Saturday, June 30, 2012



The first part of the article on the famous Modernist masterpiece, Le Corbusier's the chapel of Notre-du-Haut, was devoted to discuss the building context, both about the importance of its location in the landscape of Ronchamp as well as the historical background before Le Corbusier to accept the commission of the chapel.
This entry is dedicated to the architectural features of the building itself as well as some notes on its construction process.


It may seem paradoxical that the best-known work of Le Corbusier appears  away from its traditional rationalist discourse (in the same way as the best-known work of Frank L. Wright 's, the Fallingwater House, seems to move away from its organicist principles). However, the building reflects some principles of modern architecture, as its austerity, its openness to the community and its conception as a contrasting element in the landscape.

The chapel owes its shape to its relationship to the landscape. Each of the facades responds to different attitudes: welcome, celebration, service, symbolism. The roof sculptural character dramatizes the power and  malleability of the concrete to compose organic volumes. All these elements come together to create a mystical and dramatic interior space in which light is the protagonist.

Schematic plants and cutaways. 3D Model courtesy of Villa


Le Corbusier's genius lies in providing the visitor of a different perception of the building from any angle he/she sees it, while maintaining harmony, dynamism and coherence. This feature forces the visitor to walk around chapel in order to fully understand it, adding a fourth dimension to the architectural composition: movement.

The south facade

The concave wall welcomes visitors ascending from the path. Its broad-based triangular section seems to be a continuation of the hill, rising to support the roof.
The southern wall is quite wide in the vicinity of the entrance (3.7 m) but it narrows and gets higher at the other end (1.7 m).

The wall thickness is evidenced by the random pattern of rectangular windows of different size and orientation, whose apparent disorder is used to create an interior lighting effect, as discussed below.

The entrance is flanked by a vertical an semi-cylindrical element, one of the three chapels under the three minor chapels included in the church. The access is also stressed by changing its color to concrete and separating it from the white wall and curve.

The door itself has an painting by Le Corbusier, in the manner of other of his works, such as the Assembly of Chandigarh , for example. However, for years this door has been closed, and the access to the chapel is through the back door.

Other elements in the access are two small concrete blocks that form a virtual frame.

East facade

Facing a large concourse of the pilgrims, this concave façade also houses a small external chapel.

This is where you can appreciate the power of the roof volume, protruding above the chapel.
Besides the roof, the chapel is framed by the south wall and a semicircular volume, which together form a "cave" that emphasizes the receptive character that was to give in this area, or as a "stage" that emphasizes its vocation as a focal point in the landscape.

The wall is perforated by tiny square fenestrations and there is a glass box which keeps a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Complement the composition some elements of exposed concrete elements, as the table and the pulpit, and a simple metal cross.

North facade

The northern facade combines the functions of service: a secondary entrance and stairs. This more private character is characterized by its convex shape. Facing it, there is a space which is bounded by trees, where it originally stood a bell tower that was never built.

The most striking features of the facade are the two chapels flanking the secondary access: both are symmetrically arranged around the axis of the door. However, their curved shape invite to access to the interior.

West Facade

It is the only blind facade, which links the convex front with the rear facade. From here  the nature of the chapels is more evident, semi-cylindrical towers with lateral incisions. Their verticality is a counterpoint to the horizontality of the building.

In the center of the wall is located a gargoyle, the only visible part of the roof, which collects rain water and drain it to a concrete fountain sculpture underneath.


"Above the drawing board I have the shell of a crab collected in Long Island near New York. It will be the roof of the chapel: two layers of concrete 5 cm thick and separations of 2.26 m. The shell will be sustained on recovered stone walls. "

One detail that I had not realized until the visit was the fact that the roof is separated from the walls by a thin slot. This feature is most evident from the inside, and demonstrates the architect's interest in suggesting lightness of the cover, despite its massiveness. The roof is supported by hidden columns in the walls, which are not load bearing.

"The shell has been placed on the walls that are absurdly but practically thick. Inside them however are reinforced concrete columns. The shell will rest in these columns but  it will not touch the wall. A horizontal  crack of light 10 cm wide will amaze."
Le Corbusier.

Photo courtesy of Pieter Morlion


The protagonist of the interior is, without doubt, the light. But, unlike what I had imagined, the interior is not fully lit, as it is, for example, the Jubilee Church by Richard Meier . By contrast, the church is rather dark, as some Gothic churches are, emphasizing the drama of light and accenting the sacredness of  the space.

The most striking effect comes from the south wall, one that enjoys major solar incidence and where light penetrates through the small openings of colored glass. The shape of the windows in the thick wall, is cut obliquely and widen, allowing the light to gently fade inside.

In contrast, the east wall, where the altar is placed, has small windows which from the inside look like stars. The edge of the walls is demarcated by a line of light, separating them from the roof.

Another source of indirect light are the chapels. Light enters and diffuses laterally across the rough surface of the curved walls. The type of light coupled with verticality of the space produce an athmosphere of highness, elevation and sublimity, a resource that has since been used by many architects such as Kenzo Tange in his Tokyo Cathedral , for example.

Photo courtesy of ilgattodiviadeimacci

The exquisite conception of the light is emphasized by the simplicity and austerity of the interior furnishings. The floor is made of exposed and is inclined slightly towards the altar. The benches are arranged at an angle away from the altar, I think that is to strengthen it as a focal point in the space.


