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Reassessing Ronchamp: the historical context, architectural discourse and design development of Le Corbusier's Chapel Notre Dame-du-Haut

Dunlap, Richard Stockton (2014) Reassessing Ronchamp: the historical context, architectural discourse and design development of Le Corbusier's Chapel Notre Dame-du-Haut. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This dissertation provides a reassessment of the design documents and historical discourse concerning Le Corbusier's Chapel Notre-Dame-du-Haut, Ronchamp. Chapter 1 provides historical background for Le Corbusier’s acceptance of the commission, and resituates the primary literature on the Chapel within its original context: a tense ideological conflict between the French Dominicans and the Vatican hierarchy, who had placed the principal patrons and their chosen architect under covert surveillance. Chapter 2 presents a comprehensive review of the secondary literature on the Chapel, providing chronological evidence that Le Corbusier’s explanations of Ronchamp have exerted a predominant influence upon this discourse since the Chapel's inauguration in 1955. Chapters 3 and 4 present an exhaustive content analysis of the portion of the primary literature on Ronchamp published between 1953 and 1955, highlighting the considerable discrepancies that these texts contain. Upon the basis of this review, I suggest that there is sufficient warrant to be skeptical about the canonical explanations of the Chapel's design, which first appeared within these texts. The study concludes in Chapters 5 and 6 with a renewed investigation of the extant archival materials pertaining to the initial phases of Le Corbusier’s design work for the Chapel. I argue that the canonical explanations of Ronchamp have overlooked many early drawings that played a fundamental role in the architect's creative process, and, on the basis of these discoveries, propose a revised sequence of design development for the first three phases of work within the atelier. An alternate explanation of Le Corbusier's creative process is also proposed, based upon a revolutionary approach to architectural design that he developed after the war, which, I suggest, he did not wish to disclose to his professional peers or to the public.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Richard Stockton Dunlap
Library of Congress subject classification: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Tavernor, Robert

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