Great Epoch With Mass Production Spirit Cultural Studies Essay

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'Le Corbusier's ideas on standardization and rationalism in the domestic sphere were clearly informed by ideas about the order of the nature- his enthusiasm for the homes of ants and honey bees and his continued references to the biology of the city'. (Flora Samuel 2007, p. 15) His motives in linked the nature with mass production is to provide cheap high-quality homes, less easy to grasp to connect people together through their shared use of standard elements and to make life simpler. In period of mass production houses, he most focuses on the spirit of 'constructing', 'living in', and 'conceiving' mass production house. As in the economic way, it was lead to highly spiritual matter about creating commonality between people and things. Hence clearly standardization would play a key role in such a process. For the mass-production houses will imposes unity in the various elements, windows, doors, methods of construction, materials. Factories are the place where to produce airplanes, lorries, and wagons. It also the best place for produces high- quality standard construction component of houses. Element would be constructed in metal-fabricators workshops and transport by trucks straight to the site, where it could be assembled in a matter of days. The standardized elements such as sheet metal ceiling unit, metal beams, cladding units, metal stanchions, windows, doors, kitchens, and sanitary fittings all were the factory production.

Mass production product

The mass-production product such as doors, windows, and cupboards which the big industry can supply just based on a common unit of measurement. All these can be adapted to one another exactly. The architectural unity is further gain of the greatest importance and by unit of measurement or means of the module and good proportion is assured automatically. (219, Le Corbusier, 1915) The solidly built houses will be a tool and it no longer sets out to defy time and decay which is an expensive luxury by which wealth can be shown. Houses will no longer be ancient entity or rooted in the soil by deep foundations, but it was build firm and strong. The mass production houses was the way of devotion on which the cult of the race or family. The mass production houses also known as 'house tool' which is available for everyone, it is incomparably healthier design than the old kind yet it beautiful in the same sense that the working tools.

Five points of architecture

Citrohan is one of the houses being built for the second International Exposition of the Deutscher Werkbund at Stuttgart which was a mass-production type in 1920. In the design the side walls which it had two load-bearing while the other end walls which being mostly glazed. An elaborate roof garden was design on a flat roof. Inside the living room of the small penthouse superstructure, it has a guest room which where most time would be spend here. It took up half the area and the whole height. In the house there were containing the other rooms in the ground floor and first floor which is being divided by the gallery. In the interior, there was a spiral stair which connected the living area level to the sleeping areas. With this it formed a sculptural counterpoint to serve rectilinear geometry of the hollow cube. The creation of interlocking spaces of different but related heights was one of major spatial ideas of Corbusier and it was applied in the Citrohan house in the first development. In all of Le Corbusier's work the idea of two-to-one space has been frequently used for theme ever since Citrohan.

For the other house, an open plan day-time living area was converted into small enclosed sleeping partitioned section at night with creative arrangement design of the movable partitions. In this design was containing Le Corbusier's five points' which were exhibit at the time of the Exposition. First was the using of same material of reinforced concrete for pilotis and floor which raised the house above the ground. It formed a rigid load-bearing skeleton, so it allowed the garden to continue under and trough the building. Second, the roof gardens are used for privacy and also to ensure the humidity level in the concrete structure. Hence it permitting the ground captured by the building to be freed suspended and hanging in the sky. Thirdly, the open plan, due to the very few structural system spaced column which mean do not require the support of closely spaced interior wall. As a result it was permitting free and open interior planning in the organization of partition and other space divisions. Fourth, the horizontal arrangement of ribbon glazing rather than vertical window is to provide a more even distribution of light through the interior of the building with extending from one structural column all the way over to the next one. According to Corbusier this create pockets of gloom next to rectangles of glaring light which unlike the old style window a hole punched into a structural wall. Finally the free facade of exterior walls; for satisfy the functional or aesthetic way it could be opened and closed at will which it released from their load bearing function. These all ideas of architecture were likened to the machine architecture which it is practical machines for living in. This new machine aesthetic led Corbusier to a rationalization of the effect of the machine upon the production of architecture. Corbusier discussed the problems and opportunities with supreme legibility of mass production in building, recognizing that such mass production would mean adherence to certain dimensional standards.

Figure 1. Le Corbusier illustrated his "five points" by pairs of sketches (above) where the traditional model was shown on the right and the new style on the left.(online)

The Modulor

"Architecture is a brilliant, orthodox and original jigsaw puzzle of masses combined in light. Our eyes were created to see the forms in light; light and shadow reveal the forms. Cubes, cones, balls, cylinders and pyramids are primary shapes that light so excellently reveals; the picture they give to us is clear and perspicuous without indecision. That is why they are beautiful forms." (Vers une architecture 1923) Corbusier look back to the traditional Renaissance rules of measure and a proportional in order to get some guide for the modern unit system. He started to analyze the famous proportional system of old which is 'Golden Section'. To avoid the system which lead to monotony based upon a 1 plus 1 plus 1 rhythm (ad infinitum), Corbusier felt that a system of proportion was the answer to the mass production of building parts but not of identical units. To serve the needs of mass production today, Corbusier took some time to develop a more refined system which is the Modular. With the Modular system with its proportionate scale, architecture building in 20th century no longer isolated due to the possible an infinite number of variations within a unit system of construction.

