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Monastery of the Carmelo in Bonmoschetto

1958 Sanremo (Imperia)

Carmelitane sisters

In Gio Ponti, the sacred was expressed in joy, as it was in this convent of enclosure contrasted in its day with Le Corbusier's monastery of La Tourette.The protagonists of this architecture are the white walls, in their contact with the greenery and the sky. Its heart is the chapel; transparent/non-transparent, it is set just between the outside world» and the convent. It does not have walls but screens. From the outside it looks closed, from the inside, open: open to an outside world of flowers and greenery, but one that is in turn enclosed, surrounded by a wall - the parvis. The cloister forms another heart: it is at the centre of the convent, with no more transparency, and its portico has light wooden crosses as columns. The wood leads to the interiors: in the cells, the refectory, and the choir, there is nothing but wood and white walls. The three years required to carry out this work made possible a unique (and never forgotten) debate between the nuns and the architect over what is a convent and what is architecture. It was the architect who said, to the Carmelites de Saint Elie: building a convent is not an architectural problem, but a religious one. And it was the nuns who, on Le Corbusier's death, had a Mess celebrated for him in the chapel of their convent. The project was by Gio Ponti and Antonio Fornaroli.