A Little Place Called Space

AA Files 58

my thanks to
Tom Weaver

In his 1961 essay for The Architectural Review, ‘Dominican Monastery of LaTourette, Eveux sur-Arbresle, Lyon’, Colin Rowe leads the reader up a reasonably remote hillside to confront one of Le Corbusier’s last works of architecture. His description of this ascent hinges on an elision whereby a ‘casual visitor* stands in for the author. This visitor experiences La Tourette first as an image: a blank facade perched atop a hill? side. Hiking up the path, attention then moves from gashes along this facade to light canons at its base. As the march continues, the architec? tural tourist is drawn rightward to a valley that opens before the viewer. Here Rowe abandons the visitor’s body and becomes his ‘eye’, follow? ing the sweep of the horizon. The empty wall is transformed from a facade into a framing device for the landscape as the disembodied gaze tracks along the valley. At this moment the mysterious beast lying in wait on the hillside pounces – La Tourette pummels the visitor, dragging them from the initial dismay of finding a blank facade to a more profoundly divided consciousness as this wall reveals itself to be both more and less than what they originally imagined.