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Sainte Bernadette Du Banlay

Nevers, France
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Built between 1963 and 1966, the Church of St. Bernadette in Nevers Banlay materializes the coincidence of two streams of research: "archaeological bunkers" by Paul Virilio based on his book (Bunker Archaeology, 1958-1975) and Claude Parent's research "Fonction Oblique" (Oblique Architecture) which was a modern exploration of the break and slope.

The church fractures two heavy, rising masses which overhang on a central pillar. This is the pivot point, what Parent expresses as a 'loophole'. The 'loophole' is a determining factor in the development of the project, the fracture can rethink in the same voltage, the the discontinuity of space.

The monolithic shell consists of two reinforced concrete tombs, evoking the grotto of Lourdes. This church strikes the minds of a time still marked by the Second World War, terrorized by the Cold War and the nuclear threat. In Bunker Archeology, Virilio speaks about these "altars erected as a concrete face with the emptiness of the ocean sea," as seen in funerary architecture of Etruscan tombs and mastabas. St. Bernadette is a sacred space in which the military language establishes itself as a paradox: the bunker is a figure of oppression and shelter, the cave as an incarnation of the origin of humanity, but also grave, the Church as a symbol of introspection and reach toward light. The plan and elevation of the sanctuary have no precedent in the history of religious architecture in the 20th century.

The Catholic church was listed as a historic monument in 2005.

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  1. Wikipedia
  2. Frac
  3. French Culture Forum
enbake, March 21st, 2016
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