Although it was designed as a religious structure, the church of Saint-Pierre in Firminy, France, looks more like a cross between an alien spaceship and a lopsided telescope. Its interior is just as ethereal, with tiny, circular windows dotting the wall above the pulpit like a constellation of stars, allowing thin streams of light into an otherwise darkened room.
The building’s designer, the famed modernist Le Corbusier, eschewed the established architectural tradition and became a pioneer of a more modern style that emphasized efficiency and utility over pure aesthetics. Due to its affordability and structural flexibility, Le Corbusier utilized concrete in many of his works, and Saint-Pierre is no exception, boasting grey walls that gradually slant upward as if teasing the eye towards the sky.
Completed 41 years after the death of Le Corbusier, Saint-Pierre was the last work to be constructed by the famous architect. Throughout its existence, it has been used as everything from a shelter to a school, and nowadays, it serves as a cultural venue in its community, as well as a tourist attraction. Visitors to the area can enjoy not only the church but also numerous other buildings in the surrounding neighborhood that were designed by Le Corbusier, from a stadium to a housing complex.
Know Before You Go
Open Wednesday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It's included in various tours that visit multiple arious Le Corbusier sites in the area.