Actions For Human Settlements

To implement his vision, Doxiadis embarked on many parallel and interrelated paths.

One of his strong arguments was that his theories and ideas were developed on the basis of a wealth of experience through projects and direct observation. His professional practice, Doxiadis Associates, was founded in 1951, and had influential projects in forty countries. At its peak Doxiadis Associates had 400 to 450 employees in a network of offices all over the world, including the United States (Washington, Philadelphia, Detroit). The mayor projects included Islamabad, the new capital of Pakistan (1960), the master plan of Accra-Tema, Ghana, in 1960, a housing program for Iraq with housing projects in Baghdad and other cities, study and plan for the Greater Detroit Area (196070), and housing in Eastwick, Philadelphia.

The Athens Center of Ekistics (ACE) was the research arm of the enterprise. Research started in 1959 with the initial projects the City of the Future(COF) (which later turned into the study of ecumenopolis), followed by the Human Community project (HUCO). In 1964 the project Capital of Greece was added to form the initial research program, covering three major units of the ekistic scale, namely small town, metropolis, and ecumenopolis.

The Athens Graduate School of Ekistics brought students together from all over the world to introduce them to ekistics, and with this to disseminate the ideas and principles worldwide through their future activities, projects, teaching and research. During their stay in Athens the students were also active participants in the research projects making valuable contributions from the viewpoint of their home countries. While the number of students was relatively small, the impact of ekistics is evident to the present day wherever they practice.

One of Doxiadis' most brilliantly conceived institutions was the Delos Symposia, which took place from 1963 to 1972. Doxiadis invited a group of approximately forty leaders from academia, politics, business and the professions related to human settlements to join in a cruise to the Greek islands. During the weeklong journey, the international experts discussed issues of human settlements, culminating in a joint postulation for action and further research presented in the ancient theater on the island of Delos. There could hardly have been any context more conducive to productive discourse than these cruises with visits to islands with indigenous villages, natural beauty and inspiring reminders of ancient Greek culture. After the formal and informal debates, the immersion into the local culture with eating, drinking, music and dancing served as a reminder that within the daunting problems of the future of settlements, there is at the center the human being with enjoyment of life and happiness.

The collaboration and interaction of the participants lasted well beyond the symposia. Doxiadis organized the Athens Ekistic Month at the headquarters in Athens to expand on the visit of the Delos participants and give exposure of the ekistic ideas to a wider interested public through lectures, meetings and discussion. At the third Delos Symposion in 1965, a decision was made to organize the participants and other personalities interested in the ekistic cause in the World Society for Ekistics, which was founded in 1967 and is active to the present time.

The Journal Ekistics

A most important element in the development and dissemination of the ekistic ideas was the existence of a journal. Initially Doxiadis supported a monthly bulletin to keep architects and planners in his numerous offices in developing countries informed of the relevant professional information elsewhere in the world. Mary Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, Professor at Harvard, became the first editor and directed the new journal also to the U.N. housing and development experts. The journal was called Tropical Housing and Planning Monthly Bulletin before assuming its name Ekistics: Housing and Planning Abstracts in October 1957, and its present name Ekistics: The Problems and Science of Human Settlements in January 1965. The first issue of October 1955 contained mainly reprints of articles from other journals, but over the years original articles started to dominate and give the journal a unique and highly respected position. The regular editorials and lead articles of Doxiadis himself gave a unique emphasis to the journal, and the recurring annual themes provided a reliable documentation on the development of the research and the evolution of the ekistic theory. Thus it became the major source for information on the Athens Center for Ekistics, but the articles on settlements in general set the ekistic work into the proper context. From 1978 to 1985 the journal appeared bi-monthly and from 1986 it appeared four times a year under its present editor, Panayis Psomopoulos.26

A unique feature of the journal is the use of the ekistic index. The content of each article is identified in a matrix consisting of the five ekistic elements and the ekistic logarithmic scale, which allows for precise delineation of the topic and easy comparison. Annual overviews of all the published articles give precise indications of the emphasis of the journal and identify gaps in the existence of research or in the coverage of specific areas.

It is encouraging to see how the tools and methods of ekistics, and indeed ekistics as a whole, evolved over time. Most issues of Ekistics contained a detailed explanation of the ekistic index with an invitation for suggestions for improvements. While the principle of the index remained constant over the years, there were nevertheless several changes and refinements in the terminology and the ranges of the ekistic scale. These refinements occurred parallel to the development of the anthropocosmos model, which adds more dimensions to the diagram by introducing the interaction of the five ekistic units

E lemerits

goals

policies

programmes

plans

Man

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment