Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, LC2015 - Le Corbusier, 50 years later

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Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, the shape of a listening. A whole other generative hypothesis
Luca Ribichini

Last modified: 16-12-2015


Abstract: The article will examin one of Le Corbusier's more emblematic works: the Ronchamp Chapel. The aim is to discover some of the intentionalities hidden within the design of this work by the swiss architect. It will start with the following considerations of Le Corbusier about the Ronchamp chapel:“it began with the acoustics of the landscape taking the four horizons as a reference...to respond to these horizons, to accomodate them, shapes were created…” And: “ Shapes make noise and silence; some speak and others listen...”And again: “ Ear can see proportions. It's possibile to hear the music of visual proportion” (Le Corbusier). The article sustains that the church is nothing but a giant acoustic machine dedicated to Virgin Mary which main purpose is the listening of the prayers. Infact in the Christian religion Mary is the very vehicle between God and man , she has a human but also divine nature since she is the mother of Jesus. To get in contact with the divine it is necessary to pray Mary, she can listen to man's prayers but she can also pass down God's word to man. In support of this hypothesis there stands an analogy between the chapel's map and the image section of a human ear, highlighting the coincidence between the altar position and that of cochlea, which shape is so dear to le Corbusier that he makes use of it very often in his work.


Keywords: Ronchamp; acoustic landscape; human ear, architecture as chrystallized music.


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4995/LC2015.2015.719

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