The building, which is a truncated cone on a rectangular base, crowned with a small bell tower, was completed by José Ubreri, a student of the great architect, with whom Le Corbusier once developed the project of this religious building.
The Church of Saint-Pierre is part of the whole complex of buildings by Le Corbusier, created by him at the end of his life for the mining town of Firmini. It is also the House of Culture, one Unité d'Habitation - "residential unit", and a stadium. The church was not completed in the 1960s and 1970s, when this most important ensemble of Le Corbusier structures in Europe was being built, as the diocese of Saint-Etienne refused to fund the project. As a result, the building stood unfinished until 2004, when work resumed with funds from local secular authorities and the EU. Since, according to the laws of France, the state cannot pay for the construction of religious buildings, the church will be used as a branch of the Museum of Modern Art Saint-Etienne and a room for theatrical performances. The interest of the French authorities in the construction of Saint-Pierre was also influenced by the request they are now preparing to UNESCO for the inclusion of Le Corbusier's buildings on the territory of this country in the list of World Heritage Sites. An attentive attitude even to the unfinished works of the master should incline the opinion of the leadership of this international organization in their favor.
At the same time, it remains unclear to what extent the new building can be attributed to the great modernist: its project was far from complete at the time of his death in 1965, and the construction, begun in 1971, proceeded according to the drawings modified by his student Ubreri. Also, already at the present stage of work, Le Corbusier's ideas had to be changed due to the tightened French building legislation. So, it was necessary to arrange air conditioning and heating systems in the temple, although natural ventilation was originally planned. Also, Ubreri turned the priest's apartment and the Sunday School premises on the ground floor into an exhibition hall.
But, despite the question of authorship, the church makes a strong impression: its cone echoes the hills surrounding Firmini, its forms more resemble a primitive pagan sanctuary than a Christian temple (hence the refusal of the local bishop to finance the construction). Inside, there are asymmetrically placed benches for worshipers, a floor that slopes gently from the choir to the altar, narrow ribbons of windows and sheaves of light from two "light wells" at the top of the cone. Thick concrete walls are punched to the right of the altar by a series of small holes: dazzlingly sparkling in the twilight of the church, they depict the constellation Orion.
In parallel with the news of the completion of the construction of Saint-Pierre de Firmini, news came that the parishioners of another sacred structure of Le Corbusier - the pilgrimage chapel of Notre-Dame de Haut in Ronchamp - decided to return spirituality to the tourist-flooded monument. They invited Renzo Piano to erect a complex of the nunnery of the Order of Claris next to the chapel. In total, no more than 12 nuns will live there, who are going to talk with visitors to the chapel in Ronshan (more than 100 thousand people a year in total) and try to guide them on the path of the Christian faith.
The complex will also include accommodations for monastery guests and a new visitor center, and a large number of trees will be planted.