The Modulor was a tape measure–style tool created by Le Corbusier in the 1940s to govern the distribution of objects in space. When he first conceived of the Modulor, Le Corbusier was a bureaucrat working in the fascist regime of Marshal Philippe Pétain. Six years later, the same tool played a role in the construction of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. In this essay, I recall the eight-year production history of the Modulor and trace its movement across different political regimes as an opportunity to ask how Modulor measurements became liberal. Attending in particular to the height and gender of Le Corbusier’s Modulor Man, I argue that the forgotten system of measurement has much to teach us about the affective economies that underpin modernity and ongoing practices of measurement.
Research Article|January 01 2019
Measurement and Modernity: Height, Gender, and Le Corbusier’s Modulor
Public Culture (2019) 31 (1): 21-43.