A Genealogy of Habitat: From the Charter of Athens to French Post-structuralism

D. Pohl, Óskar Arnórsson

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


Of the four points of the Charter of Athens “Habiter, Travailler, Circuler, Cultiver,” the one that persisted in the French post-war discourse of architecture and urbanism is the notion of “Habitat.” Utilized both by the Ministere de Reconstruction et Urbanisme (MRU) and its institutional successor the Ministre de l’Equipement, du Logement et de l’Aménagement du territoire (MEL), “habitat” still resonated in intellectual works of the CERFI research group (Centre d’études, de recherches et de formation institutionnelles), as they submitted their work to the latter in the beginning of the 70s. CERFI, which consisted of scholars such as Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and Michel Foucault, but also architect Bruno Fortier, collaborated in those years on a cross-disciplinary research project funded by MEL – a successor of the MRU, that already in the post-war period incorporated infrastructural planning into its approach to urbanism under Michel Ecochard and Claudius Eugène-Petit, among others. During the transition from the MRU to the MEL in 1967, led by Minister Edgard Pisani, the planning authority favored a multidisciplinary approach, of which CERFI can be regarded as an intended institutional outcome. CERFI’s collaborative work was dedicated to the study of collective facilities, such as hospitals, prisons, recreational facilities and housing, while adopting a term that had only been coined by the French technocrats during the post-war reconstruction years, namely “Habitat.” In particular, the notion of “Habitat,” which had been previously developed by the MRU extensively in adapting the Athens Charter, also lead in the work of CERFI members to a publication in 1977, entitled “Politiques de l’Habitat (1800 – 1850).” First and foremost, this proposal aims to trace the discursive lines and the genealogy of “Habitat,” from the MRU to CERFI, in order to reveal the semiotic shifts as well as the mutual interdependence between the different agencies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event16th AHRA International Conference: Architecture & Collective Life - University of Dundee, Dundee, United Kingdom
Duration: 21 Nov 201923 Nov 2019


Conference16th AHRA International Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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