Notre-Dame du Raincy

Earlier this week I visited—for the first time—Notre-Dame du Raincy, the church built in 1922–23 by brothers Auguste and Gustave Perret. It is a seminal early example of reinforced concrete construction, with membrane-like walls of stained-glass framed in concrete. I found it to be a truly significant structure, a fascinating reinterpretation of the tradition of French religious architecture. What an experience; the space feels monumental, simple and direct in its physicality, and yet transcendent. I am thinking about it like a William Carlos Williams poem, minimalist, realist, but also magical.

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But here’s the headline: at nearly 100 years old, the building is experiencing some degradation. Rebar is visible and corroding in several places. A display inside the church says it is “a monument in danger.” Donations are sought.

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