Hitorical Theory and Design of Le Corbusier

Notre-Dame-Du-Haut/ Le Corbusier


Figure 1

“The key is light and light illuminates forms and forms have emotional power. By the drama of proportions by the drama of relationships unexpected, amazing…”

Le Corbusier[ 1 ]

Le Corbusier, besides named as Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, was one of the great European designers in the 20Thursdaycentury and designed legion sums of edifices across the universe although of all Le Corbusier’s spiritual work, those built, or those which remains as thoughts, the Notre-Dame-du-Haut chapel at Ronchamp is both the most well-known and the most cryptic. Its organic signifier, usage of abstract forms, and combination of coloring material, texture, visible radiation, and sound are the major factors towards the modern art of the period. The chapel manner of architecture is known as the International Style, Sculptural Style, Brutalism, and every bit good as Expressionist Modern[ 2 ].

The site is located on the upland at the top of the hill and there is an attack path which ascends from the south E, with trees giving some enclosures to the West and restricting the upland on its western side. The original site had been a popular finish for pilgrims since the thirteenth century. Ronchamp community was little, population of 200, but on the holy yearss of the pilgrim’s journey it can acquire up to the 10 1000s of pilgrims and would deluge the chapel and the surrounding hill. The original chapel of Ronchamp was destroyed in a lightning fire during the 1910s and so was re-built. Then World War Two broke out, the chapel of Ronchamp was destroyed due to the German heavy weapon fires.

Father Pierre Marie Alain Couturier was sent to offer Le Corbusier for the undertaking on reconstructing the chapel. Surprisingly, Le Corbusier ab initio refused the committee for this undertaking stating that he did non desire to work for a ‘dead institution’ , perchance because of the resentment that he felt about the Church’s rejection of the Basilica at La Sainte Baume. His helper Andre Wogenscky, a Gallic designer in coaction with Le Corbusier, recorded a conversation in which the Le Corbusier told Father Couturier, the Dominican priest who had such a clear influence on his ritual apprehension, that he had no right to work on the strategy and that they should happen a Catholic designer alternatively. Harmonizing to Wogenscky ;

“Father Couturier explained to him that the determination to inquire Le Corbusier had been taken in full consciousness of the state of affairs, in the cognition that he was non spiritual. Finally, he said: ‘But Le Corbusier, I don’t give a darn about your non being a Catholic. What I need is a great artist… you will accomplish our end far better than if we asked a Catholic designer: he would experience bound to do transcripts of ancient churches’ . Le Corbusier was brooding for a few seconds, and so he said: ‘All right, I accept.’”

Andre Wogenscky[ 3 ]

The first deduction of “rough” studies that Le Corbusier did, for the chapel, was to look into the skylines puting about in Ronchamp so the chapel can be fitted in the landscape. And so there are merely four skylines ; to the E, the Ballons d’Alsace ; to the South, a little vale ; to the West, the field of the Saone ; to the North, another little vale and a small town. This gives each facade of the edifice a ground to react to different attitudes: welcoming, observing, service and symbolism. However, the first study of the site was merely a few lines that summarised all of the cardinal elements of the edifice as it was so constructed such as

We will write a custom essay sample on
Hitorical Theory and Design of Le Corbusier
or any similar topic only for you
Order Now
the infinites defined by the curving walls and the form of the roof.“These characteristics, imbued as they are with a sense of malleability, are declarative of a reclamation of church architecture using architectonic agencies ( in other words, non trusting merely on the inclusion of plants of modern art ) .”[ 4 ]

The roof was inspired by the crab-shell – which Le Corbusier had picked up the crab shell on the beach of Long Island in 1946 – though critics have interpreted the inclining curve as forms diverse as a nun ‘s wont or a boat. Its roof sculptural character dramatizes the power and flexibleness of the concrete to unify the organic volumes. A infinite of several centimeters between the shell of the roof and the walls provides a important entry for daytime. This type of planing the roof reflects earlier plants of Le Corbusier’s: frequently, thin piles supported a big lodging block, go forthing the land floor hollow and unfastened.

