Inventory of the Archives of the International New Towns Association - INTA , 1976-2004
The INTA archive was handed over to the International New Towns Institute (INTI) in Almere in July 2007 by Michel Sudarskis, Secretary General of INTA. It covers the period from the formation of INTA up until mid 2000. The archive consists of approximately 20 m of archives and 24 m of documentation including about 500 books, a large amount of grey literature and brochures. The large amount of documentation was geographically organized. The archive is fragmentary and documents principally the activities of INTA, especially the Congresses.
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The initiative for founding INTA came from France. The Congres International des Villes Nouvelles was held in Paris from 13 to 15 November 1975 with 240 delegates from 25 countries. Remarkably enough, it was an American, M. Apgar IV, who made the suggestion
in the final resolution to form an ‘International Association of New Towns’, aimed at providing a worldwide forum to exchange experiences relating to the problems and possibilities of new towns and to stimulate research in this field. An international working group led by the Frenchman M. Boscher was to come up with a concrete elaborated proposition within eight months. The resolution was passed by common consent. It was no coincidence that INTA was founded in France. The British new towns programme had begun in 1946 and was largely completed. The programme for the villes nouvelles was not formulated until 1966 and was realized from the late 1960s. In 1975, development and building was still in full swing. As a result of the oil crisis and significant stagnation in population growth, radical changes were necessary. So while the British new towns movement was well past its highest point, plenty of thinking and building was still going on in France. And there was a continuous need for knowledge, particularly about experiences abroad. With this situation as background, it can come as no surprise that the initiative for founding INTA came from France. Similarly, it is not strange that the UK, which saw itself as the birthplace of the new towns concept, demanded a role in the new organization.
When asked, a British official gave the following clear insight into the latent conflict of interests:
"So far as the political context is concerned, my understanding was that, to a substantial extent at least, British involvement in INTA came about because the British government was anxious to sell our new towns skill abroad and it was felt that if we did not become involved in the infant international organization, the French would take over and reap the benefit therefrom."
It is striking that in the official deed of formation from June 1976, not only the UK and France are mentioned as founding members, but also the USA. Unlike in Europe, new towns there were not established by the state, but by property developers. The Urban Land Institute (ULI) had developed after the Second World War into a global organization in the field of property development.
This institutional tradition was to have a strong influence on INTA. But the USA probably had a hidden agenda as well. The first oil crisis had sharpened the geopolitical conflict of interests between the USA and the Soviet Union; the Cold War was not yet over. Their international character made organizations such as ULI and INTA eminently suitable to defend American political and economic interests, particularly in strategic and vulnerable areas like the Middle and Far East and Africa. Was it a coincidence that the first INTA congress took place in Tehran, a few months after the first big student protests against the Shah had begun?
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