In December 2011, the Swedish car manufacturer Saab went into bankruptcy. The company had been mortally wounded since April when it ran out of cash, could not pay its suppliers and had to stop building cars. After eight months of extraordinary and desperate negotiations over potential rescues, it looked like Saab was safe when a sale was agreed with a Chinese manufacturer Youngman and distributor Pang Da. That deal was, however, called off as General Motors who owned Saab’s design patents considered copyright protection too weak in China and so expected its engineering would be pirated. So paradoxically, the designer’s favourite car will now disappear due to design infringement issues. The designer’s favourite? If we accept that a cliché contains at least a pixel of truth, then why was Saab seen as the Architect’s car? Was it because the driver wore black? What is the owner demographic? For the ten greatest Saabs in history: http://www.complex.com/rides/2009/12/saab-story-the-10-greatest-saabs-in-history
In the wake of Saab’s demise, which car manufacturers will architect’s now turn to? One way to project the future is to extrapolate the past. With the industrialisation of mobility, the modern age gained its definition. In Vers Une Architecture, Le Corbusier confirms his fascination with the morphologies and technologies of aircraft and automobiles. For Le Corbusier, the house was a machine à habiter, (‘a machine for living in’ or a kind of static car). One would have thought then that Corbusier would have embraced Saab given its unique position as being a manufacturer of both aircraft and automobiles (SAAB: Svenska Aeroplan AktieBolaget) yet his ‘vroom with with a rue’ was overtly French: the Citroen 2CV. Le Corbusier even named one of his houses the Citrohan 2 and his own design proposals (see below) belie a 2CV lineage. Le Corbusier’s ride is based upon an ideological preference for the affordable and the compact. Compare this with the contemporary architect: Zaha Hadid owns a London black cab; Nigel Coates owned a Jensen Interceptor; a licence-free Peter Cook walks… please feel free to email us your own carchitect.
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