Sun-Worshippers/The Chapelle Notre-Dame
"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." -Albert Einstein
While Corbusier's masterpieces are celebrated, we often forget that there are great clients who provide the opportunities for masterful creations to shine and be appreciated, even after the architects and designers have passed. Dominican friar and stained glass window designer Father Couturier sponsored two important projects by Le Corbusier in the early 1950s: the Chapelle Notre-Dame and La Tourette.
Corbusier's visions may have been created immediately upon receipt of a commission; however, some of the beautiful effects would not have been conceived while he was designing. For instance, the beautiful light at the Notre-Dame in Ronchamp. Natural light--such a sensitive but major element--would have been an instinctive risk when Corbusier sketched the Chapelle Notre-Dame.
I wrote about the church in a previous blog, but I did not note the light. At times, the simplest architectural elements, such as light, can be overshadowed with superfluous exterior surfaces, shapes, and forms. But at the Notre-Dame in Ronchamp, the softly diffused light heightened the experience.
I felt the sensuously displayed light wells, those that allowed the movement of natural light to play with curved wall surfaces. The flooded light washed the tilted floor of the church, and welcomed my visit. Visiting the pools of light on the floor, I was entertained by the reflections of bright colors and scripts, reflections from the stained glass above.
Many of Corbusier design details are inspiring in many ways. The simple lights, we cannot ignore.