Athens Charter

The Athens Charter (French: La charte d' Athènes ) was adopted at the Fourth Congress of the Congrès International d' Architecture Moderne ( CIAM, International Congresses for New Building ) in Athens in 1933. Under the theme of the functional city there discussed urban planners and architects of the tasks of modern urban development.


Developed under the auspices of Le Corbusier, was the Charter of Athens as a result of the Congress for the unbundling of urban functional areas and the creation of attractive living and working environments in the future. In 1943 he published the Charter of Athens as a concept of a functional city, during the period of the Second World War, but remained rather they are of minor importance.

Only in the post-war period, she won great importance as an expression of construction of modernity; and at the latest after its publication in German (1962 ) laid down in their principles were more ideological dogma as a model for the practice. Nevertheless, they influenced - and often misinterpreted - the urban planning of the post-war period until today. In particular, the urban models of the 1950s ( The structured and dispersed city ) and the 1960s ( The car-oriented city / area redevelopment ) are developed in large part from the Charter of Athens. It was not until the mid-1980s began, given the negative consequences of the separation of functions, a departure from the ideals of the Charter.


In the first decades of the 20th century, the living conditions of the people had become increasingly intolerable in most major cities. As a result of industrialization increased the pollution of the environment, working conditions were hard, the wages low and in the narrow, mostly medieval city centers, there was a nagging overpopulation and broad strata of the population lived under inhumane conditions.

The Charter of Athens has studied the living conditions of the population in many cities and attempts to identify solutions and proposals to improve the situation encountered.


Economic reasons: The industrialization has destroyed the old harmony of the urban fabric and the working conditions of people are now determined by machinery, as well as the arrangement and location of workplaces.

  • Apartments are speculative objects, distributed unfairly and poorly equipped with open spaces.
  • Economic development is improvisation and is subject to speculation individuals. Coordination of the nature, extent and location of industries, offices and homes is subject to purely economic considerations.
  • The classification of cities according to functions is an important point of the Charter. Living, working and recreation areas for the purpose of segregation to counteract the compression of large cities. The individual areas should be separated by green areas from each other and connected by roads.
  • Economic interests assert themselves against administrative control and social solidarity, with the result that urban structures are dominated to the detriment of many residents of private interests.

In the urban criticism was, inter alia, 1933 noted:

  • The inner historic core of the city is settled too close. The most densely populated district are located in the districts of the least favored.
  • In the crowded neighborhoods, housing conditions are ominous.
  • The growth of cities gradually engulfs the adjacent green areas. The distance to nature increases the grievances.


Based on these findings, the following demands were made in the Charter of Athens:

  • The city needs to promote at ensuring individual freedom, action in support of the general public.
  • The city must be defined as a functional unit and planned in the wider context of their sphere of influence.
  • The city as a functional unit is subject to the urban main functions of living, working, relaxing and moving.
  • The architectural works must - remain - individually or as a whole city.
  • The apartment must be the center of all urban aspirations.
  • The workplace must be minimal from the apartment.
  • Open space must be allocated to the residential areas and annexed as leisure facilities of the city as a whole.
  • The traffic has one of the connection of the urban key functions ministerial function.

The functional zone division of the city floorplans part of the main concerns of the Charter. The individual functional areas for living, working and recreation should be divided by wide green belt and connected by roads.

The ideal cities should have the following zoning:

  • Downtown: administration, commerce, banking, shopping, culture
  • Belt around the inner city: Separated from each other: industrial, commercial, residential
  • O: In the green belt embedded satellite cities with purely residential function

The residential areas that Le Corbusier envisaged were determined by high, widely spaced apartment homes with high housing density.


Although the Charter was considered in the theoretical discussion for decades as a desirable ideal, and disadvantages of the derived from their urban were soon apparent.

The small-scale structure of individual functions broke, and although working, living and recreational areas in their quality though much improved, led her then still planned spatial separation to a strong increase of the mechanical movement and all the associated problems. Inner cities deserted and with the reconstruction of the cities they gave much of their own history, urban history and urban vitality on. In 1970, the small-scale mixed-use and revitalization of historic city centers again more attention ( Urban Development Act).

Many sociological demands of the Charter, such as demands for the location of the residential area, the size of green and recreational areas, the availability of employment or avoidance of residential areas adjacent to industrial areas have proved to be right and important and still belong today to the basics of urban planning.