The Machine For Living
Le Corbusier referred to the “New House” (the new way of living in and experiencing a house) as the “Machine À Habiter” / “Machine for Living”, adapting this house for the industrial revolution which had been changing the world since the beginning of the 20th Century.
From this moment on, architecture would need to prepare for the death of artisanship, paving the way for rationalisation, industrialisation and prefabrication. The house, viewed as a machine, would be a useful object
constructed by assembling industrial pieces in much the same way as a car, plane or ship is put together. For this reason, Le Corbusier declared the need to create the then non-existent “Set of construction components” which would make the industrialisation of architecture possible.
Le Corbusier believed that the objective of architecture was to generate beauty (his saying “Architecture is a scientific, correct and wonderful game of volumes assembled under light” is also widely quoted), and that this beauty should influence the ways of life of those who lived in these buildings.
As for the criteria of a “Machine for living”, Le Corbusier was fascinated by the new machines of the time, especially cars and planes, viewing those with designs which were practical and functional as a model for a type of architecture whose beauty would be based on practicality and functionality: rationalism.
An avid follower of all technical and technological advances, in reinforced concrete he saw the solution to many problems troubling the architecture of his time. With this new material he built the foundations of a NEW ARCHITECTURE. With the reinforced concrete he dared to design PILOTIS (columns) which would support houses, separating them from the ground. This new material allowed him to design flat roofs which would hold his innovative ROOF-GARDENS. The architect also promoted the FREE PLAN: the reinforced concrete meant that load-bearing walls no longer defined the distribution of space and, therefore, the different floors of the building were not bound by this same distribution. Another important change brought about by the use of this new material is the windows. All these technical optimisations shaped the creation of a completely new construction model:
- Structural and aesthetic principles which Le Corbusier used, which stem from his theoretical conclusions:
- External pillars supporting the structure
- Independence of the structure and the external and internal walls
- Open plan to create fluid spaces
- Facades free of ornamentation
- Rooftop garden
- The habitable units consolidated the concepts of this modern idea of living
- He incorporated principles of functionality and economy, seeing in architecture a way to organise the urban environment and offer humans better options. The objective was to create lodgings for the body, the spirit and the soul.
- Architecture should be “indissolubly linked with nature”. This led him to the profound certainty that the universe possesses a resounding simplicity and is economically beautiful.
Currently, architecture feeds off those great architects of the past, in which LE CORBUSIER was the precursor of the industrialisation of architecture, with very clear foundations in functionality and rationality. We have come a long way from the beginnings of the machine for living, when its evolution was theorised. This theory has now become the common practice, and prefabrication intrinsic to modern architecture.