Journal Issue

Views & Comments

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
March 1976
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We need a great revolution

C.A. Doxiadis wrote four books to present to the UN Conference on Human Settlements: Anthropopolis, Ecumenopolis, Entopia, and Action for Human Settlements, before he died in June 1975. This is an extract from an article by Mr. Doxiadis in the October 1975 issue of Ekistics.

We have to learn from the great mistakes. If we want to accomplish something in the field of urban planning in industrializing countries as in all other fields, we have to learn from human experience. Industrialization is something that started more than two centuries ago in a good many countries and we have a duty to learn as much as we can from it.

If we look back and consider all countries and cases, we can draw the following lessons.

Industry has solved many problems and brought about a revolution that was bound to change the fate of our world as much as the agricultural revolution which started 10,000 years ago (but which has not yet been completed because we still have hunters around).

Industry will continue to expand everywhere for many centuries to come if the steadily increasing human needs are to be satisfied. Only some deep pessimists take the line that we have to stop industry, development, and energy [consumption]; but they do not tell us how people will then be able to meet their very naturally increasing needs. Industry is bound to increase enormously no matter what some people say.

While industry is solving a good many human problems, it is, at the same time, creating a good many others, some of which are directly related to architecture and planning; and I am going to concentrate only on these problems.

In terms of architecture, industry has generated two main problems. The first is the creation of new types of building which could not be connected with those of the past, thus causing conflict between traditional architecture and industrial buildings. The second problem has arisen out of the production of new materials, like cement, and the mass production of many parts: doors, windows, walls, and roofs. The traditional solutions have thus been overlooked and the conflict between traditional and industrial architecture has assumed serious proportions.

In terms of urban development, industry has created multifold problems, beginning with air, water, and land pollution, and ending with despoliation of many land resources. A short visit to any so-called developed country is sufficient to transmit the message of this great problem.

It is high time we realized that there are no really developed countries and that so-called developed countries made the gravest mistakes in the new efforts on which they embarked. If these countries had been really developed, they would not have made such great mistakes. But they did make them and they now have to overcome them. This will take years and years. Only after this they may get close to being developed.

When we grasp these basic truths, we can start to trace a correct course for the development of architecture and urban planning in those countries which are now entering the phase of industrialization; a phase likely to last for many generations to come. The program has to be properly planned and a very clear course set. It must be based on the only realistic approach, namely, the fact that industrialization is inevitable and has first to be assisted in order to help people, and then to be controlled so that the well-known problems may be avoided.

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