L'œuvre architecturale de Le Corbusier,
une contribution exceptionnelle
au mouvement moderne
Serie

Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette, 1953

The Couvent Sainte-Marie de La Tourette is a unique synthesis of the achievements of the Modern Movement, combining Purist forms, Brutalist textures and revolutionary solutions in terms of living space.

Built on a square U-shaped plan, to the north off by the nave of the church, the convent is directly inspired by Cistercian models. Implanted on steeply sloping ground, it finds its “bed”, in the architect’s words, on the crest of the hill and comes to terms with the declivity by means of the pilotis. From the path that runs along the ridge of the hill, you accede directly to the third of the building’s five levels. Above this floor, devoted to study and seminars (library and workrooms), are levels 1 and 2 exclusively reserved for monks’ cells. An accessible terrace, connected to the roof of the church by a footbridge, is covered with a thin layer of insulating earth. Levels 4 and 5 below the floor are truncated by the slope of the land. Level 4, dedicated to the collective life of the community (refectory, chapter, atrium), is served by two wide corridors forming a cross in the courtyard centre. These circulation spaces, known as “cloisters”, also lead to the church.
The lowest level, the fifth one, placed directly on the ground, is reduced to two separate building blocks: under the refectory, the kitchen and a common room, and under the church, the cellars. A spiral staircase, wrapped in an external turret, directly connects the seminar wing to the level 4 dining hall and level 5 kitchen.
The church forms the northern wing, independent of the rest of the convent. It is in the form of a simple “box” of raw concrete, covered by a roof terrace accessible from the west wing by a footbridge. Inside reigns the greatest austerity. A few steps separate the choir from the wooden and concrete stalls. Three “light cannons” diffuse light coloured by the wall paints (blue-yellow-red) in the adjacent “ear-shaped” north chapel.

Light functions here as an element in the service of exceptional spatial innovation. Le Corbusier deploys a whole range of devices to control natural light, sculpting space and volumes: light cannon, light gun, light ray, loggia, and undulating glazing, a device invented together with Iannis Xenakis and used here for the first time.

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Coupe en élévation du couvent avec légende
Plan FLC 01210

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Croquis du couvent
Plan FLC 01234

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Vue axonométrique du couvent montrant rampe avec silhouettes, croquis et cotes
Plan FLC 01244

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Ph. non identifié
FLC L1(7)40

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Vue intérieure, une cellule
Ph. non identifié
FLC L1(7)99

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Vue du couvent
Ph. Olivier-Martin Gambier

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Façade sur cour intérieure
Ph. Olivier-Martin Gambier

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Façade intérieure
Ph. Olivier-Martin Gambier

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Façade intérieure
Ph. Olivier-Martin Gambier

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Galerie donnant accès à l’église, pans ondulatoires
Ph. Olivier-Martin Gambier

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Détail de l’église
Ph. Olivier-Martin Gambier

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Les autels de la chapelle latérale éclairés par les canons à lumière
Ph. Cemal Emden

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Le réfectoire
Ph. Olivier-Martin Gambier

Couvent Sainte-Marie-
de-la-Tourette
Couvent Sainte-Marie- de-la-Tourette

Vue d’une cellule
Ph. Olivier-Martin Gambier

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