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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Material
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Records of the CIAM Belgian Section
    Date (inclusive): 1928-1958
    Date (bulk): 1934-1958
    Collection number: 850865
    Creator: International Congress for Modern Architecture. Belgian Section.
    Extent: ca. 6 linear ft. (12 boxes, 1 flatfile)
    Repository: Getty Research Institute
    Research Library
    Special Collections and Visual Resources
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, CA 90040-1688
    Abstract: Records of the CIAM Belgian section comprise the records of Paul Fitschy, Liège-based secretary of the Belgian Section of the International Congress for Modern Architecture (Congrès internationaux d’architecture moderne), as well as some CIAM-related documents obtained in separate acquisitions. Included are correspondence and documents generated by the Belgian section itself, the central CIAM secretariat in Switzerland, and associated CIAM national sections. The records reflect CIAM’s development as an international organism, devoted to discussion and promotion of modern architecture and city planning. The CIAM congresses, particularly those from 1937 to 1956, are well documented, as are the day-to-day operations of the Belgian section.
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    Language: Collection material in English

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Records of the CIAM Belgian section, 1928-1954, bulk 1934-1958, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 850865.

    Acquisition Information

    Compiled by the repository through multiple acquisitions, 1984-1993. Numbers in brackets (i.e. [#1]) identify items from the 1993 acquisition.

    Related Material

    L'Equerre Records, 1928-1960, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accn. no. 850864.

    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.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Records of the CIAM Belgian Section comprise the records of Paul Fitschy, Liège-based secretary of the Belgian section of the International Congress for Modern Architecture (Congrès internationaux d’architecture moderne), as well as some CIAM-related documents obtained in separate acquisitions. Included are records generated by the Belgian section itself, the central CIAM secretariat in Switzerland, and associated CIAM national sections, especially those of Switzerland, Belgium, France (principally ASCORAL), Britain (MARS Group), and the Netherlands (8 and Opbouw). The records reflect CIAM’s development as an international organism devoted to discussion and promotion of modern or "rational" solutions to architectural and city planning problems. The day-to-day operations of the Belgian section, an active national group within CIAM, are also recorded. Principal correspondents include Victor Bourgeois, Sigfried Giedion, L. H. de Koninck, Huib Hoste, Gaston Eysselinck, Cornelis Van Eesteren, and J. B. Bakema; some items from Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier are also preserved.
    The collection contains ca. 1250 items, including approximately 810 letters (Series I), 36 handwritten notes, predominantly by Fitschy (Series II), 375 documents (Series III), and 29 oversized items (Series IV). Among its items are meeting minutes, memoranda, programs, reports, questionnaires, book proposals, brochures and other ephemera, rosters and exhibition materials, including city planning documents. Notable are the several examples of CIAM grids or "grilles", developed by Le Corbusier in 1948 and promoted extensively by CIAM as a chart-based city planning tool, as well as documents and handouts that accompanied grids presented by national CIAM groups (including the Belgian section) at various congresses.
    Topics covered include preparations and results of the various CIAM congresses, predominantly CIAM V through CIAM X, as well as organization and promotion of CIAM-related publications, exhibitions and educational opportunities; of special interest are the documents of the planned CIAM VI in Liège, cancelled in 1939 at the onset of World War II. Reports, circulars and letters contained within the collection chronicle debate on issues of city planning, housing, environmental pollution, architectural education, industrialization of building techniques, legislation and land reform, social requirements, aesthetics and artistic expression, and postwar reconstruction. Also revealed are the contacts maintained with other international associations including the International Union of Architects, the International Federation for Housing and Town Planning, UNESCO and others. Among the CIAM publications discussed in the collection are Logis et loisirs (based on CIAM V, Paris); Giedion’s A decade of new architecture / Dix ans d’architecture contemporaine (based on CIAM VI, Bridgwater and CIAM VII, Bergamo); and Tyrwhitt, Sert and Rogers’s The heart of the city (based on CIAM VIII, Hoddesdon). Also mentioned are Sert’s Can our cities survive? and Le Corbusier’s La charte d’Athènes, both based on CIAM IV, Athens, together with the unpublished La ville fonctionnelle / Die funktionelle Stadt, which was to have been the official CIAM IV publication.
    French is the principal language of the materials. German was used by CIAM as a second language before World War II, and English afterwards; several items are in Dutch or Flemish. The practice of using Roman rather than Arabic numerals, evidenced in the majority of documents in this collection, has been followed throughout the finding aid; thus documents entitled "CIAM 9" have been rendered "CIAM IX" in order to facilitate keyword searching.


