Where and when was this photograph shot?
This photograph was shot in La Tourette, in France, in an early morning in July 7, 2001.
What were the conditions on site?
The temperature was mild. Early light, long shadows, slightly diffuse, peaceful. Sounds hinting of a fully functioning and working monastery. Serene both due to building function as well as the symbolism of a holy place. The air was slightly damp and cool, particular where the photo was taken, which was in a somewhat subterranean space.
Are there any special technical aspects about this photograph?
The image was taken with film, and as such is a little grainy and soft-focussed due to the darker interior lighting and high contrast afforded by the light wells above. As I revisit this image over the years the technical imperfections have come to impart on me a sense that the image is true to my memory of the location. The colours were possibly accentuated by the type of film I used, but it still feels true to my memory of the space – I recall the colors seeming very intense, in direct contrast to my perceptions of Le Corbusier’s work, often portrayed in publications with black and white photos that seem almost clinical and devoid of life. Nothing is further from the truth when seen in person, and this photo reminds me of that.
How did you get on the site?
Self-interest. I am a trained and practicing architect, and make a point of visiting landmark buildings whenever I can, both to learn and to photograph.
What do you find most interesting about this image?
The vibrant colors and seemingly haphazard formal composition that somehow was spatially very balanced.
Is there any particular or funny moment about this photograph?
Not funny unfortunately, but a powerful memory nevertheless. The train that took me to the village near La Tourette struck a person on the track. We were stranded in the French countryside for quite some time as the police investigated what had occurred. I will never forget the sound of the impact, one that almost went without notice until we understood why the train had come to a sudden halt in the middle of nowhere. It’s an odd memory to couple with the wonderful experience of visiting such a remarkable and peaceful building, yet strangely fitting, a compliment to the unexpected beauty of the building.
Is there anything that you wanted to communicate through this image?
Well, subsequent visits to many other over the years of Le Corbusier’s other buildings have only further reinforced my high regard for the humanity of his spaces. They are so much more sensorially appealing and comfortable than one can ever imagine through photography alone!
This is an excerpt of an interview which is part of the editorial project “1 Photo(grapher)” and originally published for Scopio Network.