In 1960, Eugène Claudius Petit and the Parish Committee ordered a church from Le Corbusier. He worked on drawing up the plans until 1965, assisted by José Oubrerie and José Luis Miquel. After the architect’s death, the association “Le Corbusier pour l’église de Firminy-Vert” was created to raise the funds needed to finish the building.
The first stone was laid in 1970, but the construction work did not actually get underway until 1973, before being completely abandoned in 1978. The completed areas (the current Interpretation Centre) were listed as historical monuments in 1996. It was only from the year 2000 onwards that the decision was taken to complete the church. Most of the financing was provided by the local urban community (Saint-Étienne Métropole), which in 2002 declared the completion of this monument to be in the general interest of the community.
The construction work, which was completed in November 2006, was managed by José Oubrerie keeping scrupulously to the original project. He was supported by Aline Duverger, Yves Perret, Romain Chazalon and by Jean-François Grange-Chavanis, the chief architect of historical monuments. The work was completed using modern techniques and materials.
The Church takes the form of a basic square building measuring 25.50 metres along each side, topped with a truncated 33 metre high cone.
The shell (built from self-compacting concrete) houses the nave, the eastern side of which features a representation of the Orion constellation. The rainwaterrecovery system is deployed all around the building, covering horizontal loopholes positioned to match the spiral floor layout inside the nave. The three « light cannons » installed on the ridgepiece and on the
western façade are a specific feature of Le Corbusier’s architecture.
The church of Saint-Pierre in Firminy-Vert is a two-part building, comprising a base which enjoys a high level of exposure to light, aimed at guaranteeing maximum brightness within the building, coupled with a dense concrete shell.
Le Corbusier designed the lower part to house parish activities (meetings, catechesis, etc.) and related parish facilities. It is today home to the Interpretation Centre dedicated to Le Corbusier’s work.
For its part, the upper section is entirely occupied by the nave, with two chapels: one for the weekdays with a secondary altar (entering from the left), and the other for Sunday worship with the high altar. The latter is connected to the ground by means of a white pillar, which is independent from the main framework of the building.