Published in DASH#12-13 – Global Housing
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Affordable Housing as Development Aid

Michel Écochard: New Roles, Methods and Tools of the Transnational Architect

It was not by coincidence that the UN Economical and Social Council decided in 1948, only a few years after the actual foundation of the United Nations as an organization, to start a division on Housing and Town and Country Planning.1 This division was a central component in the larger so-called technical assistance programme that the United Nations developed to help countries that were in need – ranging from war-affected countries in Europe to newly independent nation-states in African and Asia. Among the members of the council, there was a clear understanding that affordable housing was a universal human right, as well as a main matter of concern and a prime field of intervention for the new international organization.2 . . .


  • This research on the United Nations and the HTCP was undertaken together with Maristella Casciato. An introduction to the various activities of the Housing and Town and Country Planning can be found in the various issues of the periodical Housing and Town and Country Planning (New York: United Nations. Dept. of Social Affairs, 1948).
  • Adequate housing was recognized as part of the right to an adequate standard of living in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 and of which article 25 states: ‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing . . .’ It was confirmed in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.


The articles by Luce Beeckmans, “The adventures of the French architect Michel Ecochard in post-independence Dakar: a transnational development expert drifting between commitment and expediency”, The Journal of Architecture, 19:6, 2004, 849-871 and Kim De Raedt, “Shifting conditions, frameworks and approaches: the work of KPDV in postcolonial Africa.”, ABE Journal: (4/2013) 1-28 have, for respectively the texts parts on Dakar and Fria, functioned as important sources for this essay. Passages from these articles have been strongly paraphrased (in first, second and last paragraph on Dakar, and in third paragraph on Fria) but erroneously not referenced (Beeckmans) or only partially (De Raedt). The authors wish to apologize for this omission, explicitly recognize the role of the articles as sources and underline their scientific importance.