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Modernist Architecture –
acesso 31/01/2015

A Database of Modernist Architectural Theory

CIAM’s La Sarraz Declaration (1928)
Translated by Michael Bullock.
From Programs and Manifestoes on 20th-Century Architecture.
(The MIT Press. Cambridge, MA: 1971).
The undersigned architects, representing the national groups of modern architects,
affirm their unity of viewpoint regarding the fundamental conceptions of architecture
and their professional obligations towards society.
They insist particularly on the fact that “building” is an elementary activity of man
intimately linked with evolution and the development of human life. The destiny of
architecture is to express the orientation of the age. Works of architecture can spring
only from the present time.
They therefore refuse categorically to apply in their working methods means that may
have been able to illustrate past societies; they affirm today the need for a new
conception of architecture that satisfies the spiritual, intellectual, and material demands
of present-day life. Conscious of the deep disturbances of the social structure brought
about by machines, they recognize that the transformation of the economic order and of
social life inescapably brings with it a corresponding transformation of the architectural
The intention that brings them together here is to attain the indispensable and urgent
harmonization of the elements involved by replacing architecture on its true plane, the
economic, and sociological plane. Thus architecture must be set free from the
sterilizing grip of the academies that are concerned with preserving the formulas of the

It is urgently necessary for architecture. 2. Following the dissolution of the guilds. 5. I. abandoning the outmoded conceptions connected with the class of craftsmen. . 4. The idea of modern architecture includes the link between the phenomenon of architecture and that of the general economic system. The inescapable consequence of the development of the machine has led to industrial methods of production different from and often opposed to those of the craftsmen. [110] 3. the architectural conception has been inspired chiefly by the methods of craftsmen and not by the new industrial methods. but production demanding a minimum working effort. (c) they expect from the consumer (that is to say the customer who orders the house in which he will live) a revision of his demands in the direction of a readjustment to the new conditions of social life. the collapse of the class of skilled craftsmen is an accomplished fact. The need for maximum economic efficiency is the inevitable result of the impoverished state of the general economy. they declare themselves members of an association and will give each other mutual support on the international plane with a view to realizing their aspirations morally and materially. Such a revision will be manifested in the reduction of certain individual needs henceforth devoid of real justification. even though such an attitude must perforce lead to products fundamentally different from those of past epochs. The idea of “economic efficiency” does not imply production furnishing maximum commercial profit. which are at present restricted. The most efficient method of production is that which arises from rationalization and standardization. they lead to the employment of less specialized labor working under the direction of highly skilled technicians. Rationalization and standardization act directly on working methods both in modern architecture (conception) and in the building industry (realization). 6. thanks to the teaching of the academies. 7. This contradiction explains the profound disorganization of the art of building. the benefits of this reduction will foster the maximum satisfaction of the needs of the greatest number. Until recently. henceforth to rely upon the present realities of industrial technology. Rationalization and standardization react in a threefold manner: (a) they demand of architecture conceptions leading to simplification of working methods on the site and in the factory. (b) they mean for building firms a reduction in the skilled labor force.Animated by this conviction. General Economic System 1.

which are constantly growing. always checked against a reading of statistics. it extends both the urban agglomerations and the countryside. Its essential objects are: (a) division of the soil. III. It is essential today for architects to exercise an influence on public opinion by informing the public of the fundamentals of the new architecture. Town Planning 1. The true problems of the dwelling have been pushed back behind entirely artificial sentimental conceptions. Traffic control must take in all the functions of collective life. 4. Opinion has gone astray. (b) producing.II. Thus the architect satisfies the normal prerequisites of housing only poorly. Town planning is the organization of the functions of collective life. the indispensable preliminary basis for any town planning. Through the baneful effects of academic teaching. opinion has strayed into an erroneous conception of the dwelling. Town planning is the organization of life in all regions. They imply and offer a total transformation of existing legislation. must include the just division between the owners and the community of the unearned increment resulting from works of joint interest. The tradition is created of the expensive house. whose demands are motivated by numerous factors that have nothing to do with the real problem of housing. this transformation must run parallel with technical progress. The relationships between the inhabited areas. This inefficiency involves the country in an immense expense that is a total loss. speculations. 2. the cultivated areas (including sports) and the traffic areas are dictated by the economic and social environment. This order includes three functions: (a) dwelling. The redistribution of the land. are the very key to town planning. 3. The chaotic division of land. (c) relaxation (the maintenance of the species). 5. . The growing intensity of these vital functions. the building of which deprives a large part of the population of healthy living quarters. Urbanization cannot be conditioned by the claims of pre-existent aestheticism: its essence is of a functional order. must be abolished by a collective and methodical land policy. (c) legislation. The fixing of population densities establishes the indispensable classification. Present-day technical facilities. (b) organization of traffic. resulting from sales. Architecture and Public Opinion 1. The problem of the house is not posed. demonstrates the supreme importance of the traffic phenomenon. are generally very bad at formulating their wishes. inheritances. Clients.

They have established dogmas of architecture based on the practical and aesthetic methods of historical periods. In order to guarantee the country’s prosperity. Architecture and Its Relations with the State 1. Academies vitiate the architect’s vocation at its very origin. 7. 1928 The Declaration was signed by the following architects: . Architecture’s new attitude. are the guardians of the past. by definition and by function. 4. must revise the methods of teaching architecture and concern themselves with all those questions whose object is to endow the country with the most productive and most advanced system of organization.Through educational work carried out in schools. in one form or another. contrary to the efficient utilization of resources. 6. Academicism causes States to spend considerable sums on the erection of monumental buildings. essential hygiene. all the prescriptions of the State which. a body of fundamental truths could be established forming the basis for a domestic science (for example: the general economy of the dwelling. Modern architects having the firm intention of working according to the new principles can only regard the official academies and their methods tending towards aestheticism and formalism as institutions standing in the way of progress. If States were to adopt an attitude opposite to their present one they would bring about a veritable architectural renaissance that would take place quite naturally within the general orientation of the country’s economic and social development. the use of mechanical devices in domestic life. The effect of such an education would be to bring up generations with a healthy and rational conception of the house. etc. renders all claims to official patronage superfluous. Within the same order of ideas. The past teaches us precisely that nothing remains. IV. therefore.). 3. that everything evolves. tend to influence architecture by giving it a purely aesthetic direction are an obstacle to its development and must be vigorously combated. the principles of property and its moral significance. 8. the effects of sunlight. and that progress constantly advances. making a display of outmoded luxury at the expense of the most urgent tasks of town planning and housing. 2. the ill effects of darkness. These academies. according to which it aims of its own volition to resituate itself within economic reality. 3. States. June 28th. rationalization of household economics. These generations (the [112] architect’s future clients) would be capable of correctly stating the problem of housing. 5. henceforth withdrawing their confidence from the academies. States must tear the teaching of architecture out of the grip of the academies.

H. Berlage Victor Bourgeois Pierre Chareau Josef Frank Gabriel Guévrékian Max Ernst Haefeli Hugo Häring Arnold Höchel Huib Hoste Pierre Jeanneret Le Corbusier André Lurçat Sven Markelius Ernst May Fernando García Mercadal Hannes Meyer Werner Max Moser Carlo Enrico Rava Gerrit Rietveld Alberto Sartoris Hans Schmidt Mart Stam Rudolf Steiger Szymon Syrkus Henri-Robert von der Mühll .P.

Juan de Zavala .