AN ARCHITECTURE OF INELOQUENCE: José Lluis Sert's Carmel de la Paix by J.K. Birksted
Set on a hillside near Cluny, in a region associated with religious institutions and sacred architecture (including Le Corbusier's La Tourette), Le Carmel de la Paix, designed by Jose Luis Sert, remains tranquilly unvisited and quietly erased from architectural history. Why? This unusual convent falls outside the standard categories of Sert's architecture and has been overlooked in most publications about his work. As J.K. Birksted explains, the design and construction process for this building proved nightmarish, resulting in a building which, at first sight, appears to be 'ineloquent'. This first detailed examination of this building shows how the convent and the story of its creation offer valuable and important new insights into Sert, his architecture and his life. However, the study also opens up discussions on wider subjects such as the relationships between modernist architecture and ecclesiastical architecture. The design and construction of the Carmel de la Paix (1968-1972) followed the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican (1962-1965), which introduced fundamental changes and proposals for renewing the relationship between the Church and the changing modern world and the convent provides an interesting illustration of this period. In addition, it offers insights into the fascinating world of the Carmelite order and its specific liturgical requirements, and, reflecting on the nuns' active involvement in the design and construction process, it also explores wider issues of women in architecture.
Eamonn Canniffe leads the Architecture Research Centre and the MA in Architecture + Urbanism at the Manchester School of Architecture. He was educated in Architecture at Cambridge and Harvard Universities. In 1996 he held a Rome Scholarship in the Fine Arts at the British School at Rome. Between 1986 and 1998 he taught at the University of Manchester School of Architecture, and between 1998 and 2006 at the University of Sheffield School of Architecture. He is the author of Urban Ethic: Design in the Contemporary City (Routledge 2006) (Chinese edition 城市伦理--当代城市设计 2013) and The Politics of the Piazza: the history and meaning of the Italian square (Ashgate 2008). He is co-author (with Tom Jefferies) of Manchester Architecture Guide (1999) and (with Peter Blundell Jones) of Modern Architecture through Case Studies 1945-1990 (Architectural Press 2007), (Chinese edition 现代建筑的演变 1945--1990年 2009) (Spanish edition Modelos de la Arquitectura Moderna -Volumen II 1945-1990 2013). For a number of years he has served as Architecture Series Editor for Ashgate Publishing.