Modulor, Le Corbusier’s navel of the world

In 1945, Le Corbusier developed his personal unit of measurement, the Modulor, aimed toward reintroducing the notion of corporality into structure.

Utilizing a skilful mixture of measurements primarily based on a human determine stretching its arm within the air, he defines the scale of his buildings and their inside areas, together with furnishings.

However this concept of a “customary man” whose use as a common template would generate well-being, by changing the “dehumanized” metric system, won’t redefine the requirements governing development.

The grasp customary

Modulor template by Le Corbusier

The Modulor, a contraction of “module” and “nombre d’or” (golden quantity), is justified by way of its dimensions by the division of its top of 6 ft (1.83 m) by the peak of its navel at 3.7 ft (1.13 m) (equal to the gap between the highest of the outstretched hand and the navel), which provides the golden quantity (1.619 m).

Different subdivisions are calculated from the mathematical Fibonacci sequence.

Modulor or fada-ometer?

Modulor painting by Le Corbusier
Modulor portray by Le Corbusier

Greater than a century after the arrival of the metre as a common measure, the concept of utilizing a person’s silhouette as a measuring device may query frequent sense.

In 1950, for anybody unfamiliar with Le Corbusier, he might need appeared like an eccentric, as some Marseillais thought, having nicknamed the “Cité Radieuse”, the primary housing unit to make use of the Modulor, for numerous causes, the “Maison du fada” (native slang for “madman’s home”).

On the time, the architect may simply be laughed at (in France) when he declared that the peak of his 1.83 meters tall man corresponded to the six-foot top of well-built English policemen!

Regardless of this seemingly fanciful clarification, the Modulor was the results of Le Corbusier’s deep-seated need to reintroduce human measurements into development, whereas referring to the inches and ft broadly used within the Anglo-Saxon world.

To make his idea seem as smart as potential, he had drawn inspiration from illustrious predecessors by taking the difficulty to develop a mathematical justification involving the golden ratio in his human development.

Modulor fundamentals

The Modulor’s 3 principal dimensions – its top from head to toe, the gap from its outstretched arm to its ft, and the gap between its navel (positioned on the middle of the silhouette) and considered one of its extremities – are used to find out the scale of inside areas, and even bay home windows.

The intermediate measurements derived from the Modulor subdivisions have been used to find out furnishings sizes and the assorted thicknesses or depths for fittings and constructions.
For instance, the peak of a desk prime was 27.6 inches (70 cm), that of a kitchen unit 33.9 inches (86 cm), a chair seat 16,9 inches (43 cm) and a bar prime 4.5 inches (113 cm).
These measurements are decrease than in the present day’s requirements.

Le Corbusier gave himself the liberty to play with the Modulor’s silhouette, reinterpreting it artistically in work and sculptures, and integrating stylized hollowed-out variations into sure concrete facades.
Reworked into an ink pad, the Modulor is also built-in immediately into scale drawings.

Children's rooms in a Le Corbusier housing unit with a gingerbread Modulor
Two kids’s bedrooms in a single-family dwelling with gingerbread Modulor 2.0 measurements (generated utilizing AI).

In the event you take your Modulor and measure a baby’s bed room in considered one of Le Corbusier’s housing items, it’s :

  • A Modulor arm raised: 7.4 ft (2.26 meters) excessive.
  • A head-to-toe Modulor: 6 ft (1.83 metres) vast.
  • Two Modulors from head to toe + one Modulor with outstretched arm: 19.4 ft (5.92 metres) in size.

On the ego recreation, the grasp takes six ft

Stylized red modulor cut from novopan
Modulor sculpture in cut-out painted wooden.

The Modulor was initially meant to measure Le Corbusier’s top, 5,74 ft (1.75 m), as was the Oktameter reference mannequin talked about later on this article, earlier than lastly selecting 1.829 meters to regulate it to the spherical determine of 6 ft.

Did Le Corbusier assume he was revolutionizing structure by redefining the scale of buildings and residing areas with just a few measurements artificially linked to a template man he himself had decreed?

Based on him, a house created utilizing Modulor dimensions would supply its inhabitants with a way of well-being and luxury.
He additionally believed that “mediocre” architects may create high quality structure utilizing his Modulor!

Regardless of his real need to construct a humanized structure with extra natural references, his essentially arbitrary unit of measurement may additionally seem as a type of dictate, that of an architect desirous to form the world to his personal hand.

Ultimately, this new customary of measurement proved to be as devoid of true universality because the palm, the cubit, the empan, or the opposite “random” human-based measures of ft or inches…
sorry, for Anglo-Saxon readers 😉

Modulor in Le Corbusier’s French structure

Between principle and follow, the Modulor shortly proved to be restrictive and restricted in its software, and designers freed themselves from it to a larger or lesser extent, relying on the constructing.

In residential items

Modulor reigns supreme within the 4 French housing items (as within the fifth situated in Berlin), which function stylized representations on their facades.

The primary housing unit, Marseille’s “Cité radieuse”, was constructed solely utilizing 15 measurements taken from the Modulor.

Modulor engraved on the façade of the Cité Radieuse in Marseille
Stylized modulor on the facade of the Marseille housing unit.

Modulor was additionally used, throughout Le Corbusier’s lifetime, for the Reze housing unit in 1955 and the Briey housing unit in 1960.
After his demise, the Firminy-Vert housing unit was accomplished in 1967 by his disciple André Wogenscky.

In locations of worship

The Chapelle Notre-Dame du Haut in Ronchamp (1955) and the Convent of Sainte-Marie de La Tourette (1960) have been constructed throughout Le Corbusier’s lifetime utilizing Modulor.

