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ARCHITECTURE INTERRUPTUS

A RCHITEC TUR INTER RUP

january 27 - april 15, 2012

The Church of Saint Pierre, in Firminy, France, was designed by

pivotal 20th-century architect Le Corbusier with a young associate, JosĂŠ Oubrerie, in the early 1960s. Now, after years of delays and

interruptions, Oubrerie is bringing the project to fruition. Featuring

historical and contemporary photographs, sketches, and drawings,

and a newly commissioned model, the exhibition strives to bring the experience of the building to the Wexner Center galleries.

presented by the wexner center for the arts at the ohio state university


ARCHITECTURE INTERRUPTUS

ARCHITEC TUR I NTE R RUP Wexner Center for the Arts


This publication accompanies the exhibition Architecture Interruptus Wexner Center for the Arts The Ohio State University January 26–April 15, 2007 Curator Megan Cavanaugh Novak Curatorial Assistant Rachel Choto Exhibition Designer Patrick Weber Graphic Designer Wendy Qi Architecture Interruptus was organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts. Major support is provided by Capgemini, NBBJ, and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. The catalogue is made possible by a generous gift from Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown. Additional support for the exhibition comes from Linda and Jim Miller, auto·des·sys, The Columbus Chapter of The American Institute of Architects, Robert and Sally Wandel, Merilynn and Tom Kaplin, Myers Financial Services LLC, the Corporate Annual Fund of the Wexner Center Foundation, and Wexner Center members. Accommodations are provided by The Blackwell Inn.

Published by Wexner Center for the Arts The Ohio State University 1871 North High Street Columbus, Ohio 432101393 USA Tel: +(614) 2920330 Fax: +(614) 292-3369 www.wexarts.org © 2006 Wexner Center for the Arts The Ohio State University Library of Congress Control Number: 2006939610 ISBN 10 Digits: 1-881390-42-X ISBN 13 Digits: 978-1-88139042-8 Distributed by D.A.P. Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. 155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd Floor New York, New York 10013 USA Tel: +(212) 627-1999 / +(800) 338-2665 Fax: +(212) 627-9484 www.artbook.com


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CONTENTS Director’s foreword

Introduction

39

45

José oubrerie

Contemporary drawings


7

9

22

A time for freedom

Contemporary photographs

56

62

73

Construction documentation

Grandeur is the intention

Historical drawings


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DIRECTOR’S FORWARD If, as one leading critic proclaims, the Eglise Saint-Pierre de Firminy “almost a triumph for Le Corbusier,” it is in any case an unqualified triumph for José Oubrerie, the architect who, against all odds, brought the church to fruition some forty years after it was begun. As a young apprentice in Le Corbusier’s atelier, Oubrerie worked closely on the church, only to see the project founder upon the master’s death in the mid-1960s. With only its concrete foundation poured, the project remained for decades relegated to preemptive ruin—a poignant vestige of what had never been and what might never be. Meanwhile, Oubrerie established his own reputation as a professor and an architect with such masterworks as the Miller House in Kentucky and


Contents

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All photographs in this section by Luis Burriel Bielza


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the French Cultural Center in Damascus, Syria. But he never forgot the Firminy church; over time his relationship to the project would transform from an architectural to an existential commitment. As Oubrerie writes,

What does it take to defy architectural historians, experts, Corbusian zealots or detractors... if not something which was initiated in the 60s, born out of one of the constant dreams of one singular man who transferred the task to one of his then assistants to continuously diminish the part of the unknown, to bring to existence this thing which kept growing in the 70s to the point of being partially cast in concrete and became suddenly frozen awake? What is it even more to be called upon three years ago to bring out of this long coma such a project which did not want to die, having been strong enough by itself, by its own nature and its antecedents, to resist demolition.... 1 And herein lays both crux and crucible: a rare convergence of supreme will, fortune, talent, and tenacity that conjures from abandoned dreams a concrete reality, despite improbable odds and rampant skepticism in the academy of peers. For what does it mean to posthumously complete the work of another, especially when the other in question is long since enshrined in the pantheon of architectural gods? Moreover, how dare something at once aspire to the historic and the contemporary? With what audacity and cheek does the one-time

