INTRODUCTION: Legacy and Action
The 20th century abounds with manifestos in which the term "architecture as a social art" is variously voiced. Among the many propositions that command our attention are the concepts and buildings of architects associated with the International Congress of Modern Architecture (CIAM), founded in 1928. At the fourth congress, held in 1933, the group conceived of the Athens Charter, a document that adopted a conception of modern architecture and urban planning, in functional terms, which were unique and provocative.
In 1950, following the Second World War (1939-45), some younger CIAM members envisioned other ways of considering the role of building within the context of urban design. They established themselves as Team X (Ten), but now independent of CIAM, and with a new agenda. Team X argued for a fresh appreciation of architecture in general, and particularly within the social life of cities, in light of the destructive war years and the monumental task of rebuilding European cities. Aldo Van Eyck was a founding member of Team X, and perhaps its most persuasive spokesperson.
Since the late 1960s, Architects, Designers, Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) in the United States, has extended the concept of architecture as a social art to include the other environmental professionals who, ideally, work as partners in the construction of the built environment.
In the United States and Canada, a parallel effort is that now undertaken in the realms of community design, nonprofit practice, and community design-build projects as promoted by the Association for Community Design (ACD) and most recently by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture's (ACSA) Architecture in Society Initiative.
The Street Mediates Between Public and Private Lives
Considering what has been, and contemplating what might be, what principles and objectives should guide architects committed to the concept that architecture is a social art?