A Machine for Driving In

Le Corbusier, the Swiss/French architect and city planner (1887-1965; he’s the guy who wrote “A house is a machine for living in”), was a big proponent of the automobile.

Le Corbusier, the Swiss/French architect and city planner (1887-1965; he’s the guy who wrote “A house is a machine for living in”), was a big proponent of the automobile. And he understood that the industry that was growing during his middle years would require the transformation of cities, especially given that roads were designed primarily, especially in Europe, of modes of transport that weren’t powered by internal combustion engines. He saw how companies in the industry were changing the means and modes of production to create cars.

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As Antonio Amado quotes his in Voiture Minimum: Le Corbusier and the Automobile (The MIT Press, 2011), “The automobile is an object with a simple function (to run) and complex ends (comfort, resistance, looks) that has placed major industry under an imperious necessity to standardize. . .through the relentless competition of the countless firms that build them, each has found itself under the obligation to dominate the competition, and, on top of the standard for realized practical things, there has intervened a search for perfection and harmony outside of brute practical fact, a manifestation not only of perfection and harmony, but of beauty.”

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In France there is a celebration of Le Corbusier at the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, “Des voitures à habiter: automobile et modernisme XXe-XXIe siècles” (“Cars for living: the automobile and modernism in the 20th and 21st centuries”) at the Villa Savoye in Poissy running through March 20, 2016.

For this exhibition, Groupe Renault design teams developed a concept car, finding inspiration in the 1930s, considered by some as the “golden age” of the automobile.

The vehicle is called the “Coupe Corbusier.”