The homes at the Domaine de Lavagnac have been designed by award-winning architect Pascale Malet-Seeli. Below are excerpts of a recent interview with her where she talked about the challanges she faced as well as the philosophy behind her superb, contemporary designs.
Working with the environment:
The biggest challenge with this project was the site. It’s 180 hectares of land - that’s 440 acres, and is effectively 5 kilometres long. In some areas we have dense woodland. In others we have garrigue - a mix of scrub and wild herbs such as thyme and rosemary. Other areas are rocky. So a huge variety of landscapes. So we’ve designed each hamlet and avenue to fit in with its surroundings. For example, when I was designing houses that were surrounded by forest - I would use more wood in the design. When in more rocky areas, I would design the houses using more stone.
Each hamlet & avenue will be unique:
In this development, I don’t think it would be too much to say that each property is truly unique. Once in your particular hamlet or avenue, you’ll notice a distinct personality to each house, each will have its own individual landscaping, its own colours, all of which combines to make each house feel quite different.
Contemporary - not 'pastiche':
What we really wanted to get across in the design of these houses was that they are very much within the south of France. The president of the French planning commission insisted that we avoid pastiche designs - and instead go for a more contemporary look. And this freed us to design houses that help you make the most of the way of live in the south - designs that invite the outside in - by creating large openings that allow you to access outside areas. We then went on to create very airy, spacious and bright properties with very large windows.
In terms of materials - our starting point that was that this was a truly exceptional and unique estate - so we felt it necessary to only use materials that enhanced the luxury nature of the development. Stone, wood, steel - we only used materials that were going to add a lot of character to the homes, and that would, over time, allow them to integrate into their surroundings.
On the interior spaces:
If you asked me what it would be like to live in one of these homes - I’d say that the most surprising thing would be the amount of light pouring in. Partly because we’re in the south of France - but also because of the height of the ceilings. The Cox brothers were insistent that we didn’t have standard 2.5 meter ceilings - but instead designed the houses to achieve a real sense of volume - with large sliding glass doors that open on to either gardens or terraces - often with views of the golf course. Inside, you feel like you’re outside. And in the south of France that really feels wonderful.