a quieter kind (its inner surfaces are strongly coloured
shades of bright red, yellow and green).
Le Corbusier’s attentiveness to solar geometry means
that the sunlight entering this window – the chapel’s
most obvious fecundation of darkness through light –
is able to evoke the very moment of Mary’s conception.
Thus, around 8 September, the day on which her
nativity is celebrated, and the major pilgrimage day
at Ronchamp, sunlight passing through this aperture
projects Mary’s shadow on to the nave floor beside the
communion rail. When this shadow crosses the altar
rail at around 10am it briefly inscribes a cross within a
square on to the chapel’s centre line.
Through the three light towers, the door ways (all creating
entry-points for light) and a carefully considered, if
apparently almost random distribution of apertures
across the north, east and south walls, Le Corbusier
orchestrates fields of light and shadow that reorient and
anchor the chapel’s unusual spatial geometry.
‘Light creates ambience and
feel of a place, as well as the
expression of a structure’
Above: detail of a window seen top right in the opposite image
Opposite: Le Corbusier gave windows three-dimensional depth for
practical and aesthetic reasons – he avoided glare by using elements
such as splayed apertures, coloured glass and calottes