Nouvel's analysis began with the site. It is rocky and steep, almost a cliff, and partly cut into by an old quarry. At the top, pine trees overlook the sea, with a similar seaward view across the whole site. The appropriate architecture would therefore follow the profile of the cliff, almost as an extension of it. “A minimal, mineral architecture” is how Nouvel describes it. The exterior façades are finished in polished stone, matching in color the natural stonework of the cliff. In using a natural material with an artificial surface, Nouvel both accepted the dictates of the site and expressed the imposition of the new structure over the original another feature of the site plays on the natural/artificial ambiguity : there is a waterfall from the top of the site to the bottom, ending with a cascade of rocks into a large blue swimming pool; the pool has a false horizon on the seaward side so that the blue water of the pool merges almost seamlessly with sky and distant sea. This layered approach to the contextual possibilities of the project is a key to Nouvel's approach to architecture. The constraints of the site become the starting point for a further series of visual and physical allusions (but not illusions) that give the whole development its concrete and individual character. By using stone and cutting and polishing it like concrete Nouvel both affirms the requisites of the site and his own intervention into it.
Conway Lloyd Morgan
in "The Elements of Architecture"
- Status: Inaugurated 1991
- Location: Cap D'ail, France
- Dates: 1988-1991
- Net floor area: 5 860m2, 58 600sq ft
- Program: 174 Vacation homes, administration offices, car park, swimming pool
- Construction cost: 10 520 000€, 9 600 000$,(69 000 000frf, 1991 values)
- Client: Investment company “Pierre et Vacances” SIPV
- Jean Nouvel et associés
- Project Manager: Barbara Salin
- Assistant Project Manager: Isabelle Agostini
- Landscaping: Olivier Chardin
- Engineering: Coplan, Socotec Mediterrannee