In 1961 the renowned architect Le Corbusier He was asked to design a parish for the growing neighborhood of Firminy-Vert. This marked his third foray into religious architecture, following his seminal works – the Chapel in Ronchamp You can also read about the La Tourette Convent. Le Corbusier collaborated closely with architect José Oubrerie, immersing himself in this project until his untimely passing in 1965.
Saint-Pierre Church Technical Information
- Architects: Le Corbusier, José Oubrerie
- Location: Firminy, Loire, France
- Topics: Religious Architecture Concrete
- Project Year 1973-2006
- Photographs: © Wojtek Gurak, © Richard Weil, © Pieter Morlion
Architectural forms are a beautiful and correct game of learning, combining them in the right order.
– Le Corbusier1
Saint-Pierre Church, Firminy Photographs
The Conception and Construction of Saint-Pierre Church, Firminy-Vert
The construction of the church was initiated in 1973 under the diligent supervision of José Oubrerie. In 1978, however, the construction was abruptly interrupted due to unforeseeable circumstances. The construction was only resumed in 2004, culminating with the grand inauguration on November 29th 2006.
Architecturally, the Saint-Pierre Church is a testament to Le Corbusier’s innovative design principles. The structure changes from a pyramid with a square base at the bottom to a cone-shaped structure towards the top. The vault of the church reaches a height of 33 metres at its highest point. The church’s upper section, which is a solid concrete shell, houses a main nave as well as a chapel for weekdays. Lower part of the church, with its large glazed facades is a dynamic space for exhibitions.
The acoustic qualities of the nave make it stand out. It offers an incredible 11-second long resonance, which enhances spirituality. Moreover, this architectural design allows a dynamic play with sunlight in the church. Both the intensity of light and the angle it is reflected at will change during the day.
The monument is illuminated with a radiant glow during the morning, when sunlight passes through the constellation of Orion etched onto the eastern façade. As the day progresses to the afternoon, the interior of the church is further animated by three “canon lights,” a characteristic feature of Le Corbusier’s architectural language. These apertures cast a prism of vibrant, colorful sunbeams across the nave’s walls, creating a visually stunning and spiritually uplifting atmosphere.
Fimniny Church: Facts and Figures
- Architectural Masterpiece: The Church of Saint-Pierre, in Firminy-Vert, is one of Le Corbusier’s last designs. A pioneer of modern architecture and a Swiss-French architect of renown.
- Posthumous Completion Le Corbusier started work on the church back in 1961. However, it was still incomplete when he died in 1965. The church was finally completed in 2006 by his student, French architect José Oubrerie.
- Unique Design: Architecturally, this church is an interesting structure. As it climbs, the square base becomes a truncated conical shape. The vault of this church reaches 33 meters in height.
- Light and Shadow: The church’s design allows for a dynamic play of sunlight within the interior. The morning sun streams through the representation of the Orion constellation On the eastern façade. In the afternoon, three “canon lights,” a characteristic feature of Le Corbusier’s architecture, cast colorful sunbeams across the nave’s walls.
- Special Acoustics: The church’s nave has a remarkable acoustics with reverberations lasting 11 seconds.
- Dual Purpose: The lower portion of the church is marked by its large glazed facades and serves as an exhibition area, giving a secondary function to the religious structure.
- Part of a Greater Complex: The church is part of a larger complex of buildings designed by Le Corbusier in Firminy, which also includes a cultural center, a stadium, and a Unité d’Habitation, demonstrating Le Corbusier’s ideas about communal living.
- Recognized Meaning: In 2016, UNESCO added the church and several other Le Corbusier works to its World Heritage List to recognize their significant contribution to modern architectural design.
Saint-Pierre Church, Firminy Plans
Saint-Pierre Church, Firminy Image Gallery
About Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier, whose real name was Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer, and one of the pioneers of modern architecture. Born on October 6, 1887, and deceased on August 27, 1965, Le Corbusier’s career spanned five decades, with his designs and theories extending beyond architecture into urban planning and visual arts.
Le Corbusier’s architectural style was largely characterized by minimalism and functionality, embracing reinforced concrete as his material of choice for its flexibility and expressive potential. His buildings, which were often geometric and distinct in design, featured open floorplans, roof terraces, large windows and natural lighting.
- Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier