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Records of the CIAM Belgian Section, 1928-1958 (bulk 1934-1958)

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Finding aid for the Records of the CIAM Belgian Section, 1928-1958 (bulk 1934-1958)

Scope and Content of Collection

Records of the CIAM Belgian Section comprise the records of Paul Fitschy, Liège-based secretary of the Belgian section of the International Congress for Modern Architecture (Congrès internationaux d'architecture moderne), as well as some CIAM-related documents obtained in separate acquisitions. Included are records generated by the Belgian section itself, the central CIAM secretariat in Switzerland, and associated CIAM national sections, especially those of Switzerland, Belgium, France (principally ASCORAL), Britain (MARS Group), and the Netherlands (8 and Opbouw). The records reflect CIAM's development as an international organism devoted to discussion and promotion of modern or "rational" solutions to architectural and city planning problems. The day-to-day operations of the Belgian section, an active national group within CIAM, are also recorded. Principal correspondents include Victor Bourgeois, Sigfried Giedion, L. H. de Koninck, Huib Hoste, Gaston Eysselinck, Cornelis Van Eesteren, and J. B. Bakema; some items from Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier are also preserved.

The collection contains ca. 1250 items, including approximately 810 letters (Series I), 36 handwritten notes, predominantly by Fitschy (Series II), 375 documents (Series III), and 29 oversized items (Series IV). Among its items are meeting minutes, memoranda, programs, reports, questionnaires, book proposals, brochures and other ephemera, rosters and exhibition materials, including city planning documents. Notable are the several examples of CIAM grids or "grilles", developed by Le Corbusier in 1948 and promoted extensively by CIAM as a chart-based city planning tool, as well as documents and handouts that accompanied grids presented by national CIAM groups (including the Belgian section) at various congresses.

Topics covered include preparations and results of the various CIAM congresses, predominantly CIAM V through CIAM X, as well as organization and promotion of CIAM-related publications, exhibitions and educational opportunities; of special interest are the documents of the planned CIAM VI in Liège, cancelled in 1939 at the onset of World War II. Reports, circulars and letters contained within the collection chronicle debate on issues of city planning, housing, environmental pollution, architectural education, industrialization of building techniques, legislation and land reform, social requirements, aesthetics and artistic expression, and postwar reconstruction. Also revealed are the contacts maintained with other international associations including the International Union of Architects, the International Federation for Housing and Town Planning, UNESCO and others. Among the CIAM publications discussed in the collection are Logis et loisirs (based on CIAM V, Paris); Giedion's A decade of new architecture / Dix ans d'architecture contemporaine (based on CIAM VI, Bridgwater and CIAM VII, Bergamo); and Tyrwhitt, Sert and Rogers's The heart of the city (based on CIAM VIII, Hoddesdon). Also mentioned are Sert's Can our cities survive? and Le Corbusier's La charte d'Athènes, both based on CIAM IV, Athens, together with the unpublished La ville fonctionnelle / Die funktionelle Stadt, which was to have been the official CIAM IV publication.

French is the principal language of the materials. German was used by CIAM as a second language before World War II, and English afterwards; several items are in Dutch or Flemish. The practice of using Roman rather than Arabic numerals, evidenced in the majority of documents in this collection, has been followed throughout the finding aid; thus documents entitled "CIAM 9" have been rendered "CIAM IX" in order to facilitate keyword searching.

Arrangement note

The records are arranged in four series:
Series I. Correspondence, 1934-1958;
Series II. Handwritten notes, 1938-ca. 1956;
Series III. Documents, 1928-1957;
Series IV. Oversized materials, 1933-1955

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