Sainte Marie de La Tourette

Lyon, France

Sainte Marie de La Tourette is a Dominican Order priory on a hillside near Lyon designed by architects Le Corbusier and Iannis Xenakis. It was constructed between 1956 and 1960. Le Corbusier's design of the building began La Tourette is considered one of the most important buildings of the late Modernist style. In July 2016, the building and several other works by Le Corbusier were inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Under the instigation of Marie-Alain Couturier the Dominicans of Lyon charged Le Corbusier with the task of constructing the priory on a hillside at Éveux. The buildings contain a hundred bedrooms for teachers and students, study halls, a hall for work and one for recreation, a library and a refectory. There is also a church, where the friars worship, and the circulation, which connects all the parts (the achievement of the traditional cloister form is rendered impossible here by the slope of terrain). On two levels, the loggias crowning the building (one for each acoustically isolated monk's cell) form brises-soleil. The study halls, work and recreation halls, as well as the library occupy the upper-level. Below are the refectory and the cloister in the form of a cross leading to the church. And then come the piles carrying the four convent buildings rising from the slope of the terrain left in its original condition, without terracing.

The structural frame is of rough reinforced concrete. The panes of glass located on the three exterior faces were designed by Xenakis. On the other hand, in the garden-court of the cloister, the fenestration is composed of large concrete elements reaching from floor to ceiling, perforated with glazed voids and separated from one another by 'ventilators': vertical slits covered by metal mosquito netting and furnished with a pivoting shutter. The corridors leading to the dwelling cells are lit by a horizontal opening located under the ceiling.

Built as a chapel, residence and place of learning for Dominican friars, the monastery groups around a central courtyard a U-shaped mass, and the court is closed off by the chapel at the end.

At La Tourette many aspects of Corbusier's developed architectural vocabulary are visible – the vertical brise-soleils used with effect in India, light-cannons piercing solid masonry walls, and window-openings separated by Modulor-controlled vertical divisions. In contrast with Ronchamp, the building does not crown and complement the site, but instead dominates the landscape composition.

If there is harmony, it is in the finishes that in their roughness and near-brutality betray some empathy with the life of a friar. La Tourette makes no claim to the effete bourgeois lifestyle embodied at the Villa Savoye; its antecedents, if anything, are the Greek monasteries of Mount Athos and an almost mythological history.

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Address

La Tourette, Lyon, France
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Details

Founded: 1956-1960
Category: Religious sites in France

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Catriona Potts (5 months ago)
Built by Le Corbusier (who was commissioned "to dwell in the silence of men of prayer and study and to construct a church for them") is an amazing place. It's a model of simplicity and (obviously) functionality, but it also has a striking religious feeling. The church is the best part; it may look like a giant empty room but it invites silence and reflection.
HOYEON (12 months ago)
One of Le Corbusier’s masterpieces remaining in France, good to see the guide line for the modern architecture.
Adrian Lo (2 years ago)
A significant piece of architecture by Le Corbusier with Iannis Xennakis for the Dominican Order. Particularly, this building shows Corbu's use of light cannons, expressive use of concrete, and a mathematical rhythm of architectural elements. Definitely worth visiting if coming to Lyon.
Voyageur V. (2 years ago)
Very interesting place. A nice, beautiful park around a very atypical monastery, on the French hilly countryside not very far from Lyon. A cool way to spend a sunny afternoon. Recommended.
Ashley Helvey (2 years ago)
Truly a religious experience. Definitely worth staying solo for a few nights if you can get a room. By far one of Corbusier’s most impressive works and the fact that you can actually stay here makes it so special. Rooms are perfect, beds super comfortable, staff is friendly and accommodating. Make sure not to miss a service, I cried it was so beautiful.
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