apprentice take up the pen and summon the redress of the master’s original design intent, now proven ill-conceived? And how does one reconcile the ambiguity of authorship in a project that looms so large on the landscape of architectural history? These are the questions we seek to probe in presenting Architecture Interruptus at the Wexner Center for the Arts. In doing so, we also honor Le Corbusier L’église Saint-Pierre à Firminy, 1963 Lithography on paper, ed. 29/275 Collection Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne Métropole the unlikely accomplishment of José Oubrerie, a colleague who for the last fifteen years has contributed to the intellectual and creative


12

energy of Ohio State’s Knowlton School of Architecture as professor, agitator, and mentor, even as he has lent his talents to the Wexner Center as exhi- bition designer and, more importantly, as devilish advocate and interlocu- tor. That a former student, Megan Cavanaugh Novak, eagerly assumed the role of exhibition curator, and a long-time friend and Knowlton School colleague, Jeffrey Kipnis, agreed to contribute a critical essay to this catalogue is testament to their keen regard for Oubrerie and his talents. But make no mistake: this exhibition and catalogue stand completely on their own merits, as rigorously conceived and vetted as any the center would undertake. In that regard, the Firminy church uniquely and simultaneously embodies dual but rarely convergent Wexner Center mandates: to focus on newly created work in all disciplines and to illuminate the historical context from which such work emerges. Here, in one project, we can at once illustrate that which is quintessentially Corbusian and that which bears the distinctive hand of Oubrerie circa 2006. Moreover, we are able to discern where the one-time assistant has acted primarily as preserva- tionist, and where he has deliberately reinterpreted and even wholly reconceived crucial elements of the design. As such, the church becomes a true dialogue across the decades, not between teacher and student,

Le Corbusier L’église Saint-Pierre à Firminy, 1963 Lithography on paper, ed. 29/275 Collection Muséea d’Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne Métropole

but between peers. And one has to surmise that Le Corbusier would deem his legacy well served. This was by no means an easy project on which to cut one’s curato- rial teeth, and I would like to recognize the fine work done by Megan Cavanaugh Novak to orchestrate every aspect of this exhibition and its accompanying catalogue. She joins me in expressing our abiding appreciation to the Fondation Le Corbusier for its generous cooperation in lending precious historical material to the show. We also thank the Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne Métropole, and the Centre Canadien d’Architecture/ Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal, for their kind assistance in lending works. Similarly, we both convey our thanks to Romain Chazalon, who has worked closely with Oubrerie over the last several years to bring the church to completion, and also assisted in planning the exhibition. We are grateful to Jeffrey Kipnis for his keen insights and suggestions along the way, in addition to his sweeping yet meticulously honed essay for this catalogue. I thank Helen Molesworth for her project oversight and the


13

entire Wexner Center exhibitions team for their significant contributions to the realization of the project, particularly Patrick Weber, the lead ex- hibition designer for the show. I would also like to express my thanks to Dave Bull, our guest graphic designer, for his superb visualization of this publication and several related materials, and to Editor Ann Bremner for her always graceful and sensitive ministrations to text. We are delighted that Luis Burriel Bielza was able to visit the church upon its completion and provide entirely new photographs for this catalogue. For their dedicated efforts to raise both awareness and funding for the exhibition, I’m proud to recognize the center’s marketing and communications department under the leadership of Jerry Dannemiller and its development department, led by Jeffrey Byars. Under the strategic guidance of Deputy Director Jack Jackson, they (and so much else at the center) flourish. I am blessed with a supremely creative and dedicated staff, as well as a cadre of devoted volunteers, and while they more than deserve individual recognition, this collective expression of thanks will have to suffice for the moment.

