xavier delory conceals le corbusier’s church of firminy behind a layer of grime
(above) south view
all images © xavier delory




xavier delory‘s ongoing ‘pilgrimage along modernity’ project sees the degradation of 20th century architectural monuments as a subversive homage to the modernist movement. iterations of the series previously featured on designboom include le corbusier’s ronchamp chapel covered in graffiti and villa savoye pictured in a state of disrepair


the brussels-based artist continues the series with this latest opus: ‘eglise saint-pierre de firminy: post-mortem’. the project envisions le corbusier’s saint-pierre church in the french region of firminy decaying beyond recognition, its light concrete façade concealed behind a layer of grime and soot. delory has hidden the exterior of the landmark behind a dirty, polluted coat, distorting its exiting architectural qualities and rendering it in a state of neglect and ruination. ‘what is left of the utopia,’ delory questions, ‘the better future that the modern movement promised us at the beginning of the 20th century? these ‘museum buildings’, preserved like precious objects, are the sole vestiges of all that remains of this movement.’

west view of eglise saint-pierre de firminy




construction on the original structure began in 1970, five years after le corbusier’s death. due to budgetary and political complications, the project’s realization was remarkably prolonged. by 1978, only the substructure was built — for 30 years, this base, nicknamed the ‘blockhouse’, remained severed from the rest of the building. in 1993, the town of firminy became keen to the cultural and touristic interest in the building, and work resumed in 2004 under the control of the le corbusier foundation and the direction of josé oubrerie, a former colleague, who had assisted le corbusier in the project’s design. the building finally opened its doors in 2006, and stands as a witness to the architectural ingenuity of le corbusier.

delroy renders the east view of the structure 

the artist hides the southeast view of the landmark behind a dirty coat 

the north view is rendered in a state of neglect and ruination