A Strange Little Chapel

Only a couple of days ago I realised that my route plan for this trip was taking me fairly near to a building that has fascinated me for over forty years. Not only that, but the story of the man behind the building I find equally compelling.

The building in question is the Chapel of Notre-Dame du Haut and the man is known simply as Le Corbusier.

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, Le Corbusier, was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland in 1887. He trained first as an artist, before branching out as an architect, town planner, writer and humanist. He was a prominent figure of the modern art movement and is credited as a leader in what is today called “modern architecture.” He was a pioneer in the use of reinforced concrete as an architectural art form. He died in France in 1965.

Le Corbusier’s most famous religious work is the chapel of Notre-Dame du Haut, built in 1955 on a hill overlooking the town of Ronchamp. image

It was to this beautiful hillside that I turned Baby late this afternoon. In a way I was undertaking a bit of a pilgrimage and I wasn’t disappointed.

The predecessor to today’s Chapel was sadly destroyed at the end of World War Two, but it gave Le Corbusier a blank canvas with which to work for its replacement.

The building is highly irregular in both plan and section, frankly I find it stunning. image

Le Corbusier wanted light to become integral to the design so the roof doesn’t actually sit on the walls! It is standing on a series of columns with the walls providing a filling, at the top of the walls, which themselves are perforated in windows, are thin glass fillets that allow light to shine through and make the roof appear to be sitting on a cushion of light.image

Externally I found the building stunning enough, but inside took my breath away!

I don’t normally get very excited about religious buildings, yes I love the great medieval cathedrals for their impressive structural engineering; I like the wonderfully quirky Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and there’s a very small old church in Dorset that once quite charmed me, but nothing compares to this Chapel!

I wandered in and for a moment just stood taking it in; before, almost overcome by the atmosphere, I had to sit down on a simple bench against the wall furthest from the main altar. The place just oozed peace and tranquility.image

When the building was opened in 1955 Le Corbusier said;

“By building this chapel, I wanted to create a place of silence, prayer, peace, inner joy.”

Well, he certainly did that.

I don’t honestly know how long I sat there, I just didn’t want to leave and I really could feel an inner peace. imageI’m not at all religious these days, but you know, something reached out and touched me there and I feel better for it.

Catch you soon.


3 thoughts on “A Strange Little Chapel

  1. Pingback: Trip Planning | Hogrider Dookes

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