The installation also referred to the many self-built shelters that were part of the urban fabric in the early years after WWII, even in cities like London or Paris. Moreover, the Smithons had been participants of the 9th CIAM Congress and witnessed the discussions around the urban projects in Morocco and Algeria in which analysis of the houses by slum dwellers was the center of interest. These studies marked a shift in post-war modern building approaches as the self-built environments of the shantytown dwellers were presented as a teaching model to understand the interrelation of the public and the private. The Moroccan bidonvilles studies of the Gamma Group for the 9th CIAM Congress generated in Casablanca had results in new building programs. The 8x8 modernist patio house grid developed in Casablanca by Michael Ecochard was based on a European analysis of Moroccan habitats and on the concept of the U.S. neighborhood unit and therefore included streets and infrastructure. A single patio house in this grid consisted of two or three rooms and a patio. Using a variety of combinations, it was designed to be flexible enough to eventually accommodate the creation of other types of housing (individual or collective), states the architectural historian Catherine Blain. The patio house allowed the possibility to “grow” through usage. This modernist patio house model applied by the French Protectorate in Morocco proved its capacity for constructing “different types of housing corresponding to different standards of living” like in Rabat (Yacoub El Mansour district), Port-Lyautey (cleaning up a slum), Casablanca (Ain Chock, Carrieres Centrales, Ben M’sik district).
The reference to both the modernist pavilion and the patio in the title of the 1956b Whitechapel installation of Alison and Peter Smithsons thus represents an emerging discourse of the mid fifties. The courtyard or patio house was also an important planning issue in the new town planning of Chandigarh in India. On the one hand argued as a sanitary tool for bringing fresh air in the house, on the other hand as a culturally specific typically ‘Indian’social space. Patio structures were also very common in the urban planning of the Middle East, such as in Israel’s Development Towns that were built in the late 50s and early 60s. The Israeli modernist patio houses again suggested a regional and climate sensitive approach, a situated modernism, as Alona Nitzan-Shiftan describes it. A famous housing project in Be’er Sheva called "The Carpet Neighborhood” also known as the “Model Neighborhood” consists in part of a patio grid structure similar to the Casablanca patio grid. One important architect and planner here was Nahum Zolotov. He was part of the steering committee for the Model Neighborhood in Be’er Sheva and responsible, along with Daniel Havkin, for planning and building the Carpet settlement. Artur Glikson and Ariel Sharon articulated important conceptual ideas on these model programs, as they were involved in the international debates around the concept of “Habitat” and the discourse around vernacular modernism. Also when Margarete Schütte Lihotzky traveled to China in 1956, she did an in depth study of the traditional courtyard houses, the Siheyuan. One year later her architect friend Werner Hebebrand published a proposal for a new model housing settlement based on the traditional yards in the German Werkbund magazine. That same year the national housing competition in China marked a shift away from the Soviet model of multi-storied row housing and a conscious shift towards local conditions. (MvO / MH /CL)
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