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Notre Dame du Haut


The chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, designed by Le Corbusier, is located in Ronchamp. The Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut, a shrine for the Catholic Church at Ronchamp was built for a reformist Church looking to continue its relevancy. Warning against decadence, reformers within the Church looked to renew its spirit by embracing modern art and architecture as representative concepts. Father Couturier, who would also sponsor Le Corbusier for the La Tourette commission, steered the unorthodox project to completion in 1954.
This work, like several others in Le Corbusierís late oeuvre, departs from his principles of standardization and the machine aesthetic outlined in Vers une architecture. It is interesting to note though, that even in this project, the structural design of the roof was inspired by the engineering of airfoils.
This historical legacy weaved in different layers into the terrain ó from the Romans and sun-worshippers before them, to a cult of the Virgin in the Middle Ages, right through to the modern church and the fight against the German occupation. Le Corbusier also sensed a sacral relationship of the hill with its surroundings, the Jura mountains in the distance and the hill itself, dominating the landscape.
The nature of the site would result in an architectural ensemble that has many similitudes with the Acropolis, starting from the ascent at the bottom of the hill to architectural and landscape events along the way, before finally terminating at the sanctum sanctorum itself, the chapel.
The chapel is clearly a site-specific response. By Le Corbusierís own admission, it was the site that provided an irresistible genius loci for the response, with the horizon visible on all four sides of the hill and its historical legacy for centuries as a place of worship.
The building itself is a comparatively small structure enclosed by thick walls, with the upturned roof supported on columns embedded within the walls. In the interior, the spaces left between the wall and roof, as well as asymmetric light from the wall openings serve to further reinforce the sacral nature of the space and buttress the relationship of the building with its surroundings.

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Additional Photos by Csaba Witz (csabagaba) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 591 W: 172 N: 1399] (6554)
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