11 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut by Le Corbusier

 

October 5, as everyone who follows Minimae knows, was the International Day of Architecture, and this event has led us to decide to debut a series of posts related to the Icons of World Architecture of the 20th Century, according to Minimae.

What’s all this about? It’s very simple. While studying and selecting these 20 icons (of which you only know 5 at this point…), we realized that, besides being magnificent projects, they were chock full of magnificent anecdotes. There’s no way around it: grand icons have grand stories to tell.

We’ll start with Minimae’s favorite icon (which likely won’t be the same as yours – beauty is in the eye of the beholder).

Today we’re talking about 11 facts that you DIDN’T know about the chapel of Notre Dame de Haut by Le Corbusier.

1- The chapel in Ronchamp is so unusual for Le Corbusier’s style that itdeparts from all of his principles of construction. We doubt that if you saw it for the first time without knowing its history, you’d be able to name the architect.

Capilla de Notre Dame du Haut. Le CorbusierOne of the views of the chapel of Notre Dame de Haut

2- Le Corbusier was obsessed with the hill in Ronchamp where it is situated, and that obsession was because it was possible to see the horizon, preferably blue, from its four sides.

 

Capilla de Notre Dame du Haut. Le Corbusier. Vista aérea de la colinaAerial view of the hill in Ronchamp

3- Besides that, the hill had always been a sacred place. Currently the chapel is a Catholic one, but previously it belonged to the Celts, who turned that same spot into a strategic place to worship the sun.

Dos imágenes de la capilla de de RonchampTwo images of the chapel of Ronchamp in the mid-19th century before Le Corbusier

4- And the previous point was also an obsession for Le Corbusier, who was convinced that it was a sacred place, a point of energy that connected the hill with its surroundings.

5- Le Corbusier also conceived the chapel in the style of the Acropolis. You can only see it in its entirety when you reach the end of the path up the hill, after climbing all the way up.

4- And the previous point was also an obsession for Le Corbusier, who was convinced that it was a sacred place, a point of energy that connected the hill with its surroundings.

5- Le Corbusier also conceived the chapel in the style of the Acropolis. You can only see it in its entirety when you reach the end of the path up the hill, after climbing all the way up.

cuatro imágenes exteriores de la capilla de Notre Dame du Haut

7- In 2011, architect Renzo Piano inaugurated the expansion of the chapel, which in no case would interfere with its vision, but merely “open it to the landscape”, as the architect said.

ilustración de la ampliación de Renzo Piano. Notre Dame du HautIllustration of the addition by Renzo Piano. Notre Dame du Haut

8- The main door of the chapel contains artwork by Le Corbusier himself, which in this case is fairly representative of his style.

Puerta principal de la capilla de Notre Dame du Haut

9- Frank Gehry says that the biggest problem with the chapel is that “it is impossible to observe it without crying”.

10- Despite its grandiose organic shapes, the interior of the chapel is rigorously sober, where cement, concrete and diaphanous spaces are the main elements.

 

Interior de la capilla de Notre Dame du HautInterior of the chapel of Notre Dame du Haut. Austere. Very austere

11- And the light. Because the light inside the chapel is one of the reasons why the great Frank Gehry couldn’t stop crying when he was inside it.

Interior de la capilla de Notre Dame du Haut. luminosidadInterior of the chapel of Notre Dame du Haut. Divine light?

And now comes our offering, aposter of the chapel of Notre Dame du Haut. Blue, lots of blue, just as Le Corbusier wanted to see his work from the four cardinal points. And as a poster only gave us the possibility of showing one angle, Carmelo Ros opted for this one. Is there a best angle? All of them. Every one of them has something different to show, something that will surprise you, something that will bring tears to your eyes. This angle, too. This is the interpretation of Carmelo Ros:

Capilla de Notre Dame du Haut. Carmelo RosInterpretation of the chapel of Notre Dame du Haut by Carmelo Ros (Limited series of 150 prints)

LE-CORBUSIER

The chapel incorporated in a living room. (Limited series of 150 prints)

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