Toulouse (France) 9-12 April 1971
Changing conditions I: questioning the welfare state
Ten years after Candilis-Josic-Woods won the competition to design the new city extension of Toulouse-Le Mirail, the members of Team 10 met in Toulouse to view the first phase of this substantial project. It was ‘a suitable moment for an assessment of effectiveness and the limitations of Team 10’s ideas as realised and used’, the Smithsons suggested, while restating — as was their custom — the theme to which the meeting was dedicated:
The meeting might revolve around the theme of REPETITION:
— e.g how is it that just when we can most easily make things in large numbers we have lost the secret of repetition as a formal technique?
— How is it that in general the industrialisation of house building has not produced quality in the sense of being well made?
— Are there any signs of the limits of systems which use repetition even if we could recover the formal secrets and win a more adequate building reality?
— And so on.
Toulouse-Le Mirail was not the only large-scale project involving housing that
reached realization in this period. In 1972, after ten years of planning, the
projects Leeuwarden North and ’t Hool by Bakema’s office (Van den
Broek and Bakema architects) arrived at a similar juncture, and the Smithsons’
housing complex Robin Hood Gardens was completed that same year. They were all
projects for which the seeds had been sown in the 1950s as critical notes in
the discussions on post-war reconstruction. The realization of these ideas took
place during the late 1960s, in a period when the designers were experiencing
the contradictions of building under a centralized welfare state.
Shortly before the meeting, these contradictions were once again underscored in a letter from Candilis announcing his resignation from the Toulouse-Le Mirail project after ten years as the responsible architect. This had been prompted by the outcome of a municipal election in the city that forced the present mayor, Louis Bazerque, to give way to a conservative team who strongly opposed continuation of the project. Candilis accordingly proposed discussing the ‘problems of our position towards political changing conditions in the context we work on’. Candilis concluded his letter by stating, ‘a substantial part for 20,000 people is finished or under completion. It will allow us to make objective critics and to analyse the effectiveness of this experience. I think it is a unique chance for all of us to look over today’s problems in their brutality and complexity, in order to stand in a firm position. It is also an opportunity for Team 10 to fulfill its purpose. We need you all in this critical period.’
The contradiction had already been apparent during a small interim meeting held at the London home of the Smithsons in 1969. According to Bakema’s minutes, the meeting was mainly about participation and the associated concept of ‘open design’. The interim meeting may be regarded as a preparation for Toulouse, but, alongside the typically centralistic welfare state projects like Leeuwarden North and the recreational villages Candilis built in the South of France, it was here that De Carlo, Erskine and Bakema himself presented their first participation models for residential districts in Rimini, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Hamburg-Mümmelmannsberg respectively. Candilis and Soltan also offered proposals for alternative forms of architectural education and for ways of accommodating them.
This reappraisal of the discipline’s social position was closely related to the critique that was increasingly being voiced about the functioning of architects and the results of their efforts. Team 10 members were increasingly confronted with this climate of criticism in various forms, despite the fact that, considering their own background, they often opted for solidarity with the protesters. Milan 1968 was not the only occasion when Team 10’s ambivalent position resulted in confrontation. Candilis, for example, encountered similar criticisms during the uprising of May 1968 in France, where, as a professor of architecture at the École des Beaux Arts, he could only look on in dismay when the school was closed down. Bakema and Van Eyck too, as professors at the Delft University of Technology, were censured for ‘acting as lackeys of capitalism’ even after they had themselves actively contributed to the democratization of decision-taking in the Architecture Faculty.
It is against this background that the participants assembled again at the main meeting in Toulouse, after a break of five years since Urbino. All the core members were present along with spouses and children. The archives contain little documentation of the meeting in Toulouse. Not even a list of participants has survived, and little is known about the projects presented and discussed apart from those already mentioned. It may be gathered from a group photo and other photos taken by Peter Smithson that, apart from a few staff members of Candilis’s firm, only those who had attended earlier and, especially, those who would continue to attend in subsequent years, were present. An exception was the presence of Kenzo Tange, who attended for the first — and last — time since Otterlo. From here onwards Team 10 appears to have attained its final form as a family reunion.
Team 10 members present
organized by Candilis
José Antonio Coderch
Giancarlo De Carlo
Aldo van Eyck
Oswald Mathias Ungers