A RARE CONVERGENCE OF SUPREME WILL, FORTUNE, TALENT, AND TENACITY THAT CONJURES FROM ABANDONED DREAMS A CONCRETE REALITY


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INTRODUCTION In November 2006, the Eglise Saint-Pierre de Firminy-Vert was finally unveiled to the public. This small church, situated in the town of Firminy about an hour outside of Lyon, was originally designed by Le Corbusier in the early 1960s. It was to be the fourth in a suite of projects by the famed architect in Firminy, part of a visionary mayor’s civic plan to create a new, green city out of a shabby industrial town. After several iterations of the design, which initially sprang from the unbuilt Le Tremblay church project of 1929, Le Corbusier passed away in 1965 before the Firminy church had even reached its final design stage, much less been built. JosÊ Oubrerie, the young apprentice working on the church with Le Corbusier, picked up where his teacher left off, and continued the


15


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As you can probably imagine, the task of writing about Le Corbusier and this “last” of his buildings is fairly daunting. Luckily for me, neither this exhibition nor the Firminy church is just about Le Corbusier, or even just about him and José Oubrerie. In fact, both are undeniably more about the iterative process of design, the compromises that are created by people working together, the changes that happen as new information arises during the design process. These effects are magnified by the incredible talent of the two architects and the immense stretch of time that has extended from the first breath of the project until its eventual, emphatic completion more than forty years later. Although the Firminy church poses many questions with no real answers, it is safe to say that José Oubrerie was the driving force behind the project: the energy and the persistence needed to deliver it to its new place in architectural history books, into the pages reserved for completed projects, comes from him. As Anthony Eardley details in his essay, first published in 1981 and reprinted here, Oubrerie became intimately involved in the design of the church as soon as Le Corbusier received the initial commission in 1960. Aside from some of the earliest sketches, many of the drawings from Le Corbusier’s studio were actually penned by Oubrerie while he worked there on the rue de Sèvres as a young apprentice. The design progressed fitfully, and construction had not even been considered at the time of Le Corbusier’s unexpected death. Following that tragic event, Oubrerie was allowed to keep the many drawings, models, and photographs on which he had been working. The project quickly became his passion, a never-ending apprenticeship assignment that he would not give up.

Le Corbusier L’église Saint-Pierre à Firminy, 1963 Lithography on


17

The cornerstone for the church was finally laid by 1970, ten years after it was commissioned. By this time, Le Corbusier had already been gone for five years, nearly the same amount of time that Oubrerie had worked with him. Yet Oubrerie was merely getting started. Actual construction on the building commenced in 1973; when it faltered for the first time in 1974, only the blocky base of three floors had been built. Construction resumed in 1977, and the slab for the church and the lower portion of the shell were poured. The balcony floor, an important part of the experience within the space, was also completed before construction again ceased, in 1979. At this juncture the project’s realization truly sputtered to a halt, and twenty-four years passed before another cement truck or toolbox arrived on the site. During this time, the building sat, unfinished and hulking, like a stocky Sagrada Família or Gothic cathedral. Surrounded by other Corbusian buildings that were not only finished but in use, this sad chunk of concrete lacked the height and detail to even hint at its potential grandeur. In 1996 the unfinished church was designated a “monument historique.” On the one hand this prevented certain changes from being made to the building and forced the completion to be officially considered an addition to the original building, but it did have one incredibly vital benefit. The protected status enabled the French government to intervene financially, and in 2001, the government provided the muchneeded economic support that would give the building its last push toward completion. The final round of construction began in 2003, and although progress often moved slowly,


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Le Corbusier L’église Saint-Pierre à Firminy, 1963

CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHS


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20

Le Corbusier L’église Saint-Pierre à Firminy, 1963


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Le Corbusier L’église Saint-Pierre à Firminy, 1963