"The construction of the wall was made ​​on the basis of angular columns. The lateral bracing shown in the section of the internal elements represented by the continuous line,  while the external, by the discontinuous one".

"In the preliminary sketches Le Corbusier shows how the cover was designed as supporting trusses arranged in a north / south direction and supported by walls corresponding to these orientation, which were built of stone. The necessary stiffness was provided by the form of the chapels and the irregularity of the northern wall. The south wall is made reinforced concrete. " G. Baker. 


"The chapel is a statement of contrasts, formal contrasts in reference to a richness of referrals over vital circumstances. Figures are vigorous and serene: the walls contain fragments of interior space, but also they allow other points to extend; coexist stability and stress, anxiety and peace: the direct and indirect lighting is mysterious and glowing, sometimes variable, sometimes not.

Photo courtesy of Ricardo avella

The forms are continuous elements that are disrupted in precise incisions, in response to the program of external and internal needs, the chapel is extroverted and introverted. Nothing makes explicit the complexity of an exposure referred to in the same range of lighting and figures that induce the contours of the holes spread over the south wall. This "penetrable" wall, inside, becomes countless sparkling luminous figures, set against the its pressure, apparently suspended in the air as a result of their separation and elevation relative to the wall. The inclined inner wall is also opposed to its outer face with a castle  look and massive appearance.
The chapel features in many ways the maturity of the work Le Corbusier work... The meaning ... is not the explicit and literal transcription of the machine era, is a statement of allegorical interpretations of nature which, by reduction, interprets its own existence."
Geoffrey Baker.(not a literal citation, but a translation from Spanish)


Other Works by Le Corbusier

- "Beyond the mere theory, what didi you feel inside and outside this space?" a good friend asked me.
- "In a word: POETRY" 


  1. dear sirs , i love photography and architecture . please if you like give a little of your precious time to watch :

    i spent passion and love to make it . many thanks , regards mario caruso

  2. was just wondering where you got the geoffrey baker quote from? i'm doing a project on this building and the quote would be very helpful to use, however i need the citation before i can use it. thanks

  3. love quotes
    I am really getting prepared to over this data, is extremely useful my companion. Likewise extraordinary blog here with the greater part of the important data you have. Keep doing awesome doing here.

  4. I've been previously searching for stories such as this for the way a lot of time. Merely exactly thankful that we established your personal. Impatient for your thread.xbmc tv box

  5. I read your post a d i really like your post.Thank you for sharing this post.
    Architectural lighting design
    Show lighting design

  6. I would really like to regards for endeavors you will attain on paper below we will. We're in hopes an identical perfect feature through a people at a later point likewise. These days press combined with follow-up Cash Advance Carson Thanks once and for good succeed.

  7. Enjoy it suitable submission which usually. I presume much like any time I know a lot more this particular in comparison with I did so before. It will be easy to follow-up mysql backup Good luck suitable wonderful succeed.

  8. I’m happy to found this informative blog, thank you so much for sharing with us. Get the most promising website designing services by ogen infosystem delhi.
    Web Design Company in Delhi

  9. Nice blog, keet it up for more updates about this blog. Visit Mutual Fund Wala for the best Investment schemes and mutual fund companies.
    Investment Advisor in Delhi

  10. Students should ensure that quality of essays offered match their prices.All affordable research paper writingshould ensure that customers’ private details are kept in privacy.

  11. Thank you for sharing this informative post.My Assignment help is giving assignment help to students.we are already trusted by thousands of students who struggle to write their academic papers and also by those students who simply want Online English Homework help to save their time and make life easy.

  12. Assignment Help provides required assistance to all students who require reliable support for composing their academic papers. For more explanation, visit greatassignmenthelp and quote your order as soon as possible.
    Assignment Help Online
    Online Assignment Help
    Assignment Help Online Services
    Assignment Helper
    Assignment Assistance
    Assignment Help Experts
    Online Assignment Help Services

  13. Assignment help websites offer round the clock customer support service for your queries regarding any other subjects.Java Assignment help

  14. Here is an online essay maker help you write any sort of write-ups like essays, assignments, articles etc quickly. Our essay help service enables you to produce a quality essay that reflects your personality and intellect. We understand how difficult it is to produce an essay that decides your fate. Just share your order details and hire essay writing help expert at cost effective rate now.

  15. I suggest everyone to choose Assignment Help Australia for getting the best guidance in their academia. The proficient experts assist as per the requirements and learning styles desired by the university.

  16. Excellent information Providing by your Article, thank you for taking the time to share with us such a nice article. Amazing insight you have on this, it's nice to find a website that details so much information about different artists. Kindly visit livewebtutors website we providing best assignment help services in Australia.
    Read more now :- My Assignment Help

  17. Thank you for sharing valuable information. Nice post. I enjoyed reading this post.
    pay someone to do assignment
    write my essay

  18. A very high level post with a knowledgeable information .thanks you for giving me such a nice information. If you need any college level Assignment Help at reliable quality with better work. Kindly visit livewebtutors website we providing best assignment help services in Australia, USA, UK, UAE, and Canada etc.
    Read more now :- Assignment Help