Sunday, March 28, 2010

Regulating lines #1 - Le Corbusier

This is a post on my knowledge about 'regulating lines'.

Le Corbusier (1887- 1965) was one of the best known 20th C. modern architects.
As an architectural student I was so aware of him that I remember where I was when he died.
He wrote a book, The Modular, about visual relationships - a study on where to put what and why. Among other things he postulated a series of interlocking dimensions based on human scale, the Fibonacci Series, and the Golden Section.

In the book Corbu mentioned an associate, Jerzy Soltan, who was in my time, Dean of the Harvard School of Design. With amazing bravery for me, I, a student at MIT, called Professor Soltan to ask for a private reading class. He agreed. The first book he assigned was Dynamic Symmetry, by Jay Hambridge, an investigation of the Golden Section.

That year at MIT we had a series of visiting professors. I asked each of them privately if they used the Golden Section. Although they told me they did, they never mentioned it in lectures. It was considered a kind of magic.

I have Corbu's numbers posted beside my drafting board. I use them. I also use the Golden Section. When a client asks for a wing on an old house, I explore the existing pattern of the house - using the square, the diagonal, the permutations of the Golden Section - to help me read the regulating lines of the house so my design can be sympathetic to what is already there.
A note on the Fibonacci Series: any 2 numbers if added to each other will, within 6 calculations, become the same ratio:
1+2= 3, 2+3= 5, 3+5=8, 5+8=13, 8+13 = 21, 13+21=34 21/34 =0.617
1234 + 789=2023, 789+2023=2812, 2023+2812=4835, 2812+4835=7647, 4835+7647= 12,482
7,647+12,482 = 20129 12,482/20,129 = 0.620

Try it yourself.

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