Habitat: Ecology Thinking in Architecture

Van den Heuvel, D., Martens, J., Muñoz Sanz, V., eds. (June 2020), Habitat: Ecology Thinking in Architecture. Rotterdam: NAI 010 Publishers.

A new look at ecological thinking in architecture and urbanism and a contribution to its historiography, is the result of research undertaken in the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning and in various international archives.

When the ecological term habitat was introduced in the 1950s in the avant-garde circles of CIAM (Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne) and Team 10, it became a subject of fierce debate. In addition to rethinking the housing issue, habitat brought a profoundly new way of looking at architecture and urbanism. Cities and buildings could no longer be seen as isolated objects, but instead were considered part of a larger whole, an environment or habitat.

In the light of climate change, ecological issues are receiving more attention today and are an important reason to reconsider the discipline of architecture. The book Habitat: Ecology Thinking in Architecture highlights some of the historical sources of the ecological views underlying the current reforms in architecture. There is a focus on the paradigmatic shift in thinking about the built environment as something that is inherently contextual and relational. This book describes the continuity, interruptions and transformations at stake and not only intensifies the current debate, but also offers suggestions for future research.

Habitat: Ecology Thinking in Architecture is largely based on fundamental research undertaken in the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning, which is managed by Het Nieuwe Instituut. Based on selections from the collection and additional material from international archives, this book presents extensive documentation of design proposals and research projects. It provides an overview of key positions since the 1950s, when the Habitat concept was first explored in an attempt to rethink the architecture and its purpose in general.

The book contains contributions by Frits Palmboom, Erik Rietveld, Hadas Steiner, Georg Vrachliotis, and Leonardo Zuccaro Marchi, combined with generous visual documentations of the work of renowned architects Aldo van Eyck, Alison and Peter Smithson, Van den Broek & Bakema, and many more. Published by nai010, the book stems from research on Total Space and the exhibition Habitat Expanding Architecture, which took place at Het Nieuwe Instituut in 2018 and can now be visited online.


Habitat. Ecology Thinking in Architecture. Photo: nai010 uitgevers


Reproduction of the Dubrovnik Scroll, by Alison and Peter Smithson, included in Habitat. Ecology Thinking in Architecture. Photo: nai010 uitgevers.


The publication includes an overview of most grids presented in CIAM’s meeting in Dubrovnik in 1956. Photo: nai010 uitgevers.