Modulor

From Academic Kids

The Modulor is a system of human proportions devised by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier (18871965).

Le Corbusier developed the Modulor in the long tradition of Vitruvian Man, the work of Leon Battista Alberti, and other attempts to discover mathematical proportions in the human body, and then to use that knowledge to improve both the appearance and function of architecture.

Le Corbusier published his first book on The Modular in 1948, then The Modular 2 (Let the User Speak Next) in 1955. The graphic representation of The Modular is compelling and, at first glance, convincing. A stylized human figure with one arm upraised stands next to two vertical measurements, the red series based on the figure's navel height (108cm in the original version, 1.13m in the revised version) then segmented according to Phi, and the blue series based on the figure's entire height, double the navel height (216cm in the original version, 2.26m in the revised), and likewise segmented. A spiral, graphically developed between the red and blue segments, seems to mimic the volume of the human figure.

Critics of the Modulor have pointed out a number of practical concerns with the system. The height of the figure appears to be arbitrary, chosen, perhaps, for mathematical convenience. The female body, in the words of reviewer Michael Ostwald, "was only belatedly considered and rejected as a source of proportional harmony". The system bears no relationship to actual anthropometric observations. There's no self-evident method to transfer these human dimensions to the spaces humans are meant to inhabit; for instance, you cannot use the Modular to derive comfortable tread length and riser height for a set of steps.

Worst of all, when Le Corbusier actually used his proportional system in the construction of the Unité d'Habitation in Marseilles, where a version of the Modulor is cast in concrete near the entrance, it resulted in famously uncomfortable low ceilings and other spatial problems.

A picture of the Modulor appears on the Swiss 10 CHF (http://www.snb.ch/e/banknoten/aktuelle_serie/persoenlichkeiten/content_10_b.html) banknote.

See also

Web resources

Nexus Journal review by Michael Ostwald (http://www.nexusjournal.com/reviews_v3n1-Ostwald.html)de:Modulor pt:modulor

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