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23

Le Corbusier L’église Saint-Pierre à Firminy, 1963


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25

CONTEMPORARY DRAWINGS


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A

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LEVEL 0.00


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27

B

A

B

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LEVEL +140

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A

CHURCH'S LEVEL


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GRANDEUR IS THE INTENTION Firminy is a mining, steel, and textiles town of some 25,000 people in the southern Auvergne. It lies in an undulating landscape at the head of a narrow region sprawling from the Rhone through St. Etienne, blackened with smoke and soot, and containing some half a million people. In the nineteenth century it was the scene of feverish industrial activity. In 1914 Baedeker’s guide to Southern France afforded Firminy’s urban and architectural heritage just two lines of text; the remaining two lines advised the visitor as to the means of transportation to somewhere else.1 However, it is not this jerry-built and unsanitary old fabric, shaken by mining subsidence and reduced to rubble in the frenzy of European postwar urban renewal, but rather the adjacent “green” Firminy which contains the last of Le Corbusier’s buildings to be realized, the parish church of Saint-Pierre de Firminy-Vert.2

This last work was actually commissioned in the spring of 1960. Le Corbusier undertook it with reluctance, and serious misgivings, which were overcome only through his deep friendship for the mayor of Firminy, Eugène ClaudiusPetit. Indeed, even the Parish Association commissioned the work with some apprehension, for despite the encouraging impetus of the radical transformations suddenly taking place about them in a town which had been “practically abandoned by municipal officials of every political color for half a century,”3 found themselves ill-equipped to assume the burdens of patronage for a m architectural enterprise. It was also looked upon with thinly concealed by the conservative ecclesiastical hierarchy of the Diocese of Lyon, w anticipated that it would represent the Mother Church in too obd incarnate a form, and in fact, its fate has become a matter of i


they major 61 distrust who correctly durately antique and indifference to the new

Contents

29


30

As you can probably imagine, the task of writing about Le Corbusier and this “last” of his buildings is fairly daunting. Luckily for me, neither this exhibition nor the Firminy church is just about Le Corbusier, or even just about him and José Oubrerie. In fact, both are undeniably more about the iterative process of design, the compromises that are created by people working together, the changes that happen as new information arises during the design process. These effects are magnified by the incredible talent of the two architects and the immense stretch of time that has extended from the first breath of the project until its eventual, emphatic completion more than forty years later. Although the Firminy church poses many questions with no real answers, it is safe to say that José Oubrerie was the driving force behind the project: the energy and the persistence needed to deliver it to its new place in

architectural history books, into the pages reserved for completed projects, comes from him. As Anthony Eardley details in his essay, first published in 1981 and reprinted here, Oubrerie became intimately involved in the design of the church as soon as Le Corbusier received the initial commission in 1960. Aside from some of the earliest sketches, many of the drawings from Le Corbusier’s studio were actually penned by Oubrerie while he worked there on the rue de Sèvres as a young apprentice. The design progressed fitfully, and construction had not even been considered at


31

the time of Le Corbusier’s unexpected death. Following that tragic event, Oubrerie was allowed to keep the many drawings, models, and photographs on which he had been working. The project quickly became his passion, a never-ending apprenticeship assignment that he would not give up. The vacornerstone for the church was finally laid by 1970, ten years after it was commissioned. By this time, Le Corbusier had already been gone for five years, nearly

the same amount of time that Oubrerie had worked with him. Yet Oubrerie was merely getting started. Actual construction on the building commenced in 1973; when it faltered for the first time in 1974, only the blocky base of three floors had been built. Construction resumed in 1977, and the slab for the church and the lower portion of the shell were poured. The balcony floor, an important part of the experience within the space, was also completed before construction again ceased, in 1979. At this juncture the project’s realization truly sputtered to a halt, and twenty-four years passed before another cement truck or

toolbox arrived on the site. During this time, the building sat, unfinished and hulking, like a stocky Sagrada Família or Gothic cathedral. Surrounded by other Corbusian buildings that were not only finished but in use, this sad chunk of concrete lacked the height and detail to even hint at its potential grandeur. In 1996 the unfinished church was designated a “monument historique.” On the one hand this prevented certain changes from being made to the building and forced the completion to be officially considered an addition to the original building, but it did have one incredibly vital benefit. The protected status enabled the French government to intervene financially,


