In order to improve the welcome to visitors on the hill Notre-Dame du Haut, the tourist entrance pavilion (La Porterie) was built by Renzo Piano and opened in September 2011.
In accordance with the architectural project as a whole, the public spaces of the gatehouse are open to the landscape (including a winter garden), while the remaining spaces are carved into the slopes of the hillside - as is the case with the Monastery of St. Clare. The whole building has been designed to allow for free movement between the reception area and the administrative offices of the visitor’s pavilion. Thinking about the whole project was conducted jointly by the Renzo Piano Studio (Renzo Piano Building Workshop [RPBW]) and the the Charitable Association Œuvre Notre-Dame du Haut.
The visitor’s pavilion entrance brings visitors to the heart of the building, in the strict sense as well as figuratively, with a large open fireplace made of concrete. Coloured red, the fire warms the visitor’s eye as much as it invites him/her to take time and relax on one of the concrete benches adjacent to the fireplace. In Le Corbusier’s phrase: “I wanted to create a place of prayer, silence, peace and inner joy”.
The furniture has been designed similarly to that in the Monastery : the tables and chairs being created by the Belgian designer Maarten Van Severen (1956 - 2005), reproduced by Vitra and custom-built as wooden furniture by the Italian company, Riva. The red and grey colours enhance the mainly grey colour of the place while the wooden furniture and the winter garden warm the atmosphere of the space.
As a dividing line, the fireplace separates two parts of the Renzo Piano building. On the one side, a meeting room and an area for relaxation where Le Corbusier’s model of the chapel (made in 1954) and Renzo Piano’s models are on show. On the other side there is the reception office and a gift shop, which offers a broad range of books on art and architecture as well as souvenirs and exclusive products reflecting the main themes of the Notre-Dame du Haut hill.
The tourist entrance pavilion is the place to start discovering the Hill Notre-Dame du Haut.