Pilgramage to Ronchamp

A visit to the Chapelle  Notre Dame du Haut is probably the most important pilgrimage for any Architect as well as a lot of artists.  This singular work has probably been a primary inspiration in any Architect’s first inclinations to become a designer of buildings and spaces.  I well remember as a beginning Architecture student spending a great deal of time studying images of this fantastic and intriguing structure.  The splendid contrasts of  soft curves, straight lines, and textures all are all brought together in a perfect harmony of order to produce a building that is overpowering in its expression.  It is one of the best examples I know of that is truly both building and sculpture.

sketch Ronchamp 1

The interior spaces delight as well.  The interplay of natural light and structure produces a grand stage for worship.  How light enters the building is in itself an art form.  At times, light enters through rectangular splayed windows, and in doing so the light entering is carefully modulated by the splayed (angled) surfaces adjacent each window, producing a very soft glow on those surfaces which helps soften the contrast of the bright natural light.  And I particularly love the thin slit of light where the heavy undulating roof structure rests atop the walls, accentuating the soft curved form of the roof and preventing this part of the interior from being lost in darkness.  Even the windows themselves are specially designed with some colored glass and written words, which adds another element of surprise.



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