priory Our Lady of La Tourette
A brief description.
The priory of Our Lady of La Tourette at Évreux-sur-Arbresle, near Lyon, is built 1957-1960. Not long after the chapel in Ronchamp (1950-1955), a creation of Le Corbusier (Charles Édouard Jeanneret (06.10.1887-27.08.1965), was finished, M.A. Courturier, O.P. (15.11.1897-?), director of the magazine Art Sacré, maked a proposal to Pierre Belaud, O.P. Provincial of the Dominican Province of Lyon, to ask Le Corbusier to design a priory at Évreux-sur-Arbresle near Lyon, - the Priory of St. Mary of La Tourette -, in the midst of nature, located in a small vale that opens out onto the forest.
Corbusier endeavoured to find a modern interpretation to the requirements of the Order as laid down by its Rules. The use of bare concrete and stark forms seemed very appropriate.
The priory proper is built on an uneven site in a U-shape which corresponds to
the idea of the 'cloister'; the end of the U is closed by the chapel. There is a very special kind of relationship existing here between the architecture and the landscape.
Le Corbusier. Switzerland 1972, Mi 981, Sc 548.
There is a small chapel with a series of altars arranged on different levels. The cylindrical light-canons on the roof illuminate the interior with light which varies according to the colour painted on the inner surface of the coloured cylinder.
The architecture of this section recalls the paintings of the Purist Movement.
The bell-tower can be found immediate above the cylindrical light-cannons attached to the corner and protruding left.
A stylistic analysis of this work (types of balconies, modulations in the areas of glazing employed in communal rooms, etc.) reveals that it is derived from the experiments made by Le Corbusier into different forms of housing unit, while the atmosphere and architectural style of the church are certainly closely related to the Ronchamp Chapel.
The hundred individual cells for the teachers and students, are placed around the overhang, wrapped around three of the outside edges and expressed as brises-soleil.
The communal portions of the monastery are set in the recessed lower level.
The refectory is situated at one level down from the entrance floor, but since the site is sloped so steeply, it provides a splendid view over the meadows.
The chapel is entered from this lower level too, but is entirely inward-looKing and is a full triple volume in height. There are "found objects" like a triangular skylight or a protruding balcony are spread around the entire structure.
This particularly applies to the chapel which protudes into the inner courtyard supported by a cross style of two intersecting piloti with its triangular steeple atop.
Priory of Our Lady of La Tourette is built by Le Corbusier, in Évreux-sur-Arbresle, 1957-1960.
Contours of the priory.
France 2001. Machine postmark L’Arbresle, 13.02.01.
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