Villa Arson, Building 3

Villa Arson

Building 3 is the main part of the Villa Arson. Punctuated by seven patios, it has seven levels including three in the basement. The modern building encases and magnifies the old Villa whose three levels tower over the entire site. After the events of 1968, the new ministry of culture required changes in the layout of the place and notably required the creation of a theater below the great room in building 3. It was more or less used for about 10 years, then it was closed because of ground water problems. Building 3 now houses the exhibition spaces of the National Center for Contemporary Art, a huge hallway on two levels, the study and research library, the department for digital creation, student exhibition spaces, studios for artists in residence, four auditoriums, boarding facilities, various technical spaces and reserves. Its terraces, called upper terraces, look over the entire domain and wrap around the old Villa.

Digging for lower levels (exhibition spaces, theater) made it necessary to consolidate and to add foundations under the old Villa.

Preparing the foundations around the old Villa. In the foreground are the foundations of the north part of building 3. Level -1 will house the boiler room and part of the exhibition spaces.

Construction of level -1, west side of building 3 and disassembling the roof to prepare for the addition of a story.

The construction of the west side is well under way, the east side does not exist yet, and is taken up by storage and the construction site.
The two sides are separated by the great hall, by building 3 and by the central street which traverses building 4 from north to south.

On the north side of the Villa are the future exhibition spaces of the National Center for Contemporary Art.

Ongoing excavation for the east side of building 3 and the theater.
On the left of the old Villa, is the study and research library.
On the right, are the the National Center for Contemporary Art exhibition spaces on level -1.

Ongoing excavation for the east part of building 3, one can see the slope for the rows of seats in the theater.

Beginning of the construction for the theater. The ribbed rough concrete motif in front of the Villa appears for the first time and will cover all the walls of the great hall.

Building 3, the main element of the architectural ensemble, opens onto a huge hall on two levels.

Construction of the stage for the theater, on the right are the stairways passing under the great hall.

In the foreground is the northwest part of building 3 which houses the exhibition spaces of today's National Center for Contemporary Art.
In the background is the passageway to level +1 which allows access to the northern terraces of building 3 from the Villa.

View of part of the passageways which are now taken up by the contemporary art study and research library.
The floor again uses Veronico tiles, with a rhythm of marble lines reminiscent of the separation structure on the Provencal stone streets.
On either side of the passage leading to the old Villa, patios have been arranged as gardens and receive the light of day coming from the terraces.

Entrance on the southern side of the ground floor of the Old Villa from the study and research library

A view of auditorium 1 before the seats and tables were placed on the long circular tiers.

Auditorium 1, south-west of building 3

One of the rooms of the National Center for Contemporary Art. The ground is made of unpolished marble. Various natural lighting systems are used here: skylights, vertical bay windows, glass doors leading to a patio.
The mastery of light is a key element of Michel Marot's architecture.

From left to right:
the coffers on the ceiling of the current Galerie Carrée;
installing the machinery for the theater above the stage;
educational space of the Galerie d'essais dedicated to the students.

North-east of the terrace on building 3 roof, view on diamond shaped skylights of the exhibition space called Galerie Carrée, inspired by industrial sawtooth roofs.

Construction of the south – east part of building 3.

On the left, the exhibition space called Galerie Carrée and its diamond shaped skylights inspired by industrial sawtooth roofs.
On the right, construction of the great hall entrance on two levels with its monumental stairway leading to the central street and the studios of the school of art.

The forecourt of building 3 is a transition between the circular shapes structuring the Bosco and the rest of the domain with its cubic volumes and straight lines.

The coffers of the ceiling of the Galerie Carrée. “For educational purposes, I wanted to alternate the monumental and the intimate: the big exhibition room is next to the hall, which is decorated by the great chandeliers made of polyhedral modules of Murano glass” (Michel Marot).

On the left, the roof of the Galerie Carrée where the roofing is being installed on the pyramids , these are inspired by sawtooth industrial roofs.
In the center the roof over the stage is almost complete.
On the right is the patio and behind it the block including the kitchen with the dining room on the south side (not visible on the picture). These spaces are now the educational spaces of the Galerie d'essais dedicated to the students.

On the east the boarding facilities for the students running the length of the Galerie Carrée.
There are 20 rooms on two levels, the upper level initially being reserved for women. There are also two levels in the basement for the infirmary, logistics and kitchen reserves.

The north – west terrace of building 3 covers part of the exhibition spaces which receive light through windows that were inspired by industrial sawtooth roofs.
Several patios also give light to the galleries.

In the foreground the railing includes the regularly spaced tops of the pillars that divide the plant boxes. These volumes juxtapose stone veneer and rough concrete with traces of veins and knots from the wooden planks used for the form-work.

In the foreground, from left to right, buildings 2 and 1.
In the background is the entrance garden called the “Bosco”.
Further back is building 3 with the old Villa towering over the domain.

Original space of the library, which has been extended onto the adjacent corridor after destroying the walls on the right.
The research library has a collection of 45,000 documents dedicated to art.

Study and research library, south-west of building 3

The art library looking onto the roof terraces of building 4, before it was reconfigured. The collection includes 45,000 books.

Auditorium 2, before the furniture was installed. From the beginning it has been used for theory classes.

Auditorium 3, before the furniture was installed. From the beginning it has been used for theory classes and occasionally for conferences.

Four patios surround the old Villa with a setting of greenery to the north and to the south.
The north – west patio can be seen on this picture.
It is delimited by the great hall on the east side, by the current study and research library on the south side, by two corridors which can be seen on this picture on the north and west sides.
All the floors are tiled with Veronico tiles rhythmically separated by marble lines reminiscent of the stones used for separation on the Provencal stone streets.
Today the western corridor has been closed and divided into two spaces: an extension of the library and a technical studio.