32

footnotes 1

2

Aconciseandinformativeaccountofthe urban transformation of Firminy is contained iannadnEiungtèenrveieCwlabuedtiwuseePnetAitn, “dFréirmPainriyn, aCuitdé exemplaire,” La Galerie des Arts no.61 (Paris, December 15, 1968), pp. 21–25. Since 1968, when the project was rceosnut sraccittasteudp,ecrvoinssiotrnufcotriotnhed occhumrcehnhtsavaend been the responsibility of José Oubrerie, working in association with Louis Miguel, another “ancien” of 35 rue de Sèvres from the period of the early Algiers projects.

3

“Firminy,Citéexemplaire.”op.cit.,p.21.

4

José Oubrerie, “Presque au but,” in Architecture no. 15 (Paris, May 1980), p. 19. 5 Circular by Les Amis de Le Corbusier, “Achever L’Eglise de Firminy-Vert par Le Corbusier” (Paris).

5

6

Corbus6ieTr,hOeseeutvhrereceopmropjel ècttesa1r9e5r7e–c1o9rd6e5d, inLe Willy Boesiger, editor (New York: Wittenborn, 1965), pp. 130–135, and Le Corbusier: The Last Works, Willy Boesiger, editor (Zurich: Les Editions d’Architecture Artemis, 1970), pp. 10–43. Le Corbusier’s commentary on the Pantheon and other monuments of ancient Rome is to be found, together with so much else that is indispensable to an understanding of his work, in Towards a New Architecture (New York: Payson and Clarke, 1927), pp. 154–159.

7 8

9

10

Ibid., pp. 164–172. Toavoidthecostofrepairingtheroof,the municipality sold the church, presumably abandoned by the Diocese, to demolition contractors. See the circular by Les Amis de Le Corbusier, “Pourquoi et comment Le Corbusier apporta une architecture authentique à Firminy, Ville ouvrière” (Paris). LeCorbusier,Oeuvrecomplète1957– 1965, p. 137. All translations other than this qnuotoetde.are by the author unless otherwise Eugène Claudius-Petit, “Note sur l’implantation de St. Pierre de FirminyVert” (3 May 1966) pp. 1–2. Typescript. The municipality had declared its intention to donate the church site to the Parish Association for a token franc providing it was consulted on the choice of the architect. Ibid., p. 2.

11

Prior to the modest commission for the stadium, Le Corbusier’s involvement in the development of Firminy-Vert had been confined to incognito visits to provide M. Cfrliaeundi’usso-pPientiotnwtihthatatdhveicpeo.pItuwlaacsehwisasold not yet ready for the architecture of Le Corbusier at the time when work on the development plan began in the early 1950s. Trehdeesvceoloppemaenndtapmrobpitoisoanlsofwtehremofasyuocr’hs astonishing proportions that, quite clearly,


33

he might risk the loss of bureaucratic and popular support for the plan if he were to unduly antagonize municipal officials by adding unnecessary controversy to a condition which, one suspects, it had already discovered to be painfully unlethargic. Eventually, all of Firminy took pride in the fact that Le Corbusier had accepted the stadium commission, not least the local architects, who took his presence among them as evidence that he found their architecture agreeable to him. “Firminy, Cité exemplaire,” op. cit., p. 22.

12

14

EugèneClaudius-Petit,“Firminy-Vert”in Le Corbusier: The Last Works, op. cit., p. 10. 15 On completion of the surface mining the site had been rented from the coal company by the municipality and used as the city dump for many years. Two unmined ridges provide support for the stadium and the Youth Club and Cultural Center, while the soccer practice field at the east end of the crater, the stadium field in the center, aqnuditethdeechpulyrcfihlleadreeaxcaat vtahteiownes. “Note sur l’implantation,” op. cit, pp. op. cit.1, p7.E1u0g.èneClaudius-Petit.“FirminyVert,” 18“Notesurl’implantation,”op.cit.,p.3. Edition1s9FoLrceeCso-Vribvuesi,e1r,9M66i) s,epapu. 3p1o,in3t2(,P4a8ri.s: lucubration does not lie in this difficult pursuit of a solution on the drawing-board. IdteiespaenstacptaortfofafimthysinelofuIrboewlienveagine.itIn.Ithe believe in it for the future and not merely because of the formulas that gave the equation, and I believe in it amid all the difficulties of special cases. But we can nineoveur hmaivnedstoiof wcleareor-

