The Athens Charter, drafted by Le Corbusier, was presented in 1933, to the International Congress of Modern Architecture. Incorporating various urban planning proposals, it aimed to respond to new problems caused by the rapid growth of urban centres. This document has exerted a decisive influence on thinking about and designing cities up to the present day. For example, Brasília was built in its image. But what have been its effective results? In the 21st century, does it still make sense to follow the Charter’s principles?
In the opinion of the sociologist Richard Sennett (1943, USA), the Athens Charter represents "the wrong utopia". He thinks that a new and more flexible approach to cities, as open and complex systems, is required. Sennett brought together a team and produced the "Quito Papers" – which was presented to Habitat III, a UN conference on housing and sustainable urban development, that is held once every 20 years. In a conversation moderated by Gareth Evans, a writer and curator at the WhiteChapel Gallery, Sennett - who believes that it is essential to return to the conviction that physical and social dimensions are intimately interconnected in cities – will speak about his study’s main conclusions, which focuses on large expanding metropolises, and the three key forces that shape them – climate change, bid data, and informality.