“It seemed to me a good idea to preserve the site and the greenery rather than the old buildings, whose spirit could be re-created with new buildings […]. So I simply raised the existing terraces by approximately 5 meters so as to house the studios and preserve the shady part of the garden for recreational purposes.[…] Because the project was so vast it seemed to me that one had to respect the site rather than the historical monument” (Michel Marot, letter from February 18, 1965). The descending slope of the hill generated a succession of levels and terraces. While highlighting the topography, the architectural ensemble is deployed horizontally, imitating the arrangement in steps of the old gardens. The terraces thus appear to be a major element, but not just for aesthetic reasons. Michel Marot also considered it to be an educational project: “this is not the typical geometrical and closed space of all those “silo” shaped schools whose main concern is not teaching art”, there is no “criminal verticality”
In the foreground the dark volumes are elements from the coffered ceilings that can be seen in almost all the rooms of the Villa Arson.
On the right is the maze which was inspired by antique ruins. For Michel Marot, this maze “develops the secret” and “creates a feeling of belonging for both student and teacher”.
Waterproofing before tiling.
In the middle, the rough concrete volumes create a maze on the terraces. In the background one can see the tiers of one of the open air amphitheaters.
The eastern part of the domain is being used as a work site before the rest of the buildings are raised on the entire width of the hill.
On the right, the east side of building 4.
Two workers are preparing the concrete formwork for the beams of the future scenography studio at the south-east end of building 4. The diagonal beams laid out in the shape of a star accompany the penetration of light inside the space and support the corner amphitheater situated on the middle terraces.
In the foreground, one can see the south part of the pediments of the old Villa.
Inspired by the original pediments, they were made of poured concrete. The exterior side was coated and painted, the interior side remained exposed after removal of the formwork.
An attic was added which was used as a studio by the director of the institution. Today it houses the offices of the administration.
In the background the south facade of building 4 evokes a fortress with its massive aspect and its crenelated top.
This feeling is also present on the east and west facades of the domain. The windows are sheltered in vertical recesses, testifying to the special care with which Michel Marot dealt with mastering light, both for composing the volumes and making the place habitable.
In the foreground a series of rough concrete volumes with ribbed motifs create a maze.
The horizontal and rectangular blades seen on top diffuse the light from the skylights encased within each volume.
In the background an open air pyramidal construction, directly inspired by Egyptian mastabas, allows for the passage of light on the level below.
At the end, the external walls of the terrace include windows that are inspired by industrial sawtooth roofs and also provide light for the level below.
In the foreground is the upper terrace around the old Villa, in the background are the terraces of building 4, called middle terraces and divided by the main street leading to the studios. The street has been partly covered by a passage that shelters it and allows for rambling around the hanging gardens.
One can see the semi-covered aspect of the central street leading to the studios of the art school following a north-south axis.
On the level above, the access to the terraces follows the progression of the central street and shelters it at the same time. Perpendicular passageways allow for exploring the hanging gardens through a complex arrangement of paths.
The play between the volumes, the textures and the controlled light is typical of the entire domain. On the right, two towers conceal the chimneys of the ceramic studio and rise to the level above.
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.
The tops of the façade walls are crenelated horizontally, which matches the rhythm of the tiers that the stroller has to walk up to fully enjoy the view towards the city and the sea. When the stroller turns around, he/she faces the stage, which is full south, and the perspective of the terraces all the way to the red façade of the old Villa.
The strong contrasts on this photograph accentuate the composition of the volumes.
The old Villa is another version of the repertoire of parallelepipeds it is mounted on, and its raised roof echoes the pyramid-like forms on the terraces. The architect succeeded in creating a symbiosis between the old and the new.
In charge of the project
Cédric Moris Kelly
Under the guidance of Patrick Aubouin
Cédric Moris Kelly
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
Reception, monitoring & accommodation
Technical / Buildings staff
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