toexsaoclvteatchoenpcreopbtlieomn s of special cases.” Le Corbusier, The City of Tomorrow and its Planning (London: John Rodker, 1929), p. 198. This is Frederick Eirtocnhielslso’sf atracnhsitleactitounr. aIltlitseoranteuroef thaetgitreat was Etchells, a Vorticist, who undertook to translate two of the most magnificently atavistic works of the twentieth century, and transform them into Futurist platforms ibnetchaemperoTocwesasr:dVsears NuenweaArchitecture,in its title and emphasis, and Urbanisme, despite the clear evidence of Le Corbusier’s avowals to the contrary, became The City of Tomorrow and its Planning.

15

LeCorbusier,Aircraft;L’avionaccuse... (London: The Studio, Ltd. 1935), p. 95. 23 Ibid., p. 96. 24 Mise au point, op. cit., pp. 59–61. 25 Paul Turner, in his invaluable studyof The Education of Le Corbusier observes that in his reading of Ernest Renan’s Vie de Jesus during the period 1908–1909, the young CharlesEdouard Jeanneret marked passages which “reveal the rather startling fact that Jeanneret actually identified himself with the figure of Jesus, and was seeking parallels between Jesus’ career and that which he himself was embarking upon... Indeed, Jeanneret seems to have read Nietzsche (Zarathustra) and Renan together, seeking out in both books the traits of the archetypal revolutionary prophet and reformer—and then relating these traits to his image of his own similar destiny.” Paul Venable Turner, The Educationof Le Corbusier (New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1977), pp. 62, 64.

16

P u d d l e d c l a y, s o m e t i m e s c o n t a i n i n g a pebble aggregate. 27LeCorbusier,Oeuvrecomplète1946– 1952, op. cit., p. 25.

17

Le Corbusier lui-même, Jean Petit, editor (Geneva: Editions Rousseau, 1970), p. 100. Apart from the secular aspects of this proposal it is clear that Le Corbusier’s ciconsotganratprheyc,oausrsies etovipdaegnat,nfor enxaatmurpale, in Ronchamp, was a constant source of distress to the ecclesiastical authorities. While it is impossible to identify the full panoply of references and stimuli, it is pcroasbsisbhleltloacnldaiamircthrafttiwn iandgdwitihoinchtoshthaeped the roof, other memories permeated the form of Firminy-Vert. Among these one may select the old Greek colony in Archachon, danradwAnmwéidthéepOrozteon-Pfaunritsitnstuhbetlseutymbmyehrimofself 1918 (Le Corbusier, Une maison—un palais: A la recherche d’une unité architecturale, Paris: Cres, 1928, p. 47); the Serapeum at the Villa Adriana, Tivoli, already evoked in connection with the light shafts for La Sainte-Baume (Le Corbusier, Oeuvre complète 1946–1952, p. 31); the megalithic Ggantija (Giant’s Tower) on the Maltese island of Gozo (Une maison—un palais, p. 39); elements of the Arab cities of Ghardaia and the Mizab (Le Corbusier, Radiant City, New York, 1967, pp. 230–233), and African ceremonial masks which he had studied in the Trocadero in his youth (L’Esprit Nouveau nos. 21, 22, see “Nègres” by Julian Sant- Quetin).

18

“Le Corbusier and the Theological Program,” op. cit., p. 291.


