Luis Burriel (SOMOS.arquitectos) has presented a paper in Xth Docomomo Brasil

ARQUITECTURA MODERNA E INTERNACIONAL: conexiones brutalistas 1955-75. Curitiba. 15th-18th October, 2013. 

Luis Burriel Bielza has presented his paper under the title "The structure and its poetic dimension in SAINT-PIERRE of FIRMINY":

One of the most attractive characteristics of Brutalism has to do with the plastic capacity of the structure to define and shape the space without any other accessory item. Most of the times, accompanied with no further finishes other than the hard and rough concrete surfaces. The structure goes beyond its strictly supporting role and in some cases, the dimensions and proportions necessary to ensure the transmission of forces are modified in order to acquire a specific "weight", which reinforced by the concrete texture, transforms it into a powerful tool project. Obviously, Le Corbusier’s architecture from the 50’s has helped shape this conception of the project. Industrial and rough finishes typical of a low-skilled labor will breathinglife to the "skin" of the building. In this line, the project for the parish church of Saint-Pierre of Firminy (1960-2006) appears as a clear example, since the character of each one of the spaces finds its counterpoint and mainstay in the structure. As we see in the latest model presented at the Atelier 35 rue de Sèvres, this is manifested with absolute firmness and tremendous honesty. In fact, the whole project is nothing but a "hollow inhabited structure". The upper volume takes the form of a truncated "cone", which actually corresponds to the transition between the square at the base and the circle at the zenith, in a continuous transformation that has removed any classical element of articulation like the pendentives. Its elusive scale, thanks to the absence of a window, gapor anything recognizable as such, establishes a powerful dialogue with the urban surroundings which mustbe understood as a landscape intervention. This volume rests on twelve screens which conform a facade of alternate solids and voids conferring the building absolute transparency at ground level and establishing an open relation towards the pedestrians.

But in this project, the structure is also invested with a new variable: its poetic dimension, which is closely attached to the symbolic nature of its conception. The structure is fully loaded with meaning because its dimensions, its layout and its geometry are intimately linked with theconstruction of the space, with the obsessions and experiences of the architect and with the movement of the faithful inside. Nothing has been left to chance. Different structural solutions involved have been particularized to find the right shape for the project and they are not the answer to a problem of statics or a balance of forces, but to a problem of spatial connections and a balance of masses. Folded surfaces, screens and linear elements combine in absolute harmony. The character of the building and its relationship with the surroundings are determined by large concrete surfaces whose interaction with the user speaks of a changing perception at every step of the promenade architecturale. Even today, after the titanic work of José Oubrerie which allowed its completion in 2006, this small parish church is extremely relevant for XXIst century architects. Not only because of the existence of a continuous space that advances solutions such as those used by Rem Koolhaas in the Jussieu Library, but also because it incorporates the structure as a defining element of that space in such a way, that no structure means no architecture. This paper discusses the different stages of the project based on this concept, and the ability of the structure and the use of a single material to meet all project conditions. Brazilian Brutalist architecture is part of this reading and shares the same characteristics, so it seems appropriate to understand that the analysis of the church of Saint-Pierre of Firminy might be helpful in order to uncover working tools with which to read a wider range of buildings.

Keywords:Le Corbusier / Poetry / Saint-Pierre of Firminy.