International Congress for Modern Architecture. Belgian Section.

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Administrative History

The International Congress for Modern Architecture (Congrès internationaux d’architecture moderne, or CIAM) was an influential association of modern architects and city planners united in a search for solutions to the problems of urban areas. Founded in 1928 at the Château de La Sarraz, Switzerland by Le Corbusier, Sigfried Giedion and architectural patroness Hélène de Mandrot, CIAM served for several decades as the organizational center of the modern movement in architecture. Between 1928 and 1957, CIAM organized a series of ten formal congresses and additional CIAM council or CIRPAC meetings under the directorship of its CIRPAC committee (Comité international pour la réalisation des problèmes d'architecture contemporaine), together with an eleventh congress in 1959 under reformulated directorship. These meetings provided a professional forum for debating and disseminating theoretical, aesthetic and technical developments and achievements in the field of modern architecture and city planning.

Although Belgian participation in CIAM dated from the first La Sarraz conference, the Belgian section secretariat was formed in 1934, through the collaboration of the Groupe L’Equerre (meaning "square", an architectural drafting tool) and Victor Bourgeois, a founding CIAM member who had distinguished himself with the presentation of his housing complex La Cité Moderne at CIAM III, Brussels, 1930. L’Equerre was composed of five Liège-based architects - Paul Fitschy, Ivon Falise, Edgard Klutz, Émile Parent and A. Tibaux - who had met ca. 1928 during their architectural studies at the Académie de Liège (presumably the Académie royale des beaux-arts de Liège), and who at the time of their joining CIAM were editing a journal, called L’Equerre, which championed the cause of modern architecture and city planning (see related collection: L'Equerre; Records, 1928-1960; accn. no. 850864). Other notable modern architects including Huib Hoste (a founding CIAM member along with Bourgeois), L. H. de Koninck, Gaston Eysselinck and Renaat Braem augmented the section membership. The Belgian section secretariat was located in the offices of L’Equerre; Fitschy served as secretary, Bourgeois as section president and first delegate, and De Koninck as second delegate. In 1937 the Belgian section proposed two contributions to CIAM V in Paris: Hoste’s urban development plan for the right bank of the Scheldt in Antwerp, and Bourgeois’s survey of Charleroi; additionally, Fitschy and Braem participated in the 2nd CIAM commission, "Cas d'application des villes". In 1938, at the behest of CIRPAC, the section was split into three geographic subdivisions - one each for Brussels, Antwerp and Liège - to work independently under Belgian section leadership. The Belgian section, and particularly the Liège group headed by L’Equerre, worked in earnest to prepare a proposed CIAM VI in Liège, which would have taken place in September of 1939, concurrently with the "Exposition internationale de l’eau", held to mark the 30 July 1939 opening of the Albert Canal, linking Liège with Antwerp and the North Sea. This opportunity to promote Liège in the wider architectural community was shattered, however, by the cancellation of that year’s congress at the start of World War II (see Box 6).

The section remained inactive throughout the war, but revived with the announcement of CIAM VI in Bridgwater, planned for 1947. Troubles beset the Belgian section’s preparations for this congress, which only one Belgian member attended. In view of his absence, Bourgeois was dismissed by CIRPAC as first Belgian delegate, to be replaced by Fitschy; Léon Stynen later took on the role of second Belgian delegate. Bourgeois’s subsequent resignation from CIAM placed Fitschy in an even more responsible role towards Belgian section activities, a role he had hoped would be minimized with the 1948 reorganization of the Brussels, Antwerp and Liège sections into independent groups responsible directly to CIAM. Additionally, the group’s decision to expel several members (among them Hoste and Falise) for suspected or proven Nazi sympathies and collaboration led to a lengthy contention with Hoste, who pressed insistently but unsuccessfully for readmission. Also during this period, the Belgian section began encouraging the involvement of a younger generation of architects and offering educational opportunities to students still in the course of their architectural studies, a directive then being instituted on a CIAM-wide basis.

Fitschy’s hopes that the reorganization would result in a revitalization of the section were not fulfilled, and in April of 1951 he formally renounced responsibility for Belgian section activities, thereafter devoting his energies to the Liège section, which had been joined by the Groupes EGAU and Planning. Stynen was to undertake responsibilities for the independent Brussels-Antwerp section. Notwithstanding Fitschy’s decision, born of frustration at the perceived lack of energy and responsiveness in the section, several Belgian grids, or city planning project charts, were presented at subsequent CIAM conferences. L’Equerre’s grid for the city of Flémalle-Haute (Box 8, f. 3; Box 10*, f. 7; Box 11*; Flat file folder 1**), a planned suburb west of Liège, exhibited at the 1951 CIAM VIII, Hoddesdon, was featured in the publication The heart of the city, and at least two Belgian grids, one for the "Unité d’habitation Anvers-Kiel" and one for a construction in Liège by Groupe EGAU, were presented at the 1953 CIAM IX, Aix-en-Provence (see Box 8, f. 8 for accompanying analyses).

