|The City Of Man|
by Willard Manus
ago I wrote a feature on the late Constantinos Doxiadis, president of
Doxiadis Associates and the Athens Technological Institute, for The Observer
(UK) and Clear Creek Magazine (USA). At the time Doxiadis was an influential
town-planner and visionary who organized his theories into a science which
he called "Ekistics" (from oikos, the ancient Greek word for
house or dwelling; the English words "economy" or "ecology"
are derived from it). It coordinated economics, social, political and
administrative sciences, technology and aesthetics into a coherent whole,
which he hoped would lead "to the creation of a new type of human
habitat...the city of man."
Q. You have
called Ekistics "the science of human settlements." But how
exactly is it a science? Can there really be an objective solution to
the problem of rebuilding the city?
Q. What human values, what vision of man, what view of the political order, lie at the heart of your philosophy of Ekistics?
we face two problems-a scientific and a moral one. They do not necessarily
lead to the same conclusions. Scientifically speaking you could say in
the narrow sense of the word that human values, vision, etc., are given
to me by the people for whom I work. My job is to be the technologist,
to carry out their orders in the best possible way. But this poosition
contains a very great moral danger. If the wrong type of master of men
asks you to do something, should you do it? Our reaction in such situations
depends on the job. If we are completely convinced that we are hepling
people, we will do the job even if their leaders do not have the proper
vision, or even if they belong to a political order which we don't like
or respect. Ekistics is called the science of human settlements and if
they are human, they must be humane. If we go ahead and build human settlements
which do not respect human values, then we are both unreasonable and immoral.
One of the principles we have learned is the need for a maximum of choices
for man. This can be translated into simpler terms-personal freedom, political
freedom, freedom of expression of all sorts. What we do must respect basic
human needs and a very basic human need is the freedom of the individual.
This is proved by the settlements created by man around the world.
A. The statement is completely true because it is only now that we are beginning to see the crisis. You see humanity, has not realized its great failurein city building in our time. We have been overcome by the population explosion and other problems inside our cities. As often happens when faced with a revolutio we have been unable to cope with it. We are still unable. However, my feeling is that in the sixties we have seen simple recognition of the problem. In the seventies we will have recognition of basic theories. Then in the eightieswe will see big-scale experiments, and the nineties and the year 2000 we will be able to say humanity is in control of the situation.
Q. Can a
society clinging to the ethics of free enterprise truly save its environment?
Cars, for example, are a chief source of our greatest plagues (congestion,
air pollution, proliferating highways, noise and junk); yet, despite the
huge profits of the automotive industry, despite the awesome threat of
air pollution, despite an emergency law in California that new cars must
be fitted with ainti-air-pollution devices, the manufacturers have only
recently provided this relatively inexpensive item as standard equipment.
Their lack of responsibility toward the people who made them rich is not
the exception but the rule.
Q. In "The Frogs," Aristophanes said something like this: "The city is in great danger. Unless we can find advisers who are both wise and good, we shall perish. We have listened to our oraters and out politicians, but their advice has been neither wise nor good and we have been ed to the brink of disaster. Is it not time that we turned to our other advisers, the poets?
we need the poets, we need to be in constant dialogue with them, but if
we believe that only the poets can provide us with a solution it will
be as wrong as believing that only a designer or a planner can help us.
The city does not belong to one person. It does not belong to the poet,
to the artist, to the economist, to the businessman, or to the political
leader. A good political leader is one who understands that the city belongs
to everybody, is one one who creates a synthesis out of everybody's dream.
This is what the city is, the common denominator of all our dreams, and
this is why dealing with the city is something very difficult.