The Aluminaire (case study)

The Aluminaire (1931) was chosen for the case study. It was designed by architects A. Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey for the exhibition of Architectural League 1931 in New York. It was one of the earliest examples of modern architecture by a disciple of Le Corbusier.

The Aluminaire house was constructed with light steel and aluminum which is the first in America. Aesthetically, it is a pure forms which devoid of vernacular reference and metaphor, with independently design of a site. Although it was assembly of standard machined materials but it does not itself evoke the metaphor of machine, almost like the Citrohan project 1921 by Le Corbusier. The house was designed for low-cost, mass produces housing and, if it was produced in quantities of ten thousand or more would have cost only thirty-two hundred dollars. In the article of "Real Estate Subdivisions For Low-Cost Housing", Kocher and Frey further explored their ideals of improved land use and industrial production with two schemes which is use of minimally sized lots for single family low-cost building and improving the layout of the building. The schemes employed a prototype identical to the Aluminaire and disposed similarly to the Le Corbusier's Pessac housing of 1925.

Figure 2. The Aluminaire. Frey and Kocher. (online)

The Aluminaire represented the advanced architectural expression and advanced building technology and it exemplified of Le Corbusier's the 'Five Points toward a New Architecture' in a typically Le Corbusian fashion.

At the ground level there an open air porch which are a drive through garage, an entry, a dumbwaiter, and utilities. The floor above was encompasses the whole area of the volume. The bedroom with beds was suspended from the ceiling at here by separated from an exercise room and bathroom with a folding screen. The living room is pulled off the ground plane seventeen foot high with slender pilotis and to become double height piano nobile. The two story space, separated from the dining room by a built in glass and metal framed cupboard that houses an extendable dining room table. The table's rubber top retracts around a cylinder, somewhat like a window shade. The top floor contains a library, the bathroom with the cantilevered shower stall, and a roof terrace floored in resilient asphalt tile with a parapet sheathed on the inside in asbestos cement board.

Ribbon windows wrap the building, giving it a light and airy quality. It was designed for rapid assembly and disassembly with the notion that it could be relocated at the whim of the owner. Outdoor patio were provided, and the plan was left relatively "free".

The six five-inch aluminum pipe aluminum columns supported the frame structure which is minimally insulated with asbestos sheathing with column left exposed. The three inches thick exterior walls are non load bearing and it consisting of a steel frame, insulation board and wood nailers. The narrow ribbed aluminum is backed with insulation board covered with building paper on the exterior wall. This assembly is fastened with aluminum washer and screws.

As interesting and well conceived as the Aluminaire appears, it had no influence on the development of single-family home construction. At best, the aesthetic character was imitated in the form of steel-cage office buildings clad in pre-fabricated metal sheets and aluminum window frames.

Figure 3. The Aluminaire. Frey and Kocher. Image shows the house with suspended beds, automated garage door, rubber chairs, remote radio control, a dumb waiter, folding walls, and neon lights [ Gregory L. Demchak, May 18, 2000, (online) ]

As a three-story block with, ribbon windows, a roof garden, and freely composed facades, the Aluminaire House had much in common with a building Le Corbusier's detached single-family house (1927)

If the Aluminaire lacked the spatial complexity typical of a Corbusian plan libre, it nonetheless featured a combination living and dining area that stretched the full width of the house, with a double-height ceiling above the living space. This gave the house a feeling of openness despite its small size, a perception augmented by folding screens and translucent partitions that transformed individual rooms into flexible, multiuse spaces.

Using lightweight skeletal construction as building materials


Last but not least, Le Corbusier's theories had a strong social concern about "The machine that we live in is an old coach full of tuberculosis. There is no real link between our daily activities at the factory, the office or the bank, which are healthy and useful and productive, and our activities in the bosom of the family which are handicapped at every turn." Thus architecture is an instrument of restructuring the whole society, the rational alternative to revolution. The limitations and possibilities of the main building materials, ferroconcrete and steel, imposed homogeneity in building design, perhaps more than the material itself required. Plain white surfaces, an essential part of Le Corburies's aesthetics, had also deeper symbolic meanings. His ultimate aim was to create the spirit of constructing and living in mass-production houses. Architecture was the mould of modern spirit and modern man of the machine-age civilization.

Curtis, W. J. R. (2001) Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms. London, Phaidon

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Le Corbusier (2000) Towards a New Architecture. Oxford, Architectural


Le Corbusier (1987) The City of Tomorrow and its Planning. New York,

Dover Publications, Inc.

Le Corbusier (1999) Talks with Students. New York, Princeton Architectural