Friday, June 22, 2012



The chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, located in the small village of Ronchamp, near the French border with Switzerland, is the best-known work of Le Corbusier's, and one of the most emblematic masterpieces in modern architecture.

Photo courtesy of stublog

Frank O. Gehry argues that the problem with the chapel at Ronchamp is that it is impossible to hold back tears while visiting it. I can not say I reached that point, but certainly the pilgrimage to this small chapel was an overwhelming experience for me, both by the building and its powerful presence in the landscape, the composition of the volumes and the sublime use of light, all of which Le Corbusier amalgamated brilliantly, as well as by the memories of numerous architectural conversations about the chapel held with teachers, colleagues and students through the years.

After spending several hours in the place and having a lot of material to share with you, it is impossible for me to summarize this experience in just one post, so the discussion about this work will be divided into three entries: the first deals with the chapel's historical background, location on the site and landscape as well as the  "urban" elements that constitute the complex in Ronchamp. The second post will be devoted to the chapel's architectural, formal and spatial features, as well as some of its remarkable details. These two entries will be accompanied by Geoffrey Baker's analysis from his brilliant book "Le Corbusier. Analysis of Form." (I apologize that the citations will not be literal, by my translation from a Spanish version of the book).
Finally, in a third post I will refer to the nearby expansion project undertaken by the Italian master Renzo Piano.


Ronchamp is a small village nestled in a gentle valley, connected by train to Belfort, near the French border with Switzerland and Germany. Its occupation dates back to millennia, in fact the name "Ronchamp" comes from "Roman Camp".

Then occupied by the Celts and a small population during the Middle Ages, the town prospered  due to a coal mine that operated from the mid eighteenth century (remains of this industry can be seen from the road leading to the chapel).

Opposite the village lies a wooded hill. From its summit, one enjoys an important visual domain of the surrounding landscape, flanked by the Jura Mountains and from which nearby towns can be glimpsed, such as Mouriere to the north and La Selle to northeast, as well as the cemetery and the village of Ronchamp to the southeast.

"The idea was born in the brain, then wandered and grew indefinitely. I carefully drew the four cardinal points from the hill. As there are only four: to the east, Ballons d'Alsace; to the south, the cliffs; to the west, the plain of the Saône and to the north, a small valley and a village ... Day 4 June 1950. "
Le Corbusier

"The hill is crowned with a plain, which is accessed by a road that rises from the southeast; a group of trees enclose the site to the west and partially delimits the plain on the east side. 

The open space extends in a southeasterly direction, downhill,  up to the eastern boundary coinciding with the trees. Within this context, in the middle of a wooded and hilly terrain, the small plain is significantly closer to the western margin of the field with a view of the surroundings, but especially towards the south. "
Geoffrey Baker

LOCATION. A. "The access road comes from the southeast flanking the open space; the topography determined a slope to the southeast.
B. The site has an manifested obliquity . "

ZONING. C. "There is a state of confrontation circulation-building in the context of the obliquity of the site."
D. "Le Corbusier uses this obliquity to separate the entrance area of the assembly area."
Text and graphics: G. Baker.


Because of its visual properties, the hill have enjoyed a symbolic role for centuries. After the Roman occupation, a Celtic shrine to worship the sun was built at the top of the mountain.

View of the chapel at the top of the hill and the cemetery on its side. This mountain has had a symbolic significance since ancient times.

Later, in the fifteenth century a chapel was erected, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Heights, or Notre Dame du Haut. In the mid nineteenth century a tower was added, anticipating a series of renovations to the chapel, which became an important regional center of pilgrimage.

Left: chapel before the mid-nineteenth century. Right: enlargement in 1857.

In 1913 a fire left only the walls standing. The chapel was rebuilt in 1923 and completely remodeled in 1930 in NeoGothic style. During World War II the church was bombed and completely destroyed.

Remodeling of 1930, before the bombing in the Second World War

Then the religious authorities opted to rebuild it in a contemporary architectural style, that would seek to convey an abstract sense of sacredness. It was so decided to give the commission to Le Corbusier in 1950 (not without opposition, as the Swiss architect was an agnostic). Le Corbusier himself was reluctant to accept the commission, but he was convinced after visiting the site.


The complex is composed of several elements, leaded by the chapel, the esplanade, the residence of the monks, a memorial pyramid and bell tower.

The chapel is located eccentrically on top of the hill and is oriented east-west, nearly perpendicular to the access path.

To the west is located a bell tower, a very simple composition, comprising a metal frame holding 3 bells. 

A view of the chapel from bell tower.

To the east is a large esplanade, facing an outdoor chapel, that allows celebrations in front of a large number of pilgrims.

Le Corbusier had originally proposed an artificial slope arc in order to contain the space, but this was never implemented.

At the northern end a stepped pyramid is located, built with the remnants of the original church, which serves as a monument to peace.

Towards the southern end, and a in a lower area of the topography, stands a rectangular volume made of concrete, that contrasts in both form and color with chapel. This volume, perpendicular and closer to the access path, contains the residence of the monks and was designed by Le Corbusier in 1953 and completed in 1959. The building, austere and sober, has classrooms, library, refectory, kitchen and cells for monks.


We discuss this issue in the next post. Until then.

