When I was studying architecture in the late 1970s, there was one building that completely caught my imagination – the chapel at Ronchamp by Le Corbusier.

Little did I know the effect the building would have on me some 15 years later, when I finally saw it, long after I’d moved from architecture to furniture. We saw the building on a clear sunny morning and tears immediately came to my eyes. The strength of vision of this small building is astonishing.

Corbusier met the priest, contractors and the local committee on-site in June 1950. He spent time absorbing the site and the problems of reconstructing a ruined church blasted by shellfire on top of a hill just using a unified local labour force. Those ideas fermented and combined with the idea of ‘visual acoustics’ to literally create a building that sings, using a set of elements that sweep, float, are pierced or just sit quietly to inspire the pilgrims who visit for all sorts of reasons.

If I’d seen the building earlier, no doubt I would have continued with architecture. However, whatever you do, this building shines as an example of problem solving with creativity, joy and experience.

James Mair, Viaduct Furniture

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