“ Le Corbusier raises the roof for symbolic grounds associating to the Assumption. Levitation is amazing because it denies the Torahs of gravitation. Therefore, by denying our expectations—that roofs remain affiliated to buildings—Le Corbusier signals Ronchamp’s visitants that they are present at a marvelous supernatural event. ”

http://www.greatbuildings.com/gbc/images/cid_1213222047_Ronchamp23.jpgRobert Coombs[ 5 ]

Figure 2

The edifice has three towers and three doors, the one to the E for the pilgrims to entree the exterior chapel for mass folds on yearss of pilgrim’s journey. The towers are made of rock masonry and are topped with cement domes. There’s another light gaps in the chapel, which are the signifier of the chapel towers. The thought of the chapel towers is influenced by the studies of the Serapeum of Hadrian’s Villa in 1911, in which the chuckhole at its terminal is dramatically illuminated with visible radiation. The towers appear in the inside as apsiss, settled the enlargements of the room. These white painted apsiss are lighted with indirect visible radiation from above shed thaumaturgy visible radiation over the curving walls.

http://ad009cdnb.archdaily.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/1288307698-ronchamp-elyullo.jpgThe light creates the consequence of enclosed infinite. Although the inside is non to the full illuminated, as it is, for illustration, the Jubilee Church by Richard Meier. The difference between the comparing of Notre-Dame-du-Haut and the Jubilee Church is the sum of visible radiation that pollutes the country. The Jubilee Church has both facade of north and south covered with glass panels leting the full strength of the natural visible radiation in the church whereas the Notre-Dame-du-Haut merely allows the light seaming from the spreads between the ceiling and the walls, and the familial visible radiation from the chapel towers. In footings of contrast, the Notre-Dame-du-Haut is dark, as some Gothic churches, foregrounding the drama of visible radiation and underscoring the sanctity of the infinite.

Figure 3

Light is a symbol of faith so in the past architectural designs of the Gothic churches took this construct to the extreme as visible radiation is one of the most of import component of any spiritual construction and besides it gives the infinite an aeriform quality. The type of visible radiation joined with verticalness of the infinite produce an ambiance of Highness, lift and magnificence, and this method of utilizing visible radiation has influenced the other designers such as Kenzo Tange in his Tokyo Cathedral and Tadao Ando in his Church of Light, for illustration. The similarity between the Notre-Dame-du-Haut, Tokyo Cathedral and Church of Light is that they all relied on deriving the natural visible radiation, whereas the visible radiation is its supporter.

http://ad009cdnb.archdaily.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/1288287366-ronchamp-pieter-morlion-528x352.jpgAnother beginning of visible radiation is from the South wall, where the visible radiation penetrates through the little ports covered with stained colored glass that cast a great trade of reflected visible radiation into the dim room and from the outside these ports seemed to be merely bantam Windowss, but inside they open up into big white ports. The form of the ports in the midst wall is cut implicitly and widen, leting the visible radiation to gently melt indoors. Thus this shows that the visible radiation is in the laterality of the inside in the chapel and the visible radiation is its faith.

Figure 4

The walls around the interior act as acoustic amplifiers, particularly in the instance of the eastern outside wall that echoes the sound out over the field from the out-of-door communion table moving as the speaker unit for the standing pilgrims. Le Corbusier wrote that the signifier of the chapel was designed in order to make the ‘psycho-physiology of the feelings’ , but non to carry through the demands of faith.“As in the Basilica at La Sainte Baume, it was Le Corbusier’s purpose to make full each visitant to Ronchamp with a sense of the transforming and renewing power of harmoniousness, as manifested through coloring material, sound and signifier in the belief that it was possible to alter behavior through impacting the feelings.”[ 6 ]Sound would play a critical function in transporting a sense of harmoniousness. The Chapel’s beginning is its laterality, the music – ‘music and architecture’ in Le Corbusier’s position ‘being two humanistic disciplines really near in their highest manifestations’ . It was Le Corbusier’s purpose that here ;

“They will be able to do unbelievable music, an incredible sound when they have twelve thousand sand people outside with amplifiers. I said to the priest, ‘you should acquire rid of the sort of music played by an old amah on an old organ – that’s out of melody – and alternatively hold music composed for the church, something new, non sad music, a loud noise, an unhallowed din’ .

