International Workshop

The Archive of Ekistics
M. Christine Boyer (Princeton)
Constantinos A. Doxiadis told a story about his student days at the Technical University in Berlin when he first began digging around, looking at the past and present in order to discover the existence of the discipline and science of Human Settlements. He knew this science - which he later called Ekistics --- was not a new invention for it probably began ten thousand years earlier when 'Anthropos' first started to think and organize his Human Settlements. Doxiadis discovered a void for sadly knowledge of this science no longer existed, and for several generations this lack had caused mankind to make so many mistakes and suffer so much inside the modern system of Human Settlements.

For Doxiadis, the first modern test of Ekistics began in 1945, when he and others made plans and programs for Greece's postwar reconstruction, The second test came in 1951, when no longer Minister in charge of Reconstruction and Development, he and his group of planners, now calling themselves Doxiadis Associates, were invited to offer advice to other countries and began to apply Ekistics to other areas and to other types of problems. They quickly discovered the need to communicate with many people on the subject of Ekistics in order to apply the science properly.

Referring back to his student days, Doxiadis recalled that he used to spend every Saturday in the library of the School of Planning, reading all the new publications in that demanding field. He linked this experience to his decision in 1955 to have a group scan the rapidly expanding literature in the field of Human Settlements and select those of greater interest to Doxiadis Associates and present them in digested form. Thus the magazine Ekistics in its first form was born as the Monthly Bulletin of Tropical Housing and Planning. It was a private mimeographed magazine available to only a few tens of experts and to maintain objectivity an outsider, not a staff member of Doxiadis Associates, was selected to be editor: the professor of city planning at Harvard's School of Design Jacqueline Tyrwhitt. Soon UN experts were requesting copies of the magazine, and others interested in the field as well, so Ekistics evolved into a printed magazine covering more topics and involving more contributors, collaborators and authors. Ten years after its inauguration, the magazine had become "a vehicle of communication between people of many professions in the 94 countries in which it circulates."

This paper will explore what was meant by 'vehicle of communication' focusing on three specific aspects of the magazine's endeavors: the development of a classification system and the creation of the Ekistics grid, proposals for an Archive on Cities, and the impact of computers and systems analysis on the pattern of Human Settlements as evidenced in articles appearing in Ekistics in the mid 1960s and early 1970s. In all three areas focus is placed on how things were put in order, or the organizational and classificatory methods deployed, and on the development of a cross-referencing topology as the guardian, interpreter and gatherer of knowledge that in its wake had the effect of constructing the science of Ekistics.