Jose Oubrerie: The Chapel of Mosquitoes

Banvard Gallery / Knowlton Hall
February 3, 2016 - 5:00pm to February 25, 2016 - 5:00pm

The Exhibit

Jose Oubrerie: The Chapel of Mosquitoes

This exhibition presents three paintings and three buildings spanning some 43 years. Each project deals with fundamental architectural dichotomies: light-shade, enclosure-opening, and stasis-movement.

The Chapel of the Mosquitoes
Dutchess County, New York, 2015

The Miller House
Lexington, Kentucky, 1991

The French Cultural Center
Damascus, Syria, 1972

The Damascus project is conceived of as a continuous interior surface. Its enclosed continuous interiority relates in part to the formal complexity of Le Corbusier's Villa La Roche, and, in part, to a new architectural topology, a "Moebiusian" one.

While the Miller House deals with the "explosion of the cube," (i.e. with fragmentation), its spatial structure is reminiscent of Theo van Doesburg's diagrams. Every one of its fragments is a building by itself, autonomous, yet interrelated to the others.

Damascus and Miller House constitute two opposite spatial investigations whose formal conflicting approaches are synthesized in the Chapel of the Mosquitoes (the Chapel). The Chapel becomes a contraction of these two projects, and at the same time, possesses attributes of both.

The Chapel, commissioned and encouraged by Steven Holl for his residential and gallery complex in Rhinebeck, New York, features a light-water diagonal conduit that pierces the roof and floor and is a contemporary interpretation of a ladder in a kiva — a traditional round Pueblo Indian form — in which the ladder joins the sky and earth. There is no real sipapu, the round hole in the kiva's floor through which the spirits of the ancients can exude. However, in the Chapel, the ground is visible and the floor sometimes retracts; it practically enters inside, or reciprocally, the floor extends and reaches the outside.

The Chapel represents a dialogue between Oubrerie and Holl, where creative comradery fueled new work and fresh ways of representing architectural ideas. Behind the scenes and influencing the work are days of good wine and food, walks and conversation, and the sharing of books and travels. Friendship can be as potent an architectural tool as much as any technique or technology can be. Holl prompts Oubrerie, pushes him. Oubrerie pushes back; better and better work ensues.

This exhibition was made possible with the support of 'T'space gallery, Steven Holl, and José Oubrerie. To contribute to the Chapel of Mosquitoes construction fund, please contact the Steven Myron Holl Foundation at This architectural charity will match all contributions.


Jose Oubrerie, the last living protégé of Le Corbusier, is a Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the Knowlton School. Oubrerie joined the School as Chair of the Architecture Department in 1994 after his tenure as Dean of the College of Architecture at the University of Kentucky. After an early career in painting, Oubrerie studied architecture in Paris and went on to work in Le Corbusier’s office from 1957–1965. He collaborated with his mentor during the final years of his life, working on numerous projects such as the Brazil Pavilion, Hotel d’Orsay, the Strasbourg Convention Center, the Olivetti Offices and Factories in Milan, the Venice Hospital, the Zurichhorn Pavillion, and the Firminy Church. In 1970, Oubrerie became a registered architect and started his own office in Paris with several commissions: to establish the final project for the Firminy Church; to rebuild the Esprit Nouveau Pavilion in Bologna in collaboration with Giuliano Gresleri; to build a Computer and Research Center in Fontainebleau for the École des Mines de Paris; and to realize the French Cultural Center in Damascus, Syria. Later, while teaching in Lexington, Kentucky, he created with his wife Atelier Wylde-Oubrerie, to build the Miller House.

Oubrerie’s work has received numerous awards and has been published internationally. He has also taught in the Architecture School of Beaux-arts in Paris, The Cooper Union, Columbia GSAPP, CCNY School of Architecture, and Cornell University. Oubrerie recently released the book Architecture With and Without Le Corbusier, featuring the Miller House and the Firminy Church, which was completed by Oubrerie in 1996, and was listed by the 2010 World Architecture Survey as the second most important structure built in the 21st century.

About the Gallery

The Banvard Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Gallery is located on the first floor of Knowlton Hall on the campus of The Ohio State University.