Villa Varoise by Nadaaa

In the South of France, sited on a hill of olive trees, pinus pinea, and a vineyard, a family retreat was designed with a key mission of maintaining the vitality of the site.

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A small agricultural plot, the family had the intention of cultivating the landscape as part of their stewardship. The most significant result of the integration of landscape and house is the production of a monumental vaulted threshold to a central courtyard. For centuries, the enclosed courtyard has been overlaid on various geographic settings—each time transformed according to the climate, rituals, and construction practices of the place. A vehicle to capture the outdoors within the building, the courtyard is defined by its interiority. The slipped court of this project provides simultaneous interiority and exteriority—protected and private as well as extroverted and engaged. The resulting vault is a ruled surface that mediates between the geometry of the supporting stair at the northeast corner, the pool, and living areas above. The house respects strict zoning guidelines, while merging with the landscape, leveraging the sloping terrain, and producing sustainable systems for amplification and cultivation. Beneath the roof are the primary living, eating, and sleeping spaces. The lower wing is conceived as a street-corridor, activated by a reading room and bunk rooms that open directly onto the landscape. Many of the living spaces of this house are outdoors, taking advantage of varying views, times of the day and public vs. private moments. For this reason, the architecture of the house extends into the landscape, retains it, and frames spaces in between.

In collaboration with local architects Bidard & Raissi.

Photography courtesy of Nadaaa

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- by Matt Watts