Team X was an architectural group formed in the early 1950s by a number of young European architects. The participants were dissatisfied with the mid-20th-century Modern movement, particularly with the ideals of CIAM (Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne), with which they had previously been affiliated. Oscar Newman’s CIAM ‘59 in Otterlo and Alison Smithson’s The Emergence of Team 10 out of C.I.A.M. document Team X’s official secession from CIAM. Factions that began to appear at the CIAM IX meeting in Aix-en-Provence in 1953 between the old guard and the younger generation anticipated the split. Under that meeting’s theme, “Habitat,” the younger members contested the simplistic divisions of living, working, leisure, and circulation that had been established in the Athens Charter. Alison Smithson contends in Team 10 Meetings: 1953–1984 that the first Team X meeting took place during the meeting at Aix-enProvence. Following the events of CIAM IX, the “youngers” were entrusted with preparing the subject matter for the CIAM X meeting and from then on were known as Team X.Alison and Peter Smithson (England), Aldo van Eyck (Netherlands), Jaap Bakema (Netherlands), Georges Candilis (France), Shadrack Woods (France), John Voelcker (England), and William and Jill Howell (England) were the founding members of Team X. Participants in Team X altered considerably during the group’s existence, but in general the group remained small and was defined by its reaction to the inefficiencies of the large CIAM commissions.
Curtis maintains in Modern Architecture since 1900 that the members of Team X initially advocated the moral convictions of the early Modern movement but were discontented with CIAM’s incapacity to respond to growth and change. They felt that culture, climate, and context were not being addressed and opposed the modernist philosophy of “tabula rasa.” However, Francis Strauven acknowledges in his article “The Dutch Contribution: Bakema and Van Eyck” that even the method of achieving these mutual goals was not easily agreed on by the members of the group. Bakema and van Eyck, both of whom requested modification of an original draft by the Smithsons of the Doorn Manifesto (January/February 1954), had their suggestions for the document initially ignored. Finally, an appendix to this manifesto, called the “Dutch Supplement,” was added.
Few similarities generally existed between Team X members. Individual participants varied in their method of working and in their perception of how a building was produced. Alison Smithson argues in Team 10 Meetings: 1953–1984 whether even the group’s function as a forum for the development of individual architectural concerns was necessary for each architect’s work to have advanced.
The most influential manifesto produced by Team X is the Team 10 Primer, published in 1962 and edited by Alison Smithson. It consists of a compilation of quotations from its members at the time. John Voelcker and William and Jill Howell were no longer listed as members in Team 10 Primer, being replaced by Giancarlo de Carlo (Italy), José Antonio Coderch y de Sentmenat (Spain), C.Pologni (Hungary), Jerzy Soltan (Poland), and S.Wewerka (Germany). Extracts explore issues initiated by the CIAM commissions, such as mass housing and urbanism through the multilevel city, including the Smithson’s proposal for the Golden Lane Housing Competition using the concept of “streets in the air.” This proposal was strongly influenced by their relationship with Nigel Henderson, a photographer of London’s working-class communities, and their involvement in the art collaborative, the Independent Group.
Van Eyck’s elaboration of the doorstep metaphor and his criticism of twin phenomena is another important contribution found in Team 10 Primer. In the chapter on Van Eyck in Modern Architecture: A Critical History, Kenneth Frampton acknowledges how Van Eyck differed from the other participants of Team X in regard to the severity of his critique of the Modern movement. Before his involvement with Team X, Van Eyck had undertaken extensive studies of anthropological concerns through his personal interest in “primitive” cultures.
Formal meetings of Team X members were generally held annually. In 1962 a welldocumented Team X meeting occurred at Abbaye Royaumont. Its importance lay in Team X’s acknowledged independence from CIAM concerns. Once again the listed participants had changed. Projects presented included the Waterford School in Swaziland by Pancho Guedes (South Africa/ Portugal), the Tibro housing project by Ralph Erskine, John Voelcker’s Council Offices and proposal for Tilbury House in Maidstone, Peter Smithson’s studies of metropolitan London, José Antonio Coderch y de Sentmenat’s studies of slums in Barcelona, Christopher Alexander’s study of Indian villages, Kurokawa’s capsules, Aldo van Eyck’s interest in the large-house/ little-city image, Jaap Bakema’s gallery housing, Giancarlo de Carlo’s plans for Milan, Christopher Dean and Brian Richards’s studies of Euston Station, Shad Woods’s interest in pedestrian avenues, and Georges Candilis’s Toulouse-le-Mirail. The records of “Team 10 at Royaumont” differ from those in Team 10 Primer in that they chronicle the interactive discourse by participants in the projects presented. The contributions of architects of different nationalities, speaking English to varying degrees, resulted in frustration with this meeting’s outcomes.
In 1982 the final Team X family included Alison and Peter Smithson, Aldo van Eyck, Georges Candilis, José Antonio Coderch y de Sentmenat, Giancarlo de Carlo, Jerzy Soltan, Ralph Erskine (Sweden), Manfred Schiedhelm (Germany), Pancho Guedes, and Julian de La Fuente (France). No longer driven to respond to CIAM inadequacies, the group lost effectiveness and was disbanded in 1984.
The contributions made to 20th-century architecture by Team X include the production of important writings such as Team 10 Primer and their capacity to reassess the existing canon of the Modern movement. Equally important are the built works and writings of Team X members. In his article “Team 10 after the Sex Pistols,” Willem Jan Neutelings acknowledges the impact of Team X on the Dutch architecture that followed, citing a link to Rem Koolhaas’s work. Similarly the Smithsons influenced British architecture through Reyner Banham’s promotion of them as founders of the Brutalist movement.
Sennott R.S. Encyclopedia of twentieth century architecture, Vol.3 (P-Z). Fitzroy Dearborn., 2005.