The convent of Santa Maria de La Tourette
is a religious building belonging to the Dominican Order, designed by Le Corbusier and located in the municipality of Éveux located in the area of L'Arbresle near Lyon and not in the territory of La Tourette.
The monastery complex includes a church, a cloister, a chapter house, classrooms, library, dining room, various rooms, kitchens and a hundred individual cells. It is built in a valley in strong descent surrounded by forests and plains; to give a less massive appearance to the structure it was decided to support the mass of the convent on pillars of varying height given the slope of the ground. Inside there are a hundred cells for the monks. Still below are the study rooms, the refectories below and finally, in contact with the ground, the kitchens. In the adjacent areas there are the church and the sacristy. There is an internal courtyard directly connected to the outside.
The convent grounds are located on the side of a ridge road that slopes towards the valley; Le Corbusier uses the slope of the terrain to better organize the functional distribution. The plant used is very formal, in fact it is not easily recognizable as a convent; the building can be defined as belonging to brutalism, concrete is present everywhere, there are no moldings and no decorative elements, in line with the principles of poverty and simplicity of the Order. The elements are articulated with the right angle, moreover the openings are designed to be tape-like, often occupying most of the wall.
The building is mainly designed for the relationship that those who are inside have towards the outside and not the landscape impact that the building has with the context, this is because the friars belonging to the Order of Friars Preachers must have a high education, and the convent is the place where this preparation takes place.
In the sacristy and in the altar of the church the relationship with light was mainly studied, "cannons" of light were inserted, windows specially shaped to have different internal light behaviors at different times of day. In the nave of the church there are two windows, one positioned in the center of the nave and one at the top of the wall opposite the altar; this play of lights gives a different internal effect during the different hours of the day.
Le Corbusier makes the height between the floor and the ceiling vary according to the importance of the environment, the church has the greatest height and the corridors with which it is accessed changes height as you go along it, to signify the fact that you enter an important environment. The entrance area is low, but as you approach the center of the building the floors change in height.
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