2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France © RPBW
2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France ph. Iwan Baan
2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France ph. Georges Engel
2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France © Michel Denancé
2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France © Michel Denancé
2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France © Michel Denancé
2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France © Michel Denancé
2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France © Michel Denancé
2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France © Michel Denancé
2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France © Michel Denancé
2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France © Michel Denancé
2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France © Michel Denancé
2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France © Renzo Piano Building Workshop -Ph. Florian Bolle
2006-2011

Ronchamp Gatehouse and Monastery

Ronchamp, France

The Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp was designed by Le Corbusier and is one the 20th-century’s most important works of architecture. For years now it has been a heavily frequented site of international cultural tourism, so much so that the site needed urgent attention in order to restore the spirtual and religious dimension originally intended for Ronchamp by its architect. In a wider effort to improve the area, the Œuvre Notre Dame du Haut commissioned Renzo Piano Building Workshop to design a convent for the Poor Clare sisters, as well as a small new building to welcome visitors, the Porterie. Hugging the hill’s slope, the new buildings are protected architecture with a resolved interior featuring large picture windows that frame the woods and its light.

More Info

When Le Corbusier was working at Ronchamp on the restructuring of a small medieval Marian church, a place of popular worship destroyed by bombs in 1944, he often went up to the top of the Bourlémont hill “to gain familiarity with the ground and horizons.” The Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut (1950-1955) was to be one of his most intense and unusual projects, a clear and strong work steeped in introspection and worship. It was the building’s sense of silence, combined with the ‘acoustics of the landscape’, which inspired the project for the new Poor Clare convent. Located on the slope of the hill at the edge of a wood, it cannot be seen from the Chapel with which, although physically apart, it has a close spiritual relationship. The new convent means the site now has a permanent resident community, and this, together with the other improvements made to the welcome facilities and the landscape as a whole, has contributed to the restoration of the site.

The convent is a small building made of pale cement that compliments the red Bourlémont rock that surrounds it. It is composed of a series of living units for the nuns with a common area and offices, and a linear building of the same size housing guest quarters. A small separate oratory built into a hill not far away also blends in with its surroundings. The building’s flat roofs are planted and here and there, slender strips of zinc window awnings can be seen.

The overall design is based on a repetitive pattern of the living units (2.70x2.70x 2.70m), modularity being a very rational principle for construction, but also because this minimalist approach fits in well with the principles of the discrete and active community spirit of the Poor Clares. All of the spaces are imbedded in the hillside and the south western facade of each unit has a small winter garden that looks out towards the acacia and chestnut woods. The repeated use of a single building material – bare pale cement – gives the project a unified visual impact while occasional fields of colour light up the interiors, accompanied by the presence of the wooden furniture, and the glass and the aluminium of the window frames. The sense of introspection and peace, and the spatial quality of the rooms, are further enhanced by the immaterial presence of silence and light.

Credits

Client: Association Œuvre Notre-Dame du Haut, Association des amis de Sainte Colette.

Renzo Piano Building Workshop, architects
in collaboration with Atelier Corajoud, landscape architects (Paris)

Design team: P.Vincent (partner in charge), F.Bolle with N.Boutet, C.Eliard, C.Klipfel, L.Lemoine, N.Meyer, J.Moolhuijzen (partner), M.Prini, D.Rat, E.Rossato-Piano, V.Serafini, and A.Olivier, M.Milanese, L.Leroy; O.Aubert, C.Colson, Y.Kyrkos (models)

Consultants: SLETEC (structure, MEP and cost control); M.Harlé (graphics and signage); C. Guinaudeau (planting); Nunc / L.Piccon (project co-ordination); P.Gillmann (construction management)

Drawings


© RPBW

© RPBW

© RPBW

© RPBW

© RPBW

© RPBW

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