Notre Dame du Haut – Ronchamp, Frankrijk - Atlas Obscura

Ronchamp, Frankrijk

Notre Dame du Haut

A Roman Catholic chapel by Le Corbusier in the countryside. 

Notre Dame du Haut (Our Lady of the Heights) is a Roman Catholic chapel designed by the famous Franco-Swiss architect Le Corbusier. It was built in 1955, and is one of the finest examples of his architecture.

This chapel is often seen as a more extreme design of Le Corbusier’s late style. Some have described Ronchamp as the first Post-Modern building, and others as the first building of the Expressionist Architecture movement after World War II.

It departs from Le Corbusier’s principles of standardisation and the machine aesthetic, giving in instead to a site-specific response. At the time of construction, Corbusier was not exactly interested in “Machine Age” architecture. Also, he realized when he visited the site that he could not use mechanized means of construction, because access was too difficult.

As an example, the floor of the chapel follows the natural slope of the hill down towards the altar.

Le Corbusier also built an outside altar and pulpit, so large crowds could sit or stand on a vast field on the top of the hill. This explains why you will find a statue of the Virgin Mary in the chapel that is encased in a special glass box in the wall, that can be turned to face inward when the congregation is inside, or to face outward toward the outdoor visitors.

The chapel, a working religious building under the guardianship of the private foundation Association de l’Œuvre de Notre-Dame du Haut, and it seems that it is not funded nor supported financially by the Catholic church.