THE RONCHAMP REVELATION
My first entry left off with a quote of Stella’s foreshadowing of a society devoid of religion due to an industrialized future. How true was his prediction now that we are living a future close to a century past Stella’s era?
A prime example of modern architecture that would repudiate Stella’s claim is Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame Du Haut in Ronchamp, France. I wrote about my recognition of a pivotal moment in Le Corbusier’s work and I believe it has a direct connection to Stella’s predictions. Corb’s disillusionment with industrialization changed his stance on architecture in which he became more interested in the poetry and meaning of that a space can convey through the modulation of light and the undulation of space.
The deceivingly non-loading bearing walls constantly changed in thickness, height, and shape. The massive boat-like roof held up by unnoticeable columns hidden within the confines of walls. Funneling openings are carved out creating pockets of subtle illumination. The entire chapel sits atop a sloping hill of the Jura Mountains with a sense of permanence in ground condition, truly achieving “ineffable space.”
Here is where modernism found a spot in spirituality. Eventually, Corb put “the machine” aside. This building contained no standardization, mass-production, nor efficiency. On this isolated plot of land in France stands an emblem to modernism and religion.