Alison and Peter Smithson and their Travels to Greece: The Search for an Open-ended Morphology
- Book Chapter
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The chapter examines to what extent Alison and Peter Smithson’s approach to architecture and urban design were influenced by their travels to Greece. The aforementioned architects admired the social spontaneity of the traditional Greek villages and the fortification walls and believed that in them one can find a response against the rigidness to the functionalist doctrine that many architects of the early CIAM generation supported. During the last CIAM congress in Otterlo in the Netherlands in 1959, Peter Smithson introduced his presentation with slides of his journeys to Greek coastal villages. He was especially interested in the relationship between the aggregation of Greek villages and the social and cultural patterns of quotidian life of their inhabitants. The chapter examines how the concept of “cluster city” in the work and thought of Alison and Peter Smithson is related to the impact that their encounter with the forms of the Greek villages had on their design approaches. Special attention is paid to analysing how the continuity between streets and houses characterising the traditional Greek villages is related to the main ideas behind the “Urban Reidentification” grid presented during the ninth CIAM. Departing from Peter Smithson’s remark that “[o]ne of the observations [they] […] made in Greece was whether, in the formulation of the defensive walls, there was any relationship between the wall geometry and the street geometry”, the chapter presents how the study of their writings on Greece, as well as of their photographs and sketches made during their stays in Greece exemplifies that they were interested in simultaneously exploring the relation between architecture and territory and the capacities of morphology. Particular emphasis is placed on the analysis of two articles by Peter Smithson: “Space and Greek Architecture”, published in The Listener in October 1958, and “Theories Concerning the Layout of Classical Greek Buildings”, published in Architectural Association journal in February 1959. Alison and Peter Smithson’s thought and practice are characterised by the intention to investigate the following three fields simultaneously: firstly, the relationship between architecture and territory; secondly, morphology and its “open-endedness”; and, thirdly, the relationship between the social and the spatial dimension of architecture and urban design. Show more
External linksSearch print copy at ETH Library
Book titleViaggi e viste. Mediterraneo e modernità
Journal / seriesQuaderni
Pages / Article No.
Subjecttravel; Mediterranean; history and theory of architecture; history and theory of unban design
Organisational unit09643 - Avermaete, Tom / Avermaete, Tom
02655 - Netzwerk Stadt und Landschaft D-ARCH
Related publications and datasets
Notesalternate book title 'Travels and Views. Towards a Mediterranean Rationalism of the 20th Century'
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