Yona Friedman in 1980 in his atelier

Yona Friedman in 1980

Yona Friedman, the Hungarian-born French architect, urban planner and designer who helped develop the concept of “mobile architecture” in the 1960s and 70s, has passed away at age 96.

In 1958, Yona Friedman published his first manifesto: “Mobile architecture” which argued that the built environment should empower its inhabitants to take charge of their own individual destinies. He described a new kind of mobility for the inhabitants (not of the buildings) who are given new freedom.

The manifesto advocated for an architecture suitable for a “mobile society”. According to Friedman, the projects of architects in the 1950’s were undertaken to meet the needs of a make-believe entity – the “average man” – and not as an attempt to meet the needs of the actual members of a mobile society.

The architecture academia was largely responsible for the “classical” architect’s under-estimation of the role of the user. Furthermore, this teaching did not embrace any real theory of architecture. Friedman proposed then teaching manuals for the fundamentals of architecture for the general public.

Lessons learned: Yona Friedman Quotes

Seven Yona Friedman quotes to understand his “process“.

1. Understanding our Limitations

Understanding something means misunderstanding it in one’s own way.

– Yona Friedman

2. Architects Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of architects to design structures that can be inhibited for the widest range of individuals and purposes.

– Yona Friedman

3. About Urban Planning

An architect does not create a city, only an accumulation of objects. It is the inhabitant who ‘invents’ the city; an uninhabited city, even if new, is only a ‘ruin’.

– Yona Friedman1

4. The process of Design

The process is important and a final result which can be determined with absolute certainty does not exist.

– Yona Friedman

5. Architecture Styles

The Gothic people had no name for their style. This style is not about aesthetics. It is purely practical and pragmatic. Architects like Le Corbusier who are concerned with aesthetics invent their absurd rules.

– Yona Friedman2

6. What is Architecture for People?

Architecture for people proposes a variant of the original “Ville Spatial.” It is based on a structure easy to modify, a structure not necessarily raised over the ground level, keeping that option open if wanted.

– Yona Friedman

7. Advice for Young Architects

I keep telling young people – you can’t design something new, you have to continue…

– Yona Friedman2


Works of Yona Friedman


1. Yona Friedman quote from Pro Domo, 2006

2. Yona Friedman quotes from the interview with Vladimir Belogolovsky in 2016