Building 3, the main element of the architectural ensemble, opens onto a huge hall on two levels.
It comes out below the middle terraces of building 4 towards the semi-covered central street leading to the studios of the school of art.
The vertically striped motif of some of the walls gives rhythm to the movement of the eyes and of the body, it accentuates the perspective and plays with light.
Other walls reveal the horizontal formwork motif, asserting convergence lines and the segmentation of space. The floor was later covered with Veronico tiles.

Building 3, the main element of the architectural ensemble, opens onto a huge hall on two levels.

The chandeliers are animated by a fractal-like structure where each light is made of truncated triangular facets. They create a strong contrast with the orthogonal austerity of the hall. They were taken down towards the end of the 1980s.

Three colors were used for the lights, from yellow to white, which the chandeliers diffract in steps.
This use of light seems to extend certain organic characteristics of the outside architecture into the very heart of the building (stone veneer, greenery, traces of the wooden formwork in the concrete).

Before being lit in the evening, this chandelier diffused the natural light from the upper terrace onto the stairway leading to the theater.
It was taken down towards the end of the 1980s.
There is now an elevator instead which stops on all four levels, from the basement to the terraces.

The lights composing the chandeliers have an embossed surface and amber colors, typical of traditional Venetian lanterns.
Their shape and texture echoes the Veronico tiles on the ground.

The monumental chandeliers made of Murano glass shed a warm light on the great hall. Like a giant primitive organism evolving in waves, it colonizes the central ceiling and the well of light which now houses the elevator.
It was taken down towards the end of the 1980s.

The covered path runs along building 3, with a parallel open air alley separating it from building 4. The two together are called “auditorium alley”.

Auditorium alley, an open air passageway separating buildings 3 and 4. There is a sheltered path behind the pillars. At the end of the overhanging terraces of the upper level are large rough concrete planters.

he viewpoint is the top of the stairs leading to Auditorium Alley. All the way at the end the alley joins up with the Bosco or entrance garden.
The west façade of building 3 evokes a fortress whose walls, covered with stones, echo the pointillism of the surrounding greenery.

Called “auditorium alley” this passage separates buildings 3 and 4.
The footbridges give access to the roof terraces of building 4.
On the left overhanging planters crown the façade of building 3.
This arrangement creates an aerial atmosphere in this monumental passageway and allows for circulating in the shade.

Detail of a recessed window and its characteristic design: the square on the lower right is the basic motif that structures doors and windows in the whole institution.

The ex-student cafeteria, which has been replaced by an exhibition space dedicated to the students called “Galerie d'essais”.

South-east of building 3, exhibition space dedicated to the students called “Galerie d'essais”.

View from the current study and research library.
Behind the glass doors one can see the self service cafeteria of the old student restaurant, which is now an educational space dedicated to the students called the Galerie d'essais.

Situated behind the current edition studios, the garden now boasts an in-situ work by Bertrand Lavier.
Benefiting from the shade of parasol pine trees, this open space is aptly situated in the surrounding architectural complex.

One can see what used to be the cafeteria, with the footbridge and stairway directly leading to the garden.

The exit of what used to be the cafeteria, shaded by tall parasol pine trees, makes the place more habitable and more pleasant.

Situated behind the current edition studios, the garden now boasts an in-situ work by Bertrand Lavier. Benefiting from the shade of parasol pine trees, this open space is aptly situated in the surrounding architectural complex.

The Bosco is finished, a circular pavement of Veronico tiles surrounds each one of the trees that has been preserved or planted on the lawn.

The forecourt of building 3 is a transition between the circular shapes structuring the Bosco and the rest of the domain with its cubic volumes and straight lines.

The original olive trees were preserved.
In the background two walls have been artificially thickened by adding a bend to create an intimate garden. A large opening gives access to it.
This element creates continuity between the greenery and the buildings bearing natural motifs.

On the right of the forecourt of the great hall entrance, the exhibition spaces of the National Center for Contemporary Art look onto an intimate and shady garden.

Forecourt of building 3. On the right, two walls have been artificially thickened by adding a bend to create an intimate garden.

Auditorium alley, an open air passageway separating buildings 3 and 4. There is a sheltered path behind the pillars. At the end of the overhanging terraces of the upper level are large rough concrete planters.

Auditorium alley, an open air passageway separating buildings 3 and 4.

Credits: Story

Direction
Jean-Pierre Simon

In charge of the project
Cédric Moris Kelly

Legal issues
Alain Avena

Digitalization
Under the guidance of Patrick Aubouin

Editorial staff
Patrick Aubouin
Cédric Moris Kelly

Translation
Claire Bernstein

Data entry in Google Cultural Institute interface
Cédric Moris Kelly

Digitalization of spaces by Google Street View team was made possible thanks to the mobilization of Villa Arson technical teams:

Reception, monitoring and maintenance
Joël Jauny

Reception, monitoring & accommodation
Isabelle Clausse
Dave Dhurmajee
Marlène Lebrusq
Jean-Pierre Vitry

Technical / Buildings staff
Jean-Paul Carpentier
Gérard Maria
Pascal Rigaux
Michel Serve

Gardens
Patrice Lorho
Pascal Pujol
Kévin Serviole

Thanks to Michel Marot for the graceful authorization to use the archives collection Marot Tremblot Architecture (MTA)

With the support of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and the Google Street View and Google Cultural Institute teams

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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