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Power of ten.


Edited by Max Risselada & Dirk van den Heuvel. Rotterdam: NAi. 2005. [euro]69.50

Team Ten was an international association of architects that grew out of CIAM, the International Congresses which began in 1928 and were soon dominated by Le Corbusier and Giedion. By the early 1950s, this institution had become bureaucratic and moribund, and some young architects introduced as fresh blood were entrusted with the preparation of the 10th congress, hence Team Ten. They carried out their task, but they found themselves increasingly out of sympathy with the old guard, the enshrined principles of the Charter of Athens, and the whole formal apparatus. Letting CIAM die with the 11th meeting at Otterlo, they formed an organisation of their own that was less a power publicity machine than a talking shop for a group of friends. As Giancarlo De Carlo claimed: 'Our discussions were meant to help us better understand what we were doing, we didn't think we were making history. None of us ever thought what we were saying was epochmaking. In a way Team 10 was an anarchic society. There were no leaders, hierarchies, rules or programmes. Everything depended on the way things developed and the interest each of us would show'. The core figures besides De Carlo were Aldo van Eyck, Jaap Bakema, Alison and Peter Smithson, Georges Candilis and Shadrach Woods, but many others attended some of the ten or so meetings, including Stirling. St John Wilson. Howell, Alexander, Doshi, Tange, and Kurokawa: Ralph Erskine even organised one. The complete list reads almost as a Who's Who of post-war architecture, and many of the key ideas from the 1950s to the '70s were discussed if not originated there. Because the organisation was so informal, sustained until 1981 largely by Bakema's postbox, there were no precise records, and participants later even disagreed about when and where things had happened. Some also claimed that documentation by others, typically Team Ten Primer, was not fully representative. The relatively recent deaths of De Carlo, Erskine, Peter Smithson and van Eyck now consign the whole episode to history, and this book is very timely in its sincere attempt to put the whole story together. It falls into three parts: a documentation of the meetings, including presented material where it still exists and works by members visited or discussed; a series of themed critical reviews by historians; and interviews with the main figures conducted in the early 1990s by Clelia Tuscano. Here are personal exchanges, snatches of wisdom, and bold projects, edited with scholarly restraint and brought together in a handsome 370 page colour volume. Not only is this an invaluable reference source for all students of the period; it is also bedtime reading for those who knew that great gang, shared their excitement about the possibility of a social architecture, and would like to hear their inspiring voices again.
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Title Annotation:Team 10: In Search of a Utopia of the Present 1953-81
Author:Jones, Peter Blundell
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2006
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Next Article:Architecture defined.

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