Le Corbusier[ 7 ]

The outside of the chapel and the milieus are both united in such a manner that the landscape is called in to lend in the religious work of architecture. From a distance, the pilgrims can see the white tower lodging out of the forests and the more the pilgrims climb up the hill the more of the white walls of the chapel will be revealed and this type of path is influenced by the path to the Parthenon, a temple in Athens. Knowing the fact that Le Corbusier was brought up as a Protestant and in ulterior life adhered to no peculiar religion but Le Corbusier stated:“I have non experienced the miracle of religion but I have frequently known the miracle of unexpressible infinite, the ideal of plastic emotion”[ 8 ], transforming spiritual architecture into the material of his modern architectural vision.

Shortly before the dedication in the summer of 1955, Alfred Canet, who was the secretary for the local edifice commission, wrote to Le Corbusier, stating that a little brochure was to be prepared for the gap, explicating the narrative of the edifice. He asked the designer for a statement, but the answer was indirect, inquiring Canet alternatively to make the account of the 5th volume ofOeuvre complete;

“I have no more complete account to give, since the chapel will be before the really eyes of those who buy the brochure. That is better than most facile speech” .

Le Corbusier[ 9 ]

Ronchamp has ever troubled international architectural critics particularly Modernists and Rationalists. Its popularity and profusion of degrees of communicating merely swamp expostulations about its aberrance from Modern Movement beliefs about truth to stuffs. In his ain testimonies, Le Corbusier recognised that it was an exceeding brief:‘1950-55. Autonomy: Ronchamp. A wholly free architecture. No programme other than the jubilation of the Mass – one of the oldest of human establishments. One respectable personality was ever present – the landscape, the four skylines. They were the 1s in command…a pilgrim’s journey topographic point on specific yearss, but besides a topographic point of pilgrim’s journey for persons, coming from the four skylines, coming by auto, train and airplane.Everyone’s traveling to Ronchamp.’[ 10 ]( L.C. , Textes et Dessins pour Ronchamp ) . Charles Jencks ( an American architecture theoretician and critic ) considers that the Notre-Dame-du-Haut was the first edifice with the Post-Modernism manner and has caused jobs for Modernists and Positivists such as Nikolaus Pevsner ( a British historiographer of architecture ) , quoted ;

“The edifice that blew apart the Modernist colony was Le Corbusier’s bantam church at Ronchamp, designed in 1950 and opened in 1955. This really first Post-Modern iconic edifice drew an iconoclastic tantrum of gunshot from every side, particularly fastidious Modernists and Positivists such as Nikolaus Pevsner. They looked on every aberrance from the right-angle as a sin.”

Charles Jencks[ 11 ]

The citation described the Notre-Dame-du-Haut as the edifice with no right-angles in every “corner” . Modernism architecture follows a “form follows function” and “truth to materials” impression, intending that the consequence of the design should come from its intent and that none of the stuffs should seek and be concealed as something else. Although Post-Modernism follows same doctrine but uses more cylindrical and unprompted forms opposed to purely rectangles, and horizontal/vertical lines. Within the twelvemonth of the dedication, James Stirling wrote the evasive remark sing the Modernism and Post-Modernism of the Notre-Dame-du-Haut chapel ;

“It may be considered that the Ronchamp Chapel being a ‘pure look of poetry’ and the symbol of an ancient rite, should non hence be criticised by the principle of the modern motion. Remember nevertheless that it is a merchandise of Europe’s greatest designer. It is of import to see whether the edifice should act upon the class of modern architecture… , and surely the signifiers which have developed from the principle of the limited political orientation of the modern motion are being mannerised and changed in a witting imperfectionism”

James Stirling[ 12 ]

Two months after the completion of Ronchamp in June 1955, Le Corbusier wrote letters to Alfred Canet, the cure , and Marcellin Carraud, a attorney from Vesoul and a outstanding member of the local edifice commission and the words scribed are more than the common courtesy of an designer composing to his client ;

