Firminy is a small town with not much to do. The biggest (and only) thing of interest is the Unité d'Habitation by Le Corbusier. There is a whole "Corbu-World" here with a beautiful chapel, a culture center, a sports field, and the apartment complex, all by Le Corbusier. On Saturday, we bundled up against the rain and cold and headed over there.
The Culture Center is the last completed work by Le Corbusier before he died, if I am not mistaken. The roof plane is a catenary-like shape, supported inside by steel cables. It's always interesting to me to look at a building and figure out the structure. It's like having x-ray powers. At the end of his life, Corbusier utilized colors in his works quite often. It's really rare nowadays to find architects that embrace color, and Corbusier did it very nicely in his projects. He only uses the primary colors, green, black and white to accent his architecture.
Loving that crazy curve of the roof!
I also really like how the stairs touch the ground so elegantly. And there are the colors!
We met up with a guide who showed us around the Habitation, the apartment complex. We saw a model of the building in Paris with Heiner, but the real thing was very neat. Corbusier stacked the apartment units like tetris blocks around the central hallway to maximize space.
Very tall, very large building. And yet it STILL stands on the pilotis! Corbusier really liked to emphasize that his buildings do not touch the ground
A view down the hallway and a view from the loft
A model of the building
Finally, we visited the Church of Saint-Pierre, which was an INCREDIBLE building. It was all made of concrete with a really neat gutter system on the front. The walls all canted inward to create a voluminous, tall, reverberating, magnificent chapel inside. It was breathtaking. Very dark, VERY cold, but the quality of sound and the height inside were just humbling and inspiring.
One wall had holes in the concrete that looked like stars