This lecture by Tom Avermaete, professor at ETH, is an attempt to reassess the rich conceptual and formal apparatus of modernist public space that was developed in housing estates during the heydays of the French welfare state. The lecture is presented by the research project Spaces of Danish Welfare as part of the international conference Spaces of Welfare.
It will take as its point of departure the theory of French landscape architect Jacques Sgard, who introduced in 1958 the idea that the post-war modern city did not only consists of the 4 CIAM functions (dwelling, work, recreation and transport) but also encompassed a fifth function: the green space function (la fonction espace vert).
Sgard pointed with his fifth function to an important new feature of the numerous new housing estates (grands ensembles), designed by landscape architects as Jacques Simon, Michel Corajoud and Bernard Lassus, but also by architects and urban designers as Michel Ecochard, Fernand Pouillon and Candilis-Josic-Woods.
In this lecture Tom Avermaete will illustrate that in postwar housing estates by these designers new notions and ‘landscape forms’ of public space emerged that were informed by three main considerations: identification and participation of inhabitants with their dwelling environment, the democratic appropriation of public space and the role of open space –considered as a productive landscape— as basis for autarky.
He will start to suggest a more precise theoretical framework to qualify this newfangled landscape architecture of modern public space in post-war French housing estates.