Team 10 Primer


Alison and Peter Smithson



The aim of urbanism is comprehensibility, i.e. clarity of organisation.  The community is by definition a comprehensible thing.  And comprehensibility should therefore be a characteristic of the parts.

In general, those town-building techniques that can make the community more comprehensible are:

1.     To develop the road and communication systems as the urban infrastructure.  (Motorways as a unifying force).  And to realise the implication of flow and movement in the architecture itself.

2.     To accept the dispersal implied in the concept of mobility and to re-think accepted density patterns and location of functions in relation to the new means of communication. 

3.     To understand and use the possibilities offered by a ‘throw-away’ technology, to create a new sort of environment with different cycles of change for different functions.

4.     To develop an aesthetic appropriate to mechanised building techniques and scales of operation.

5.     To overcome the ‘cultural obsolescence’ of most mass housing by finding solutions which project a genuinely twentieth-century technological image of dwelling -  comfortable, safe and not feudal.

6.     To establish conditions not detrimental to mental health and well-being.

A community should be built up from a hierarchy of associational elements and …express those various levels of association (THE HOUSE, THE DISTRICT, THE CITY).

It is important to realise that the terms used: street, district, etc., are not to be taken as the reality, but as the idea, and that it is our task to find new equivalents for these forms of house-groupings, streets, squares, greens, etc., as the social reality they presented no longer exists.

In the complex of associations that is a community, social cohesion can only be achieved if ease of movement is possible, and this provides us with our second law, that height (density) should increase as the total population increases, and vice versa.   In the context of a large city with high buildings, in order to keep ease of movement, we propose a multi-level city with residential ‘streets-in-the-air’.  These are linked together in a multi-level continuous complex, connected where necessary to work places and to those ground elements that are necessary at each level of association.  Our hierarchy of associations is woven into a modulated continuum representing the true complexity of human associations.  

This conception is in direct opposition to the arbitrary isolation of the so-called communities of the ‘Unité’ and the ‘neighbourhood’.

We are of the opinion that such a hierarchy of human associations should replace the functional hierarchy of the ‘Charte d’Athenes’.  



Extract. First published in Architectural Design, December 1962




TWELVE CAUTIONARY TALES by Gian Piero Frassinelli