    Indexing Terms

    Subjects: Personal Names

    Bakema, J. B. (Jacob Berend), 1914-1981
    Bourgeois, Victor, 1897-1962
    Eesteren, Cornelis van, 1897-1988
    Fitschy, Paul
    Giedion, S. (Sigfried), 1888-1968
    Hoste, Huib
    Koninck, L. H. de (Louis Herman), 1896-
    Le Corbusier, 1887-1965
    Sert, José Luis, 1902-
    Tyrwhitt, Jaqueline
    Wogenscky, André, 1916-

    Subjects: Organizations

    International Congress for Modern Architecture. Belgian Section.
    Comité international pour la réalisation des problèmes d'architecture contemporaine
    Team 10

    Subjects: Congresses

    International Congress for Modern Architecture (1st : 1928 : La Sarraz, Switzerland)
    International Congress for Modern Architecture (2nd : 1929 : Frankfurt am Main, Germany)
    International Congress for Modern Architecture (3rd : 1930 : Brussels, Belgium)
    International Congress for Modern Architecture (4th : 1933 : Athens, Greece)
    International Congress for Modern Architecture (5th : 1937 : Paris, France)
    International Congress for Modern Architecture (6th : 1947 : Bridgwater, England)
    International Congress for Modern Architecture (7th : 1949 : Bergamo, Italy)
    International Congress for Modern Architecture (8th : 1951 : Hoddesdon, England)
    International Congress for Modern Architecture (9th : 1953 : Aix-en-Provence, France)
    International Congress for Modern Architecture (10th : 1956 : Dubrovnik, Croatia)

    Subjects: Topics

    Apartment houses—France—Marseille—Designs and plans
    Architecture, Modern—20th century—Congresses
    City planners—Europe—Correspondence
    City planning—History—20th century—Congresses
    Functionalism (Architecture)—Congresses
    Housing—History—20th century—Congresses
    International style (Architecture)—Congresses
    Modern movement (Architecture)—Congresses
    Planned communities—Belgium—Designs and plans
    Rationalism (Architecture)—Congresses
    Unité d'habitation (Marseille, France)—Designs and plans
    Flémalle-Haute (Belgium)—Maps
    Marseille (France)—Buildings, structures, etc
    Marseille (France)—Maps

    Genres and Forms of Materials

    Blueline prints
    Business letters
    Financial statements
    Letters (correspondence)
    Papers (document genres)
    Plans (maps)
    Site plans

