Villa arson, building 4

Villa Arson

Building 4 houses the technical workshops of the art school. A central north-south pathway prolonging the great hall in building 3 leads to them. Building 4 forms a step between building 3 on the north side and building 5 further down on the south side. By choosing to spread out the architecture horizontally, Michel Marot followed the topography of the slope and terraced gardens of the original property. The rooftop of building 4 forms middle terraces which are the largest of the Villa Arson. They look over the city and the sea. They can be reached through different ways (footbridges, stairways), and offer the stroller a variety of courses through hanging gardens, rough concrete or stone facing, mazes, outdoor amphitheaters, wells of light.

Elevation without the landscaping

These elevations show perfectly the horizontal deployment of the architecture, which follows the slope in the same way as the original terraced gardens.
« I wanted to make the constructions disappear in the greenery, so I decided to spread them out like a lizard in the sun.” (Michel Marot).

A worker is placing the stones by hand. In spite of the scope of the construction site, a handmade aspect remains.

The panels were made by hand on the floor in a wooden form, then they were raised and placed onto the structure.

Construction work starting on the western part of building 4, south of the old Villa which can be seen in the background.

When he drew his plans, Michel Marot was inspired by Mediterranean villages. He created narrow streets, public squares, meeting places, outdoor amphitheaters, mazes.
Here we can see the western part of building 4 and the site of the central street before the construction of the eastern part.

When he drew his plans, Michel Marot was inspired by Mediterranean villages. He created narrow streets, public squares, meeting places, outdoor amphitheaters, mazes. Here we can see the central street leading to the studios of the art school.

A look at the inside of the architecture.
Walls and ceilings were not coated but only painted white.
The wooden formwork is imprinted on the concrete surface, a method which is typical of the so-called “brutalist” architecture, and of its rough aspect.
In spite of the use of this method, Michel Marot refused this term to qualify his creation, and preferred to refer to it as an “architecture for the stroller”, an “obvious” construction.

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.

In the foreground the concrete slab of the terrace of building 5 is being poured. Behind one can see the work site for the elements of the maze, and an interior wall of building 4 with the counter relief indicating the level of the future terraces. In the back the old Villa is being renovated.
The picture is taken from the top of the mastaba.

Construction of the study and research library on the southern side of the ground floor of the Villa. Its roof is the terrace encasing the old Villa. One can see the footbridge on level +1 which allows direct access to this terrace.

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”.

The terrace is being waterproofed before tiling.
The cubic shapes in the foreground are skylights that each have a blade in the middle to diffuse the light. Diamond shaped skylights called “pyramidions” will be installed on top.

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.

Terraces of building 4, the three outdoor amphitheaters, standing at the bow looking towards the sea, evoke the Greek exedras.

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.

Looking south-west from the upper terraces onto the terraces of building 4

From left to right:
west part of building 4, with a series of rough concrete volumes that create a maze on its roof terraces; west part of building 3, with the library and its roof terrace;
lastly, the old Villa before it was raised another level.

The terraces of building 3 ans 4 offer panoramic views over the hills, the city and the sea. Huge parasol pine trees that were preserved alongside the buildings overlook the scene.

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.

South facade of building 4 evokes a fortress with its massive aspect and its crenelated top. 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.

On the right, the east of building 4 is almost finished. In the background, the outdoor corner amphitheater covers the scenography studio.

Roof opening before the installation of the skylights.
In the background two beveled towers emerge from the lower-level. They conceal the chimneys from the ceramics studio.

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.

The drawing studio. The live model poses in the center and the students sit all around on the steps.

Drawing studio

The sculpture studio is on two levels.
Large vertical recessed windows give rhythm to the south façade.
The steps in the ceiling are the exact reverse of the outdoor amphitheater created on the terrace above. Seen from the outside, the Villa Arson looks like a fortress with high walls and recessed arrow slits, even though light abundantly penetrates the volumes.

South-west of building 4, free studio spaces for the students

The central street starts from the main hall of building 3 and leads to all the studios of the school situated in building 4.
It is partly covered by the passageway allowing for circulation on the terraces.
On the left, two beveled towers rise to the upper level. They conceal the chimneys of the ceramic studio.

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.

On the left a stairway leads to the lower-level which houses the school. On the right, two beveled towers emerge from the lower-level. They conceal the chimneys from the ceramics studio. In the background, is the old Villa with the added attic level.

General view of building 4, which is channeled by the preserved parasol pine trees and cypresses.

In the foreground, one of the volumes of the maze on the terrace of building 5.
In the background the south facade of building 4 and the stairway leading to the central street.
The panels of stones have not all been mortared yet. One can observe the difference in appearance due to their on site handmade fabrication, and the various calibers of the available stones.

