metaphysical & metaphorical musings : art, architecture, and arithmetic

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Corbusier & Corbusier

"Le Corbusier 
adopted his pseudonym in the 1920s, deriving it in part from the name of a distant ancestor, Lecorbésier. But in the absence of a first name, it suggests a physical force as much as a human being. It brings to mind the verb courber, to bend, and, of course, Le Corbusier was a great bender of townscapes to his own will. It also brings to mind le corbeau, the crow or raven, not a conventionally beautiful bird in plumage or song, but one that is simple and unornamental in both and therefore, metaphorically speaking, honest and undeceiving, as Le Corbusier claimed his architecture to be. In French, le corbeau has a further meaning: that of a bird of ill omen—and perhaps that is the architect’s little joke upon the world."

Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man
Le Corbusier's design was informed by his Modulor, a scale of proportions based on the ratios of the human body, a continuation of Da Vinci's project in the Vitruvian Man.  It relies on the golden ratio, another irrational mathematical constant like pi, and the Fibonacci sequence, an exercise in vertigo which produces the golden spiral whose growth is related to the golden ratio.  Da Vinci and found this ratio inherent to the human form, and it can be seen in other natural phenomena.  Le Corbusier's ambition was to use this ratio to create architecture and design suited precisely to human proportions, possible through the mathematical order of the universe.
Le Corbusier's Modular Man

The first Modulor Man was based on the height of the average Frenchman, but was later revised to accord with the standard height of attractive men in English detective novels.  At least in the second case the base was a professedly fictional standard.  The very name, "Modular", evokes "modular", or interchangeable, the very image of Pruitt-Igoe, the design of which was inspired by Le Corbusier's architectural principles.  He considered the Modulor scale to be one capable of uniting the Metric and Imperial scales, creating universal equivalency.

One of Le Corbusier's early projects was the Domino House.  It is a very simple, practical design, but also one in which interior layout is customizable within the overall form.  The name evokes the image of dominoes stacked and arranged to build a small structure, but also recalls the variety of ways dominoes can be combined and recombined within the overall structure or rules of the game--the very essence of modularity.

Perhaps we've found the fetish-object?

1 comment:

  1. could y0ou talk ore bout the vitruvian man and modular man in terms of the geometry they show and are they similar and in what ways are they corbusier had quite a lot of different ides from vitruvius although his basic mahematical principles were the same