    Contributors: Personal Names

    Albini, Franco
    Aujame, Roger
    Bakema, J. B. (Jacob Berend), 1914-1981
    Bézard, Norbert
    Bierbauer, Virgile
    Bill, Max, 1908-
    Bloc, André
    Bodiansky, Vladimir, 1894-1966
    Bontridder, Albert
    Bourgeois, Victor, 1897-1962
    Braem, Renaat
    Brodzki, Constantin
    Bush, Alfred
    Bush, Gertrude
    Candilis, Georges
    Carlier, Charles
    Coates, Wells, 1895-1958
    Collins, James
    Delatte, Eugène
    Didesch, Marius
    Dunnett, Trevor
    Ecochard, Michel
    Eesteren, Cornelis van, 1897-1988
    Eggericx, Jean-Jules, 1884-1963
    Emery, Pierre-André
    Eyck, Aldo van, 1918-
    Eysselinck, Gaston, 1907-1953
    Falise, Ivon
    Faure, Jean-Pierre
    Fitschy, Paul
    Forbat, Fred, 1897-1972
    Fry, Maxwell, 1899-
    Gardella, Ignazio
    Gelderen, W. van
    Giedion, S. (Sigfried), 1888-1968
    Ginkel, H. P. Daniel van
    Goulden, Gontran
    Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969
    Hanekroot, Constant
    Hartland Thomas, M.
    Havenith, Eliane
    Hebebrand, Werner, 1899-1966
    Herbosch, Gustave
    Herrey, Herman
    Heymans, M. C.
    Hoffmann, Hubert, 1904-
    Honegger, J. J.
    Hoste, Huib
    Hovens Greve, Hans (H. J. A.)
    Howell, Jill
    Howell, William, 1922-1974
    Ibler, Drago, 1894-1964
    Kalivoda, František
    Keatinge-Clay, P.
    Klutz, Edgard
    Koninck, L. H. de (Louis Herman), 1896-
    Lasdun, Denys
    Le Corbusier, 1887-1965
    Lekenne, J.
    Lenoir, P.
    Ligeti, Forbat
    Lima, Viana de, 1913-
    Limperg, Koen
    Lods, Marcel
    Lonberg-Holm, Knud
    Meeren, Willy van der
    Merkelbach, Ben, 1901-1961
    Michel, Paul-Amaury
    Moser, Karl, 1860-1936
    Moser, Werner Max
    Moutschen, Joseph
    Mühll, H. R. von der
    Nicolas, J.
    Nueten, Charles van, 1899-1989
    Olsen, O.
    Oshin, Arnold
    Parent, Émile
    Pawek, Karl
    Peressutti, Enrico
    Persitz, A.
    Persitz, H.
    Pineau, L. G.
    Planer, Paul
    Quétant, Francis, 1905-1953
    Rogers, Ernesto N.
    Roth, Alfred, 1903-
    Samuel, Godfrey
    Sanders, Walter
    Schmeller, Alfred
    Schmidt, Hans, 1893-1972
    Sert, José Luis, 1902-
    Sive, André
    Smithson, Alison Margaret
    Smithson, Peter, 1923-
    Sneyers, Léon
    Soltan, Jerzy
    Sosset, Léon-Louis, 1913-
    Stam, Mart, 1899-
    Steiger, Rudolf, 1900-1982
    Stevens, Herbert H
    Stynen, Léon, 1899-1990
    Syrkus, Helena
    Syrkus, Szymon, 1893-1964
    Tołwiński, Stanisław, 1895-
    Tyrwhitt, Jaqueline
    Vauthier, Arsène Marie Paul
    Verschaeren, August
    Voelcker, John
    Vos, Herman, 1889-1952
    Winter, P.
    Wogenscky, André, 1916-
    Woods, Shadrach, 1923-1973
    Wynants, Maxime

    Contributors: Organizations

    8 (Group of architects)
    British Council (Belgium)
    Comité international pour la réalisation des problèmes d'architecture contemporaine
    L'Equerre (Firm)
    Modern Architectural Research Group
    Opbouw (Group of architects)
    Team 10


    Contribution à la charte de l'habitat : CIAM 9, Aix-en-Provence, 19-25 juillet 1953.


    These publications were consulted by the cataloger.
    CIAM, Dokumente, 1928-1939 / hrsg. von Martin Steinmann. Basel : Birkhäuser, 1979. CIAM '59 in Otterlo : Group for the Research of Social and Visual Inter-relationships / Oscar Newman ; by order of Jacob B. Bakema for the Otterlo 1959 participants. Stuttgart : K. Kramer, 1961. A decade of new architecture / edited by S. Giedion. Zürich : Girsberger, 1951. The heart of the city: towards the humanisation of urban life. Edited by J. Tyrwhitt, J. L. Sert [and] E. N. Rogers. Translations by J. Tyrwhitt. New York : Pellegrini and Cudahy, 1952. Logis et loisirs : 5e congrès CIAM. Paris : Editions de l'Architecture d'aujourd'hui, [1938]. Mumford, Eric Paul, 1958- The CIAM discourse on urbanism, 1928-1960. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2000. Sert, José Luis, 1902- Can our cities survive? An ABC of urban problems, their analysis, their solutions; based on the proposals formulated by the C. I. A. M., International Congresses for Modern Architecture, Congrès internationaux d'architecture moderne. Cambridge : Harvard University Press; London : H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1942. Team 10 meetings : 1953-1984 / edited by Alison Smithson. New York : Rizzoli, 1991.