CIAM IX also saw the emergence of Team X (Team 10), an alliance of younger architects who rejected the ideas of the old-guard CIAM, based on the 1933 Athens Charter, as too rigidly mechanistic or functionalist. Team X sought instead to explore human associations within an environment, and felt moreover that CIAM had grown too large, with loss of its original vigor. After formalizing its agenda in a meeting in Doorn in January of 1954, Team X was invited at the 1954 Paris CIRPAC meeting to set the agenda for the 1956 CIAM X in Dubrovnik, with J. B. Bakema as acting secretary. The experiences at Dubrovnik hardened the rift between the two factions, and a debate ensued over whether to dissolve or reorganize CIAM. Reorganization was chosen, and in 1957 at La Sarraz CIAM was renamed "CIAM: Research Group for Social and Visual Relationships (CIAM: Groupe de recherches pour les interrelations sociales et plastiques)" with new statutes, the abolition of all national groups, and a severely restricted membership. The archive of Belgian section records ends at this time. CIAM XI, which took place in Otterlo in 1959, featured the work of 43 selected architects including Belgians Willy van der Meeren and Peter Callebout, whose work is not represented in this collection. This final congress ended with a decision to dissolve CIAM definitively.

From the guide to the Records of the CIAM Belgian Section, 1928-1958, 1934-1958, (Getty Research Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith 8 (Group of architects) corporateBody
associatedWith Albini, Franco person
associatedWith ASCORAL corporateBody
associatedWith Aujame, Roger person
associatedWith Bakema, J. B. (Jacob Berend), 1914-1981 person
associatedWith Bézard, Norbert person
associatedWith Bierbauer, Virgile person
associatedWith Bill, Max, 1908- person
associatedWith Bloc, André person
associatedWith Bodiansky, Vladimir, 1894-1966 person
associatedWith Bontridder, Albert person
associatedWith Bourgeois, Victor, 1897-1962 person
associatedWith Braem, Renaat person
associatedWith British Council (Belgium) corporateBody
associatedWith Brodzki, Constantin person
associatedWith Bush, Alfred person
associatedWith Bush, Gertrude person
associatedWith Candilis, Georges person
associatedWith Carlier, Charles person
associatedWith Coates, Wells, 1895-1958 person
associatedWith Collins, James person
associatedWith Comité international pour la réalisation des problèmes d'architecture contemporaine corporateBody
associatedWith Delatte, Eugène person
associatedWith Didesch, Marius person
associatedWith Dunnett, Trevor person
associatedWith Ecochard, Michel person
associatedWith Eesteren, Cornelis van, 1897-1988 person
associatedWith Eggericx, Jean-Jules, 1884-1963 person
associatedWith Emery, Pierre-André person
associatedWith Eyck, Aldo van, 1918- person
associatedWith Eysselinck, Gaston, 1907-1953 person
associatedWith Falise, Ivon person
associatedWith Faure, Jean-Pierre person
associatedWith Fitschy, Paul person
associatedWith Forbat, Fred, 1897-1972 person
associatedWith Fry, Maxwell, 1899- person
associatedWith Gardella, Ignazio person
associatedWith Gelderen, W. van person
associatedWith Giedion, S. (Sigfried), 1888-1968 person
associatedWith Ginkel, H. P. Daniel van person
associatedWith Goulden, Gontran person
associatedWith Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969 person
associatedWith Hanekroot, Constant person
associatedWith Hartland Thomas, M. person
associatedWith Havenith, Eliane person
associatedWith Hebebrand, Werner, 1899-1966 person
associatedWith Herbosch, Gustave person
associatedWith Herrey, Herman person
associatedWith Heymans, M. C. person
associatedWith Hoffmann, Hubert, 1904- person
associatedWith Honegger, J. J. person
associatedWith Hoste, Huib person
associatedWith Hovens Greve, Hans (H. J. A.) person
associatedWith Howell, Jill person
associatedWith Howell, William, 1922-1974 person
associatedWith Ibler, Drago, 1894-1964 person
associatedWith International Congress for Modern Architecture. corporateBody
associatedWith International Congress for Modern Architecture (10th : 1956 : Dubrovnik, Croatia) corporateBody
associatedWith International Congress for Modern Architecture (1st : 1928 : La Sarraz, Switzerland) corporateBody
associatedWith International Congress for Modern Architecture (2nd : 1929 : Frankfurt am Main, Germany) corporateBody
