From the Centre de Documentation to the Centrale de Recoordination (re-coordination center)

On November 20, 1920, Kahn founded, for a 100-year period, a public limited company with 10 million francs in capital, whose name was simply the Centre de Documentation.

Its purpose indicates the scope of his approach: “Scientific, social, economic, technical, commercial, industrial, financial and agricultural documentation.”


By including all of his foundations within the same structure, Kahn seemed to want to avoid any kind of fragmentary thinking. His confidence in technical progress had disintegrated: at the beginning of the 1930s, “technology” and “technocracy” appeared to him as factors of discord in all sectors of life. He wanted, he wrote, “to defragment the specialized mentality of professionals from the community.”


These ideas were already at work when he changed the name, in 1929, from the “Centre de Documentation” to the “Centrale de Recoordination.” Indeed, it was under this name, that he bequeathed to the University of Paris all of his creations. The mission of this department was nothing less than “re-coordinating” the planet, disrupted by the acceleration of technical progress and interdependency. The method was still the same, however: documenting all moments and all sectors, before converging them in order to thwart fragmentary approaches, the source of erroneous judgments.


He therefore took a step back from the vision of triumphant progress, inherited from the Enlightenment, and Saint-Simon’s technocracy. He did not deny science’s ability to improve humanity’s fate, but only if it was controlled by a “coalition of balanced elements fighting against imbalance.”