In 1953 at CIAM IX in Aix-en-Provence, 1953, architects from Algeria and Morocco presented a detailed study of everyday living conditions of two bidonvilles in North Africa. The Habitat du Plus Grand Nombre grid, analyzing the Carrières Centrales Casablanca and the Mahieddine bidonville grid from Algiers, were shedding light on its informal structure and characteristic dwellings. These studies no longer presented modern urban projects, but rather analyzed the bidonvilles of Casablanca and Algiers as fabrics of social practices. The GAMMA group from Morocco caused an uproar at CIAM 9 as their study suggested that modern architects could learn from dwelling practices of a shanty town. A third grid that also attracted attention was the Urban Re-identification grid by Alison and Peter Smithson, which analyzed, in a similar fashion, daily life in the working class neighborhood of Bethnal Green in London. They underscored the importance of public spaces and aimed to explain how people identify with their environment. This understanding of the built environment through the notion of social practice caused a radical shift in the modern movement’s conception of dwelling. As a result of CIAM 9, some of the architects attending the congress drafted a statement on the concept of “habitat”. Their ideas were drawn from the field of biology and were meant to encompass patterns of living and dwelling in all of their complexity. The term “habitat” thus differed from more functionalist notions, such as that of Le Corbusier’s “machine for living”. The discussions at the 9th Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) led to a split between the younger and older generations, the latter of which were represented chiefly by Le Corbusier. The split resulted in the dissolution of CIAM. (MvO)
Baghdadi, Mustafa. “Changing Ideals in Architecture: From CIAM to Team X.” In Architectural Knowledge and Cultural Diversity, edited by William O'Reilly. Lausanne: Comportements, 1999.
Mumford, Eric. CIAM Discourse on Urbanism, 1928-1960. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000.