This research is continued in Saint Joseph’s church, built by Perret as a landmark and urban reference in his reconstruction of the French city of Le Havre. The structure assumes a more relevant role in this case, and, larger in scale, becomes more present. Historical references are left behind, to turn the volume of the temple into a podium that supports an immense lantern tower. Its scale and shape make it resemble a skyscraper that has been emptied on the inside. In the tower, the dematerialization of the facade is not as radical as the one in Raincy but is more complex, since the stained-glass facade has a structural function. Inside the temple, the weight of the tower is distributed over multiple structural elements of concrete as it reaches the ground. The different concrete elements do not try to conceal their structural function, but, on the contrary, they clearly express what their role is in the transmission of the structural stresses.
The devastation that followed World War II led to an awakening of religious sentiments in some European countries: society found itself in need of reestablishing social networks that translated into a renovated religiousness, linked to those in ancient Christian communities. It is a religiousness which is more intimate and essential, and such are the spaces that accommodate its ceremonies. They are austere, they dispense with non-essential elements such as decoration, and they promote a sense of gathering. Poetry is achieved through the configuration of space and not through decoration or iconographic elements.
To address these needs for renovation, Pope John XIII called for the Second Vatican Council, held between 1962 and 1965. Amongst other theological relevant aspects, the Council intended a renewal of Christian liturgy that urged for a reorganization of the spaces of worship: Latin was replaced by vernacular languages, mass was no longer to be held with the officiant turning its back to the audience but facing it, and preaching was understood in a more didactic and direct way. In parallel, the liturgical space needed to be organized differently from before: the congregation was arranged to facilitate a community spirit, where the altar is the heart of the church and allows for a less formal distribution of seats, that often surround the altar,
These changes had significant consequences in the organization of religious spaces and marked an end to the traditional plan of the basilical nave. New dispositions in plan and section appeared, resulting from the withdrawal of the pulpit and the change in the positioning of the preacher, who now shares the same level of the congregants. In Le Havre’s church, the altar is set in a central position, surrounded by benches located at its same level, and aligned with the powerful vertical axis created by the inner void of the tower.