It was in 1945 that Le Corbusier finally closed the researches on proportion that he had conducted for twenty years, and which had won for him, ton years previously, the degree of Dr. h.c. in philosophy and mathematics of the University of Zurich.
Those researches were brought to an end in view of the immediate task to be undertaken, one national as well as universal. Throughout the world, people must build, manufacture and prefabricate; products will travel from province to province, from country to country, from continent to continent. A common measure must be discovered !
Various measures are now in use :
The inch and foot by the British (it kept their architecture related to human proportions in spite of the machine age). The meter, derived from the meridian of the globe, is an artificial and arbitrary measure that has nothing to do with human proportions and which, as a result, has led to a certain disintegration in the architecture of those countries which used it.
In view of the immense task of manufacture and prefabrication to be completed, a unified scale of measurement based on the human body had to be created, a highly significant mathematical expression capable of giving innumerable combinations that are really satisfactory and above all harmonious.
After the defeat, a committee to study the means of prefabrication (AFNOR) was formed in France. Le Corbusier was not invited to join the committee. After years of work this committee arrived at the result of a simple arithmetical standardization (in progressions from 2 to 2 or from 10 to 10 cm). Such a decision can only be arbitrary and a limitation; in fact we do not find any such precarious law in nature.
Quite on the contrary, nature offers us mathematical proportions of an abundant richness in ail her phenomena. For a year now Le Corbusier has been making all his architectural drawings with the “Modulor” he created. The engineers and architects of his offices use it every day to great advantage.
Professor Einstein (in Princeton, New York) expressed the following opinion with regard to Le Corbusier's invention : “It is a language of proportions which makes it difficult to do things badly, but easy to do them well”. This is a patented invention.