“After being off for two months I greet you and inquire if you are pleased. It seems that after all this great attempt by a batch of people things have succeeded. You are doing a base, defying a great many assaults and answering to a great many inquiries. You must hold been worried at times. However you have been one of the brave people in the escapade. I wanted to state thank you to you, for Notre-Dame-du-Haut is understanding and that of the Committee this roseola endeavor could hold come up against the obstacle”

Letter from Le Corbusier to his client[ 13 ]

Giving some grounds why Le Corbusier was chosen as the designer, a member of community, Father Belaud, has explained ;“Why? For the beauty of the monastery to be born of class. But above all for the significance of this beauty. It was necessary to demo that supplication and spiritual life are non bound to conventional signifiers, and that harmoniousness can be struck between them and the most modern architecture, supplying that the latter should be capable of exceeding itself.”[ 14 ]


[ 1 ] – Geoffrey H. Baker ( 1984 ) . Le Corbusier An Analysis of Form. Hong Kong: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Page 211.

[ 2 ] – Bonbon. ( 2003 ) . Notre Dame Du Haut. Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //everything2.com/user/Bonbon/writeups/Notre+Dame+Du+Haut. Last accessed 10th February 2014.

[ 3 ] – Flora Samuel ( 2004 ) . Le Corbusier Architect and Feminist. Great Britain: John Wiley & A ; Sons Ltd. Page 119.

[ 4 ] – Arthur Ruegg ( 1999 ) . Le Corbusier. Switzerland: Birkhauser. Page 103.

[ 5 ] – Bonbon. ( 2003 ) . Notre Dame Du Haut. Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //everything2.com/user/Bonbon/writeups/Notre+Dame+Du+Haut. Last accessed 10th February 2014.

[ 6 ] – Flora Samuel ( 2004 ) . Le Corbusier Architect and Feminist. Great Britain: John Wiley & A ; Sons Ltd. Page 119.

[ 7 ] – Flora Samuel ( 2004 ) . Le Corbusier Architect and Feminist. Great Britain: John Wiley & A ; Sons Ltd. Page 120.

[ 8 ] – Le Corbusier ( 2000 ) . The Modulor. Germany: Birkhauser. Page 32.

[ 9 ] – Russell Walden ( 1977 ) . The Open Hand Essays. USA: MIT. Page 300.

[ 10 ] – Michael Raeburn and Victoria Wilson ( 1987 ) . Le Corbusier Architect of the Century. Great Britain: Susan Ferleger Brades with Muriel Walker. Page 249.

[ 11 ] – Charles Jencks ( 2012 ) . The Story of Post-Modernism: Five Decade of the Ironic, Iconic and Critical in Architecture. Great Britain: John Wiley & A ; Sons Ltd. Page 187.

[ 12 ] – James Stirling ( 1956 ) . Le Corbusier in Perspective. Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //www.arranz.net/web.arch-mag.com/5/recy/recy1t.html. Last accessed 10th February 2014.

[ 13 ] – Russell Walden ( 1977 ) . The Open Hand Essays. USA: MIT. Page 301.

[ 14 ] – Geoffrey H. Baker ( 1984 ) . Le Corbusier An Analysis of Form. Hong Kong: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Page 212.


[ Figure 1 ] – Notre Dame Du Haut Front Facade ( hypertext transfer protocol: //ad009cdnb.archdaily.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/1288287321-ronchamp-528×352.jpg )

[ Figure 2 ] – Notre Dame Du Haut Interior confronting East Wall ( hypertext transfer protocol: //www.greatbuildings.com/gbc/images/cid_1213222047_Ronchamp23.jpg )

[ Figure 3 ] – Notre Dame Du Haut Aspe ( hypertext transfer protocol: //ad009cdnb.archdaily.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/1288307698-ronchamp-elyullo.jpg )

[ Figure 4 ] – Notre Dame Du Haut Interior confronting South Wall ( hypertext transfer protocol: //ad009cdnb.archdaily.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/1288287366-ronchamp-pieter-morlion-528×352.jpg )


We will write a custom essay sample on
Hitorical Theory and Design of Le Corbusier
or any similar topic only for you
Order Now