Georges Candilis

Georges (Gheorghios) Candilis was a Greek born in Baku, Azerbaijan on 29 March, 1913. Educated as an architect at the Polytechnic in Athens (1931-36) Candilis made the acquaintance of Le Corbusier during his studies, at CIAM IV (1933, Athens). As a result, Le Corbusier assigned Candilis the leadership of ASCORAL (Assemblée de constructeurs pour une rénovation architecturale) in 1943. In 1945 he joined the office of Le Corbusier, where he became one of the main collaborators. He also became the project architect for the construction of the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille (1945-52).
In 1951 Candilis, Shadrach Woods and engineer Henri Piot become the leaders of ATBAT-Afrique in Tangiers, Morocco. ATBAT-Afrique was the African branch of ATBAT, Atelier des bâtisseurs, founded in 1947 by Le Corbusier, Vladimir Bodiansky, André Wogenscky and Marcel Py, with Jacques Lefèbvre as commercial manager. This so-called atelier was conceived as a research centre, where architects, engineers and technicians could work in an interdisciplinary fashion. Originally ATBAT was formed to carry out the construction of the Marseille Unité d’Habitation. Due to the tense political climate the ATBAT-Afrique office in Tangiers was closed at the end of 1952. As a result Candilis and Woods became the leaders of the enlarged Casablanca head-office from that moment. However, the changed atmosphere announced the end of ATBAT-Afrique. In 1954 Candilis returned to Paris and opened his own office, together with engineers Paul Dony and Piot as well as with the Yugoslav architect Alexis Josic and Woods. The office immediately won the national competition Opération Million, aimed at lowering the construction costs of a three-room apartment from 1.5 million francs to 1 million francs. In the following decade the Candilis-Josic-Woods office built tens of thousands of dwellings, both in France and in the French overseas territories. The office realized remarkable projects such as the extension of Bagnols-sur-Cèze (1956-61) and the design for the city expansion Toulouse-Le Mirail (from 1961-71). Candilis’s role in the partnership was that of official representative and of negotiator, permanently in touch with builders and politicians.

In the early years of Team 10 Candilis’s main contribution evolved around the idea of habitat du plus grand nombre, an idea he had taken from Michel Ecochard, with whom he and Woods presented their Moroccan studies at the ninth CIAM congress of 1953. This presentation together with the ATBAT projects received a lot of attention and critical acclaim. In the late 1950s he and Woods also developed the idea of the habitat évolutif, integrating the issues of growth and change at the level of the individual house.
Because of his long involvement in CIAM and his relation with Le Corbusier, within Team 10 Candilis represented the continuity with CIAM and with Le Corbusier.
After the end of CIAM he organized several Team 10 meetings, in Bagnols-sur-Cèze (1960) and in Toulouse (1971). The last Team 10 meeting in Bonnieux was held at Candilis’ holiday home, and was of an informal character.

Urged by his students, Candilis lead an external studio at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, starting in 1965. Candilis continued his teachings after the student unrests of May 1968 in the Unité Pédagogique NR 6 and was a guest professor at various schools of architecture in France and abroad.
After the Candilis-Josic-Woods partnership was dissolved in 1969, Candilis remained active as an architect and a town planner. His assignments included tourist regions and centres and several projects in the Middle East ranging from dwellings to schools and vacation houses. In 1977 he published the retrospective book Bâtir la Vie.
Georges Candilis died in Paris on 10 May 1995.