“Give the monks what man needs most today: silence and peace. This monastery must not be shown, it must be lived from within”, said Reverend Father Marie-Alain Couturier when asking Le Corbusier to design La Tourette monastery in Eveux-sur-Arbresle. A Dominican friar and Catholic priest, Couturier persuaded the Dominican friars of Lyon to engage the famous architect, and was one of the key figures in giving sacred art a new role in the modern era. At Couvent de La Tourette, time revolves around the pace of contemplation. The monastery is isolated in a small valley, surrounded by the silence of nature, on the eastern mountains of France. Sixty years after its completion in 1960, the monastery still retains the characteristics of a place devoted to meditation and detachment, as strongly desired by Couturier. It espouses the monks’ frugality and discipline, in perfect harmony with the late modernist rationalist and brutalist minimalism of Le Corbusier. Today, the building is home to a few dozen monks, but in the last forty years it has opened up to the world by welcoming non-monks. Architects, curious persons and students who witnessed the monks’ lives – you cannot have contact with the monks – made La Tourette a meeting place for various disciplines related to the humanities and philosophy. Its austere external structure, mostly made of reinforced concrete and large windows, houses a hundred individual cells, a common library, a refectory, a rooftop cloister and a church. The surrounding monastic life, the spare rooms and refectory, the communal bathrooms and the silence pervading La Tourette create an unconventional hospitality experience, in a fertile place for thought and for the rituals of the soul. And you can stay as long as you want.
A special project by Federico Torra, contributing editor Giada Storelli.