Location: Eveux-sur-Arbresle, near Lyon, France
Project Year: 1957-1960
The Convent of La Tourette is Le Corbusier’s final building completed in Europe,
and is also thought by many to be his most unique program.
It was built to be a self-contained world for a community of silent monks,
and to accommodate the unique and specific lifestyle of the monks,
the monastery is made of one hundred individual cells, a communal library, a refectory,
a rooftop cloister, a church, and classrooms.
The one request to the architect by Father Marie-Alain Couturier was that
he “create a silent dwelling for one hundred bodies and one hundred hearts.”
More on Le Corbusier‘s Convent of La Tourette after the break.
The architecture of Le Corbusier is distinguishable for its five key elements,
which are present in the late Modernist style of the Convent of La Tourette.
The more obvious of these in this specific project are the pilotis,
or load-bearing columns, which line the inside walls and open the facade to long strip windows.
The classic grass rooftops create an architectural promenade,
relating back to the Villa Savoye, although the context of the convent is very different than of the residence.
The interior of the church reveals a concrete box which is given a spiritual essence through its use of natural light and strong color,
both selectively and carefully placed. “Light cannons” are created as the five different types of openings around the church let in daylight, several of which are graciously sculpted on the exterior.
The colors are also present in these openings, which give the church a warm and evokative glow.
As of now, the monument has housed people for around forty years, welcoming visitors, architects, architecture lovers and students from all over the world. Today it functions as a meeting place for different disciplines connected to the human sciences and philosophy.