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  • Evolutional Housing in the Last Years of French Algiers

    Kosuke Matsubara*

    Abstract: In 1950’s, Algiers was a great place to train for a young Japanese boy. Gyoji Banshoya was

    a Japanese planner whose life’s work was urban planning in the Middle East and North Africa. The purpose of this chapter is to examine his work for the slum upgrading projects in Algiers under Mayor Jacques Chevallier, which still remains unknown. After studying in the laboratory of Kiyoshi Seike, Banshoya studied under the supervision of G. Hanning and G. Candillis at ATBAT. His experiences at ATBAT in Paris led him to Algiers where housing policy permitting Muslims and Christians to cohabit had been introduced. Banshoya engaged in the study of an evolutional housing system. Jean-Jacques Deluz testified that he was a genius of dessin. As micro scale and macro scale were clearly unified in French-Algerian urban design, Banshoya started to work not only on housing design but also on urban design including the slum upgrading projects in Algiers. In fact, he participated in the Les Annassers, Mahieddine, Champ de Manoeuvres, Chateauneuf Frais-Vallon and “Temporary housing replacing tin-roofed shelters projects”. Though none of these projects were solely credited to Banshoya, the fact that Mayor Chevallier listed Japanese at the top of his list of member nationalities at the Agency suggests that Banshoya performed some important tasks. Keywords:

    Gyoji Banshoya, Algiers, ATBAT, CIAM, Evolutional Housing

    * Associate Professor, Graduate School of Systems and Information Engineering, University of Tsukuba E-Mail: [email protected]

    ISCP2014|Hanoi, Vietnam Proceedings of International Symposium on City Planning 2014

    * This is an abstract peer-reviewed by the International Affairs Committee of the City Planning Institute of Japan for ISCP2014.

  • 1. INTRODUCTION In 1950’s, Algiers was a great place to train for a young Japanese boy. Gyoji Banshoya was

    a Japanese urban planner whose life’s work was urban planning in the Middle East and North Africa. After studying in the laboratory of Kiyoshi Seike at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Banshoya went to Paris and trained under the supervision of Gerald Hanning and George Candillis at ATBAT (Atelier des Bâtisseurs). Then he went to Algiers and participated in some HLM (habitation à loyer modéré) housing projects managed by "l'Agence du Plan à Alger" for the cohabitation of Muslims and Christians. Based on this valuable experience in Algiers, he would start to work in Middle Eastern cities as a UNDP (United Nations Development Program) expert to finally become one of the most important urban planners in the area who created master plans for Beirut, Damascus and Aleppo in cooperation with Michel Ecochard.

    In this chapter, I will clarify some of the details of Gyoji Banshoya's work in Algiers which have not yet been completely verified. According to previous research [1], Banshoya, in his younger days, tried to develop his own theory in order to combine tradition and modernity and suggested the “Habitat Evolutif” (Evolutional Housing) to realize a design for low cost housing reconstituting historic style. Algiers was the first place where he applied this theory. In addition, looking back on his whole career, we can suppose that Algiers was the place where he first became interested in the Middle East and North Africa. A four year stay in Algiers may have provided this unique Japanese architect with essential knowledge of form, color and the functions of Islamic architecture and urban fabric.

    The main question of this chapter is: exactly what did he do in Algiers? Or, how he did experience the spatial characteristics of Algiers?

    Primary research resources were official documents such as “Bulletin Municipal Official de la Ville d’Alger” which includes minutes of municipal parliament sessions, and “Alger Revue”, the city magazine. To define the contents of his work, I referred to the CV created by Banshoya himself. Other important primary sources such as planning documents, dessins, notes and letters about Banshoya were also used. I also make reference to interviews with his colleagues and family who are still alive today [2].

    2. ATBAT AND ARCHITECTS-ACTIVISTS IN ALGIERS

    2.1. Training at ATBAT After World War II, there was urgent demand for designs for low cost housing in Japan.

    The motivation that Banshoya fostered during his time at Seike’s laboratory was to unify tradition and modernity. He published his first piece, in 1953, “The Square House” [3] and an article, “Italian Housing after the World War II” [4] in Shin Ken-Chiku. He didn't intend to simply restore traditional style, but he tried to reconstitute it in order to manage both of conservation and modernization [5]. As a result, he suggested “Evolutional Housing” in which architects can reflect the respective local cultures. Banshoya's theory was fortunately accepted in French architectural currency at that time. In particular, George Candillis, who himself had much experience of evolutional housing in Morocco, evaluated Banshoya's work "The Square House" with his own sketch and encouraged him in l'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui (Figure 1) [6].

    ISCP2014|Hanoi, Vietnam

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    Proceedings of International Symposium on City Planning 2014

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