Photo courtesy of tochungyip



  1. Thank you very much for your two posts on Notre Dame du Haut. Fascinating and packed with information. Fabulous pictures too - takes me back to when I first saw her in the 1960s, when she and I were both a lot younger than we are now. I think maybe she's aged better than I have! ;)

  2. Discovered utilizing regards which will essential supplying that you simply. Chiropractic is within actuality a very wellness scenario through which foods difficulty past musculature remedy in addition to captivated remedy. Presently click the cash advance Regards permanently work.


  3. i am a freelancer and work according to contract, for more details contact us with the information provided below.
    Really i appreciate your hard work and amzing priceless information provided by you. One of the most important blog i read continiously.
    play game and win snapdeal lucky draw coupon 2019. contact us, play and win snapdeal lucky draw winner prizes.
    lucky draw snapdeal contact number 6289379055 call to get more information
    Lucky Draw Snapdeal costomer care number
    snapdeal lucky draw contact number
    snapdeal lucky draw contest winner 2019
    snapdeal winner lucky draw 2019 list
    snapdeal lucky draw helpline contact number
    snapdeal lucky draw winner list 2019
    snapdeal lucky draw 2019

    Best Regards
    snapdeal lucky draw winners 2019

  4. Our firm has established itself as the most trustworthy assignment help firm in Australia and globally. Join these thousands of students and achieve high distinction in each and every one of your college tasks. Anyone can attempt writing on your behalf, however, the question is would you pay someone to do it for you without checking their credibility? This is the main reason why most students search for online assignment help over the internet and choose only the most proficient and trusted academic writing experts. So, if you are searching for quality assignment help canada you can find it right here from the local canada Assignment Help experts.

  5. Your article is so convincing that I never stop myself from appreciating this. Thank you for posting this. If you want to PTE Institute in Panchkula visit
    Here at G-Sol we work on the basic ground work of English skills that you will need while residing in a foreign country and also to survive in the highly competitive academic environment in overseas. Not only do we assess speaking, listening, reading and writing, but we train our students for the test in an integrated way that reflects real-life settings, as well as academic skills.
    PTE Classes in Panchkula / PTE Coaching in Panchkula
    PTE Institute in Panchkula / PTE Course in Panchkula

  6. Your article is so convincing that I never stop myself from appreciating this. Thank you for posting this. If you want to Transport in Canada 2020 | Canadian Transportation Options for Getting.. visit
    Canada, the world’s second-largest country in terms of the area offers an effective, high-capacity multimodal transport bridging vast distances between resource extraction sites, agricultural and urban areas. Including the interprovincial commute system, Canadian transportation set-up oversees and regulates several aspects within federal jurisdiction.

    Transport in Canada 2020 | Canadian Transportation Options for Getting..
    Canadian Transportation Options for Getting
    Transport in Canada 2020

  7. Thank you for posting such a great article. Keep it up mate.

    CFMS |

  8. Thank you for posting such a great article. Keep it up mate.

    पीडीएस बिहार

  9. Thank you for posting such a great article. Keep it up mate.

    eeds login transfer

  10. Amazing Post. Such valuable information. Thanks for sharing with everyone.
    Do you want to know about the best Courses After 12th for science students? Then you have chosen the right path to know about the best available courses for a science student after 12th. You will find the available course here pretty easily because we have made it simple for you by placing a link here. You just have to click that link and get what you want.

  11. Thanks For Sharing This Post. Knowing about the effective strategy to select the Top Courses After 12th PCM is the most important factor. Usually, students could not decide what they need to choose to have a better job after they complete their courses, this is why they need to acquire the relevant piece of information is that they can be able to shape up their career with efficiency and get hired at the desired package of by reputed brand.

  12. Your website is really cool and this is a great inspiring article.
    It is very lucky to me to visit your website. We hope you continue to publish great posts in the future.

  13. Appreciating the persistence you put into your blog and detailed information you provide.
    I really love the theme/design of your website.

  14. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion.

  15. Decent blog and totally exceptional. You can improve however despite
    everything I say this perfect.Keep striving generally advantageous.

  16. Great info. Thank you for sharing this fascinating information together. I am so blessed to discover this. Feel free to visit my website; 야설

  17. A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post Also visit my website: 일본야동

  18. I found your blog while I was webs writing to find the above information. Your writing has helped me a lot. I'll write a nice post by quoting your post. Feel free to visit my website; 국산야동

  19. Thanks for sharing the info. I located the information very useful. That’s a brilliant story you posted. I will come back to read some more. Feel free to visit my website; 일본야동


  20. It’s always a pleasure to read your magnificent articles on this site. You are among the top writers of this generation, and there’s nothing you can do that will change my opinion on that. My friends will soon realize how good you are. Feel free to visit my website;

  21. Technologistan is the popoular and most trustworthy resource for technology, telecom, business and auto news in Pakistan

  22. What a nice post! I'm so happy to read this. 토토사이트추천 What you wrote was very helpful to me. Thank you. Actually, I run a site similar to you. If you have time, could you visit my site? Please leave your comments after reading what I wrote. If you do so, I will actively reflect your opinion. I think it will be a great help to run my site. Have a good day.

  23. 토토

    Hello there ! Wonderful blog post and quite useful. Good to check your web pages.

  24. 메이저놀이터May 11, 2022 at 7:21 PM

    Oh, the data you've shared in this incredible article is just magnificent. I am definitely going to make more use of this data in my future projects. You must continue sharing more data like this with us. 메이저놀이터

  25. Your article has answered the question I was wondering about! I would like to write a thesis on this subject, but I would like you to give your opinion once :D slotsite

  26. 뱃할맛이 나는곳 먹튀검증 안전한메이져