the process of ageing is irreversible and we will have to realize this. We are turning into a group of oldsters and our meetings will increasingly become social affairs with a little work thrown in almost secretly behind the scenes. And given these conditions I’m glad you have invited so many people.’
The prophecy could hardly have proved truer. In a sheet of notes there is a reference to a ‘SECRET MEETING between members of Team X’ (in Italian in the original) at 3 p.m. on the third day. Significantly, it was immediately after a presentation by Hans Hollein, about a project of his totally unconnected with the subject of the meeting (a bank in Vienna). It is obvious that the meeting was no longer just a Team 10 meeting. It seemed that inside Team 10 there was another Team 10, even more Team 10 than the rest. A second selective and secret meeting was held later, on the last evening, before the closing day. Indeed, the Urbino event had become a ‘social affair with a little work thrown in almost secretly behind the scenes’ — to paraphrase Woods. The group was to discuss all this, partly because of the tough attitude of the Smithsons. And, as appears from a short document that De Carlo took to Paris the following February, the discussion had already begun at Urbino. He came sharply to the point, asking whether ‘we should go on with Team X or . . . we should come to an end’.
Team 10 members present
organized by De Carlo
Giancarlo De Carlo
José Antonio Coderch
Aldo van Eyck
Charles T. Stifter
Oswald Mathias Ungers