International Workshop

Constantinos Doxiadis and the Evolution of Concepts and Practice for Low Income Housing: From Reconstruction To Self-Help By Way Of Slum Clearance
Abstract for the Athens Conference On Doxiadis And The Post World War II Planning Context, December 2006 Anna Hardman
This traces the evolution of concepts of housing, low income housing, and housing policy in the early post-colonial era of the 1950's and 60's. The paper looks at how urban housing policies changed as they were applied by designers, scholars, politicians and officials engaged in planning for urban settlements in developing countries. It explores roots of those policies in post World War II reconstruction and rural development programs .

Constantinos Doxiadis was an early proponent of planning as a global activity. His planning work began in Greece in the immediate aftermath of World War II and the country's civil war. Over the next twenty five years the firm he headed became one of the first global planning enterprises, working in over fourty countries (Bromley, 2003; Beauregard, 2005). He and his firm then contributed both to the design of new cities in nations emerging from the colonial era in the 1950's. The new cities and neighborhoods his firm planned (or tried to plan) now shelter hundreds of thousands if not millions of households.

Doxiadis, an innovator as well as an entrepreneurial planner, coined the word 'ekistics' to describe the principles he identified as guiding his and his firm's work. The concept of ekistics ('the science of human settlements') was grounded in concepts of community far removed from Corbusiers's modernism and arguably embracing precursors of today's sustainability (Pyla, 2004). He was an advocate of inter-disciplinary work and implemented 'networking' long before it became a catchword of social his summer Delos Symposia that brought together contemporaries such as Margaret Mead, Barbara Ward, Buckminster Fuller, and Arnold Toynbee (Sarkis, 1998; Bromley, 2003).

The paper is grounded in research on the extensive documentation in the Doxiadis archive in Athens. It will trace the evolution of Doxiadis's ideas and of housing policy in a period of signal change: as Harris (2003) notes, the ideas that John F.C.Turner brought to the fore in the early 1970's about self help and the importance of informal sector housing had their origins in earlier ideas of Jacob Crane, Charles Abrams and others working on housing in poor countries earlier in the post war era. Crane was acquainted with Constantinos Doxiadis and became a senior consultant for Doxiadis's firm in 1955. The archive also records interactions between Doxiadis and Turner and between Doxiadis and Abrams. It is also noteworthy that quite early in his career Doxiadis worked on post both urban and rural areas; in many developing countries in the post-colonial era 'reconstruction' was a term used to denote ministries and offices responsible for housing and planning.

Doxiadis's career parallels the evolution of housing policies for both developing and developed countries. The quarter century between 1945 and 1970 was one during which the world experienced major political, economic and social transformation. European cities were devastated by the war. Replacing housing lost was an early priority and planning policies developed in that context were exported to colonies and then to former colonies. Both suburbanization and planned interventions to renew existing city centers changed - and in some cases transformed - both US and European metropolitan areas. Cities in much of the developing world started to grow at an accelerating rate while most public policies still focused on rural development. Planned housing provision in the Latin American cities that were among the first to grow was overwhelmed by less formal self-provision of shelter on the urban periphery. By the early 1970's, Europe had largely recovered from the destruction of World War II. The World Bank started to commit resources to urban development while planners drew attention to the contributions of the unregulated informal sector in the urban economy and in housing the urban poor in developing countries. John Turner and others were attracting interest in their portrayal of self-provision of housing as a positive not a negative feature of the housing sector in third world cities.

Beauregard, Robert A. 2005 "Writing Transnational Histories" Review Essay. Journal of Planning History Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 392-402.

Bromley, Ray. 2003. "Towards Global Human Settlements: Constantinos Doxiadis as entrepreneur, Coalition-Builder and Visionary" in Urbanism Imported or Exported? Ed. Joe Nasr and Mercedes Volait. Wiley: Chichester and New York. Doxiadis Archive

Harris, Richard. 2003. "A Double Irony: The Originality And Influence Of John F.C. Turner" Habitat International

Ladas, Diana. 1978. "Rural House Types for Greece, 1948-1977" Ekistics Vol 45 No 287, pp. 70-71.

Pyla ,Panayiota 2002. "Ekistics, Architecture, and Environmental Politics, 1945- 1976: A Prehistory of Sustainable Development" PhD Thesis, MIT

Sarkis, Hashim. 1998. "Dances with Margaret Mead: Planning Beirut since 1958" in Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of the Modern City ed. Peter G. Rowe and Hashim Sarkis, Prestel, Munich.

Sarkis, Hashim. Circa 1958: Lebanon in the Pictures and Plans of Constantinos Doxiadis, foreword by Roger Owen, (Beirut: Dar An-Nahar, 2003)

Turner John F.C. (1976). "Approaches to government- sponsored housing". Ekistics, 242, January 1976: 4-7.