The three outdoor amphitheaters, standing at the bow looking towards the sea, evoke the Greek exedras.

Terraces of building 4, the three outdoor amphitheaters, standing at the bow looking towards the sea, evoke the Greek exedras.

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.

The skylights are topped with diamond shaped “pyramidions”. Two beveled towers emerge from the lower-level. They conceal the chimneys of the ceramics studio.

The skylights are topped with diamond shaped “pyramidions”. This side was supposed to include a large basin reflecting the sky to evoke the presence of the distant sea. Because water was never put in, the concrete cracked. A hanging garden replaced the project.

The walls and ceilings of the drawing studio are now painted white, like those of all the studios in the art school.

Previously the scenography studio, on the 1966 plans it was meant to be a display studio. The sunken area adds to the possible uses of the space.

South-east of building 4, free studio spaces for the students

Previously a mosaics and mural art studio, later a scenography studio, it is now a studio for the fourth and fifth year students.
The diagonal beams laid out in the shape of a star support the open air amphitheater on the terrace above: the staircase shaped ceiling is the reverse side of the outdoor seats.

South-east of building 4, free studio spaces for the students

Outdoor amphitheater, end of the middle terrace, east side

Outdoor amphitheater, end of the middle terrace, west side

View of the three outdoor amphitheaters at the end of the middle terraces. The windows of the volume in the middle bring light to the lower-level.

The semi-covered aspect of the central street leading to the studios of the art school allows for the creation of outdoor gardens.

On the right behind the parapet, the central street leading to the studios of the art school is doubled by a covered passage whose ceiling is formed by the passageway to the terraces on the level above.

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.

When he drew his plans, Michel Marot was inspired by Mediterranean villages. He created narrow streets, public squares, meeting places, outdoor amphitheaters, mazes. Here we can see the central street leading to the studios of the art school.

Upper level of the previous casting and sculpture studio, now used by the fourth and fifth year students.

The space before it was partitioned into several rooms, which were used by the first year students when the school opened. It now houses the metal, wood and casting workshops.

Metal, wood and casting workshops at the north-west of building 4

The cubic shapes create a maze in the middle of the hanging gardens. Just like the rest of the building, the construction bears the traces of the veins and knots in the wooden planks used for the form-work.

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 passageway is paved with Veronico tiles. The central straight marble line highlighting the perspective evokes a gutter and recalls the structuring lines in Provencal stone streets.
The rough concrete footbridge reunites level 0 of the great hall with the terraces on the roofs of building 4.
This passageway harbors the beginning of the main street leading to the studios of the school. It continues the north – south central axis around which the domain is structured.

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.

A discrete square follows the natural slope of the hill. It is part of a pathway running along the east side of the domain, which goes from the entrance garden to the south of the Villa, and testifies to the fact that none of the spaces were left to the randomness of the terrain.

In the foreground is the stairway which continues the eastern pathway running along building 5.
The arrangement of the textures and volumes corresponds to the themes of the entire architecture: subtle arrangement of the volumes, pointillism of the stone walls, smooth or rough concrete, constant presence of greenery.

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.

Main access to the terraces of building 4, in line with the great hall of building 3. As the passage progresses towards the south, it turns off, divides up, offering a variety of narrower paths.

In the center of the photograph, Michel Marot has played with interrupting the volumes to design a line made of empty spaces and full spaces. This discrete gap structures the composition and separates the west and east bodies of the building which were built successively.

South – west open-air amphitheater at the bow of the building's terraces. Choreographers, dancers and performers often use the sloping wall in their scenography.

Labyrinth, antique ruin, futuristic vessel, modern fortress: all this has been said of Michel Marot's oeuvre by its many commentators.

Rehearsing a play in the south – east open air amphitheater. The half closed volume at the center of the image is a dressing room or a backstage for the artists.

Plants proliferate in the well of light created by the footbridges on the terrace of the upper-level. The central street, protected by the path that runs along the terraces, is in the shade. The mastery of light is a distinguishing feature which fashions the entire domain.

North part of the central street which leads to the studios of the art school.

The positioning of the low walls on the terraces guide the stroller along a variety of pathways conducive to contemplation.

The diversity of the volumes, the alternating of textures, the use of the greenery, give a bountiful aspect to the ensemble which is organized along strong directing lines.

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.

The end of the domain, with buildings 4 and 5 surrounded by greenery. One can see the end of the alley of cypresses and the passage that prolongs it where three neoclassical statues have been placed inside niches. The ensemble looks like a fortress paradoxically trying to be discreet.

A “mere” raising of the original gardens, the hanging gardens are a combination of stones and greenery.

Situated between the scenography and the sculpture studios, a stairway prolongs the semi-covered street that goes from building 4 to the terraces of building 5.

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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