associatedWith International Congress for Modern Architecture (3rd : 1930 : Brussels, Belgium) corporateBody
associatedWith International Congress for Modern Architecture (4th : 1933 : Athens, Greece) corporateBody
associatedWith International Congress for Modern Architecture (5th : 1937 : Paris, France) corporateBody
associatedWith International Congress for Modern Architecture (6th : 1947 : Bridgwater, England) corporateBody
associatedWith International Congress for Modern Architecture (7th : 1949 : Bergamo, Italy) corporateBody
associatedWith International Congress for Modern Architecture (8th : 1951 : Hoddesdon, England) corporateBody
associatedWith International Congress for Modern Architecture (9th : 1953 : Aix-en-Provence, France) corporateBody
associatedWith Kalivoda, František person
associatedWith Keatinge-Clay, P. person
associatedWith Klutz, Edgard person
associatedWith Koninck, L. H. de (Louis Herman), 1896- person
associatedWith Lasdun, Denys person
associatedWith Le Corbusier, 1887-1965 person
associatedWith Lekenne, J. person
associatedWith Lenoir, P. person
associatedWith L'Equerre (Firm) corporateBody
associatedWith Ligeti, Forbat person
associatedWith Lima, Viana de, 1913- person
associatedWith Limperg, Koen person
associatedWith Lods, Marcel person
associatedWith Lonberg-Holm, Knud person
associatedWith Meeren, Willy van der person
associatedWith Merkelbach, Ben, 1901-1961 person
associatedWith Michel, Paul-Amaury person
associatedWith Modern Architectural Research Group corporateBody
associatedWith Moser, Karl, 1860-1936 person
associatedWith Moser, Werner Max person
associatedWith Moutschen, Joseph person
associatedWith Mühll, H. R. von der person
associatedWith Nicolas, J. person
associatedWith Nueten, Charles van, 1899-1989 person
associatedWith Olsen, O. person
associatedWith Opbouw (Group of architects) corporateBody
associatedWith Orsem person
associatedWith Oshin, Arnold person
associatedWith Parent, Émile person
associatedWith Pawek, Karl person
associatedWith Peressutti, Enrico person
associatedWith Persitz, A. person
associatedWith Persitz, H. person
associatedWith Pineau, L. G. person
associatedWith Planer, Paul person
associatedWith Quétant, Francis, 1905-1953 person
associatedWith Rogers, Ernesto N. person
associatedWith Roth, Alfred, 1903- person
associatedWith Samuel, Godfrey person
associatedWith Sanders, Walter person
associatedWith Schmeller, Alfred person
associatedWith Schmidt, Hans, 1893-1972 person
associatedWith Sert, José Luis, 1902- person
associatedWith Sive, André person
associatedWith Smithson, Alison Margaret person
associatedWith Smithson, Peter, 1923- person
associatedWith Sneyers, Léon person
associatedWith Soltan, Jerzy person
associatedWith Sosset, Léon-Louis, 1913- person
associatedWith Stam, Mart, 1899- person
associatedWith Steiger, Rudolf, 1900-1982 person
associatedWith Stevens, Herbert H person
associatedWith Stynen, Léon, 1899-1990 person
associatedWith Syrkus, Helena person
associatedWith Syrkus, Szymon, 1893-1964 person
associatedWith Team 10 corporateBody
associatedWith Tołwiński, Stanisław, 1895- person
associatedWith Tyrwhitt, Jaqueline person
associatedWith Vauthier, Arsène Marie Paul person
associatedWith Verschaeren, August person
associatedWith Voelcker, John person
associatedWith Vos, Herman, 1889-1952 person
associatedWith Winter, P. person
associatedWith Wissing person
associatedWith Wogenscky, André, 1916- person
associatedWith Woods, Shadrach, 1923-1973 person
associatedWith Wynants, Maxime person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Housing--History--20th century--Congresses
Unité d'habitation (Marseille, France)--Designs and plans
Apartment houses--France--Marseille--Designs and plans
Architecture, Modern--20th century--Congresses
Modern movement (Architecture)--Congresses
Marseille (France)--Maps
Flémalle--Haute (Belgium)--Maps
City planners--Europe--Correspondence
Functionalism (Architecture)--Congresses
City planning--History--20th century--Congresses
Rationalism (Architecture)--Congresses
Marseille (France)--Buildings, structures, etc
International style (Architecture)--Congresses
Planned communities--Belgium--Designs and plans

Corporate Body

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Ark ID: w6bh13fj

SNAC ID: 34628136