34

1

2

Aconciseandinformativeaccountofthe urban transformation of Firminy is contained iannadnEiungtèenrveieCwlabuedtiwuseePnetAitn, “dFréirmPainriyn, aCuitdé exemplaire,” La Galerie des Arts no.61 (Paris, December 15, 1968), pp. 21–25. Since 1968, when the project was rceosnut sraccittasteudp,ecrvoinssiotrnufcotriotnhed occhumrcehnhtsavaend been the responsibility of José Oubrerie, working in association with Louis Miguel, another “ancien” of 35 rue de Sèvres from the period of the early Algiers projects.

3

“Firminy,Citéexemplaire.”op.cit.,p.21.

4

José Oubrerie, “Presque au but,” in Architecture no. 15 (Paris, May 1980), p. 19. 5 Circular by Les Amis de Le Corbusier, “Achever L’Eglise de Firminy-Vert par Le Corbusier” (Paris).

5

6

Corbus6ieTr,hOeseeutvhrereceopmropjel ècttesa1r9e5r7e–c1o9rd6e5d, inLe Willy Boesiger, editor (New York: Wittenborn, 1965), pp. 130–135, and Le Corbusier: The Last Works, Willy Boesiger, editor (Zurich: Les Editions d’Architecture Artemis, 1970), pp. 10–43. Le Corbusier’s commentary on the Pantheon and other monuments of ancient Rome is to be found, together with so much else that is indispensable to an understanding of his work, in Towards a New Architecture (New York: Payson and Clarke, 1927), pp. 154–159.

7 8

9

10

Ibid., pp. 164–172. Toavoidthecostofrepairingtheroof,the municipality sold the church, presumably abandoned by the Diocese, to demolition contractors. See the circular by Les Amis de Le Corbusier, “Pourquoi et comment Le Corbusier apporta une architecture authentique à Firminy, Ville ouvrière” (Paris). LeCorbusier,Oeuvrecomplète1957– 1965, p. 137. All translations other than this qnuotoetde.are by the author unless otherwise Eugène Claudius-Petit, “Note sur l’implantation de St. Pierre de FirminyVert” (3 May 1966) pp. 1–2. Typescript. The municipality had declared its intention to donate the church site to the Parish Association for a token franc providing it was consulted on the choice of the architect. Ibid., p. 2.

11

Prior to the modest commission for the stadium, Le Corbusier’s involvement in the development of Firminy-Vert had been confined to incognito visits to provide M. Cfrliaeundi’usso-pPientiotnwtihthatatdhveicpeo.pItuwlaacsehwisasold not yet ready for the architecture of Le Corbusier at the time when work on the development plan began in the early 1950s. Trehdeesvceoloppemaenndtapmrobpitoisoanlsofwtehremofasyuocr’hs astonishing proportions that, quite clearly,


35

he might risk the loss of bureaucratic and popular support for the plan if he were to unduly antagonize municipal officials by adding unnecessary controversy to a condition which, one suspects, it had already discovered to be painfully unlethargic. Eventually, all of Firminy took pride in the fact that Le Corbusier had accepted the stadium commission, not least the local architects, who took his presence among them as evidence that he found their architecture agreeable to him. “Firminy, Cité exemplaire,” op. cit., p. 22.

12

14

EugèneClaudius-Petit,“Firminy-Vert”in Le Corbusier: The Last Works, op. cit., p. 10. 15 On completion of the surface mining the site had been rented from the coal company by the municipality and used as the city dump for many years. Two unmined ridges provide support for the stadium and the Youth Club and Cultural Center, while the soccer practice field at the east end of the crater, the stadium field in the center, aqnuditethdeechpulyrcfihlleadreeaxcaat vtahteiownes. “Note sur l’implantation,” op. cit, pp. op. cit.1, p7.E1u0g.èneClaudius-Petit.“FirminyVert,” 18“Notesurl’implantation,”op.cit.,p.3. Edition1s9FoLrceeCso-Vribvuesi,e1r,9M66i) s,epapu. 3p1o,in3t2(,P4a8ri.s: lucubration does not lie in this difficult pursuit of a solution on the drawing-board. IdteiespaenstacptaortfofafimthysinelofuIrboewlienveagine.itIn.Ithe believe in it for the future and not merely because of the formulas that gave the equation, and I believe in it amid all the difficulties of special cases. But we can nineoveur hmaivnedstoiof wcleareor-