Entrance porch to the Tourette convent in Modulor style
Entrance to the Tourette convent that includes a template the peak of the Modulor.
Undulating glass panels at the Tourette convent
Undulating glass panels” on the Tourette convent, primarily based on subdivisions of the Modulor.
La Tourette convent cell
A Dominican’s cell, whose measurement, primarily based on the Modulor, is similar to the kids’s rooms within the housing items.

Within the case of the Saint-Pierre de Firminy-vert church constructed by José Oubrerie after Le Corbusier’s demise, there are just a few (poorly documented) references to the Modulor, corresponding to the scale of the concrete slabs laid on the church roof.

In single-family houses

The Jaoul homes

The Jaoul homes are two villas in-built 1953 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, close to Paris. They’re a concrete software of the Modulor precept: the scale of the 12′ x 7.4′ (3.66 x 2.26 m) bay home windows, the ceiling top of the second flooring and the bottom of the Catalan vaults on the second flooring bear witness to this.

The Cap-Martin shed

That is the last word end result of Le Corbusier’s analysis into the notion of the minimal cell, which he had already experimented with within the Twenties for the gardener’s lodge on the Villa Savoye.
The cabanon, situated close to Monaco, was Le Corbusier’s favourite trip spot on the finish of his life (he drowned there, within the sea).

The Cabanon de Roquebrune-Cap-Martin is a 49.2-foot (15m2) sq. that’s the width of two Modulors with out the arm and the peak of a Modulor with the arm prolonged. It contains a single room for 3 capabilities: sleeping, washing and dealing.

Different buildings constructed in France utilizing Modulor

  • Le Pavillon suisse de la Cité universitaire internationale à Paris.
  • La Manufacture de Saint-Dié, en France, un prototype d’usine.

The Modulor, and after?

Regardless of the affect Le Corbusier had on many architects, notably these he had skilled, and the 2 books he revealed on the topic, using the Modulor didn’t survive very lengthy after the demise of its creator.

A few of Le Corbusier’s disciples, corresponding to his pupil André Wogenscky, perpetuated using the Grasp’s customary of their buildings, as within the swimming pool at Firminy, which completes Le Corbusier’s largest architectural mission in Europe, and was impressed by his achievements.

Modulor basketball hoop support in Firminy, France
A Modulor reworked right into a basketball rack in entrance of Firminy’s Piscine Wogenscky.

Modulor, and earlier than?

Le Corbusier didn’t invent something along with his template man. In truth, he drew inspiration from illustrious predecessors, most famously Vitruvian Man.

Vitruvius’ principle

Vitruvius was a Roman architect of the first century BC, creator of the treatise “De architectura”.

He devised an excellent measurement system to be used in constructing development. It was composed of items linked to physique components such because the elbow, foot, palm and finger.

He depicts a human physique of excellent proportions in a circle, with legs and arms unfold aside, and a navel that acts as the middle of gravity.
By reproducing it in a sq. with the legs shut collectively, he determines a physique top equal to its width.

Vitruvian Man
Illustration of the Vitrus man from the very first illustrated version printed and revealed in Venice in 1511.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man

In the course of the inventive, scientific and philosophical flourishing of the Renaissance, man was thought-about the middle of the universe.

Round 1490, Leonardo da Vinci took up his pen and drew what would turn out to be probably the most well-known illustration of Vitruvian Man.

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci
L’homme de Vitruve extrait, des carnets de Léonard de Vinci.

The Oktameter mannequin


In 1936 (20 years earlier than the Modulor), German Bauhaus architect Ernst Neufert, an admirer of Le Corbusier, developed a system linked to the golden ratio, primarily based on a 1.75 m male customary (5,74 ft), with the goal of standardizing development by normalizing inside areas and all the pieces that goes with them, corresponding to furnishings sizes, staircase step heights and so forth.
The ensuing octametric measurement system grew to become a typical for Nazi buildings…

His complete treatise on “The Components of Constructing Tasks” remains to be revealed in the present day and remains to be a reference for a lot of architects. His 2.50-meter (8,2 ft) grid has remained a typical for industrial constructing development.

Within the shadow of the Modulor

With its simplified male silhouette, artistically represented with expertise by Le Corbusier, the Modulor may have contributed to perpetuating a type of patriarchal domination that had at all times been current on this planet of structure.
The selection of an “excellent” male physique as a reference level, no matter its mathematical or philosophical justification, additionally echoed a part of the fascist ideology to which Le Corbusier proved shut.

This old school imaginative and prescient of standardizing and freezing a masculine illustration appears disconnected from the evolution of man and the variety that constitutes it. It’s most likely not the architect’s finest concept, even when it does arouse curiosity and turn out to be a part of his legend.

A single meter, synthetic however common

Conceived throughout the Italian Renaissance from a formulation linked to the oscillation of a pendulum, the “metro cattolico”, that means “common measure”, was scientifically outlined in France after the Revolution of 1789.
The metre corresponded to 1/10,000,000 a part of the gap from the North Pole to the Equator, measured on the Paris meridian.

The primary platinum customary meter is stored in Paris below the title “Mètre des Archives”.
A century later, in 1889, thirty platinum copies have been manufactured and distributed worldwide.

The issue with measuring requirements is that, regardless of the materials they’re made from, they will broaden or contract barely in response to temperature or humidity.
This is without doubt one of the explanation why, within the twentieth century, the measurement of the usual meter was dematerialized as soon as and for all, and calculated on the idea of the velocity of sunshine.

Discover out extra about the historical past of the metre.

Merci de respecter le droit d’auteur et de ne pas utiliser du contenu de cet article sans en faire la demande auparavant.

Si vous constatez des erreurs ou des inexactitudes, merci de m’en faire half !

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