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
See all sites in Lyon

Details

Founded: 1956-1960
Category: Religious sites in France

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Michael Weisskopf (9 months ago)
You can calmly walk around the premises and enjoy the silence. If you can enjoy this masterpiece of brutalism is up to you.
Patrik Pastirčík (9 months ago)
From my view If can subscribe this place in one word, is it brutalism. Unique place in the nature, around old country. Really interesting. I was only outside.
Marek Bašta (11 months ago)
Enjoyed to the full despite the fact that the excursion was only in french. Highly recommend if you want to understand the idea of living for monks Le Corbusier created more than half century ago. Monstrous and solid from outside generous and intriguing inside.
Ivan Milonja (11 months ago)
Le Corbusier at it's finest!
Thys Roes (12 months ago)
Appreciate the intent of trying to reinvent the idea of a monastery. Appreciate the new ideas of Le Corbusier in architecture. The surroundings are beautiful. The building itself, from the outside, is probably the most hideous famous building I've ever seen in my entire life. Did not go on the tour so cannot judge about the inside. Maybe that would have eased my judgment. But man... What a bizarre building.
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