toexsaoclvteatchoenpcreopbtlieomn s of special cases.” Le Corbusier, The City of Tomorrow and its Planning (London: John Rodker, 1929), p. 198. This is Frederick Eirtocnhielslso’sf atracnhsitleactitounr. aIltlitseoranteuroef thaetgitreat was Etchells, a Vorticist, who undertook to translate two of the most magnificently atavistic works of the twentieth century, and transform them into Futurist platforms ibnetchaemperoTocwesasr:dVsears NuenweaArchitecture,in its title and emphasis, and Urbanisme, despite the clear evidence of Le Corbusier’s avowals to the contrary, became The City of Tomorrow and its Planning.

15

LeCorbusier,Aircraft;L’avionaccuse... (London: The Studio, Ltd. 1935), p. 95. 23 Ibid., p. 96. 24 Mise au point, op. cit., pp. 59–61. 25 Paul Turner, in his invaluable studyof The Education of Le Corbusier observes that in his reading of Ernest Renan’s Vie de Jesus during the period 1908–1909, the young CharlesEdouard Jeanneret marked passages which “reveal the rather startling fact that Jeanneret actually identified himself with the figure of Jesus, and was seeking parallels between Jesus’ career and that which he himself was embarking upon... Indeed, Jeanneret seems to have read Nietzsche (Zarathustra) and Renan together, seeking out in both books the traits of the archetypal revolutionary prophet and reformer—and then relating these traits to his image of his own similar destiny.” Paul Venable Turner, The Educationof Le Corbusier (New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1977), pp. 62, 64.

16

P u d d l e d c l a y, s o m e t i m e s c o n t a i n i n g a pebble aggregate. 27LeCorbusier,Oeuvrecomplète1946– 1952, op. cit., p. 25.

17

Le Corbusier lui-même, Jean Petit, editor (Geneva: Editions Rousseau, 1970), p. 100. Apart from the secular aspects of this proposal it is clear that Le Corbusier’s ciconsotganratprheyc,oausrsies etovipdaegnat,nfor enxaatmurpale, in Ronchamp, was a constant source of distress to the ecclesiastical authorities. While it is impossible to identify the full panoply of references and stimuli, it is pcroasbsisbhleltloacnldaiamircthrafttiwn iandgdwitihoinchtoshthaeped the roof, other memories permeated the form of Firminy-Vert. Among these one may select the old Greek colony in Archachon, danradwAnmwéidthéepOrozteon-Pfaunritsitnstuhbetlseutymbmyehrimofself 1918 (Le Corbusier, Une maison—un palais: A la recherche d’une unité architecturale, Paris: Cres, 1928, p. 47); the Serapeum at the Villa Adriana, Tivoli, already evoked in connection with the light shafts for La Sainte-Baume (Le Corbusier, Oeuvre complète 1946–1952, p. 31); the megalithic Ggantija (Giant’s Tower) on the Maltese island of Gozo (Une maison—un palais, p. 39); elements of the Arab cities of Ghardaia and the Mizab (Le Corbusier, Radiant City, New York, 1967, pp. 230–233), and African ceremonial masks which he had studied in the Trocadero in his youth (L’Esprit Nouveau nos. 21, 22, see “Nègres” by Julian Sant- Quetin).

18

“Le Corbusier and the Theological Program,” op. cit., p. 291.


36

HISTORICAL DRAWINGS


37

Le Corbusier L’église SaintPierre à Firminy, 1963 Lithography on


38

Le Corbusier L’église Saint-Pierre à Firminy, 1963

Le Corbusier L’église SaintPierre à Firminy, 1963 Lithography on


39

Le Corbusier L’église SaintPierre à Firminy, 1963


Architecture Interruptus Part 1