Michaelis Boyd has recently completed the design and construction of their first new-build project in the South of France. Located in the Var, this striking modern house is discreetly set into the hillside overlooking the Mediterranean coastline, its local stone and glass façade blending naturally into the surroundings.
Although inspired by the local architecture of traditional Provençal courtyard houses, the secluded location of this family home afforded space for modern structural innovation. The pared-back design demonstrates Michaelis Boyd’s ethos of fusing elemental nature into organic architecture, and a strong belief in the connection between a building and the surrounding landscape. With this in mind, the external walls are clad in local Gneiss - a natural stone chosen for its distinct foliation stripes and beautiful metallic flecks - which blends naturally with the tonal hues of the cliff.
Simple limestone flooring throughout and natural rendered walls encourage this concept of fluidity between internal and external space, to bring the outside in.
Built over two stories, an expansive ground floor level houses the main living spaces, with 4 generous bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms located on the top floor. Striking contemporary touches feature throughout, including a minimal staircase designed to ‘disappear’ so that the visual focus remains on the breath-taking views of the surrounding landscape. Projecting balconies and roof overhangs have delicately thin edges to lighten the overall look of the stone structure, whilst double height glass doors bookend the building’s spine.
Centrally, double height sliding doors lead onto the courtyard, where a glass balustrade and walkways provide uninterrupted views across the Riviera coastline from every corner of the property. Pared-back interiors were chosen for this home that was designed to inspire relaxation. The furnishings are kept minimal throughout, providing the perfect backdrop for the owners’ collection of artwork that reflects the scenery.
Michaelis Boyd worked with Dodds & Shute to procure statement loose furnishings - design classics from Piero Lissoni or Naoto Fukasawa find their place in the living room. Minimalist Ipe veneered wardrobes feature throughout, designed to have a strong monolithic feel and do away with door handles where possible. A streamlined white kitchen from Bulthaup and minimalist dining area open onto the pool terrace, a favourite place for the family to gather.
“The philosophy of the design is that the house is like a modern-day ruin. In the summer you slide open the doors and all you are left with is a bare structure ” - Alex Michaelis
The architecture is carefully structured to maximise the building’s sustainable assets. Large glass picture-frame windows and doors work alongside stained Ipe hardwood shutters to minimise solar gain. Together they slide back into concealed pockets, transforming the house into an open pavilion. Two wings and a south-facing central courtyard provide cross ventilation and an outdoor space sheltered from prevailing sea winds and strong summer sun. Its north-south axis orientation ensures the infinity edged pool is bathed in warm sunlight and blends into the horizon when viewed from the house.
The grey glass mosaic lining the pool creates a reflective surface that absorbs sunlight, with slate surrounds that help indirectly heat the water to naturally regulate the temperature. Michaelis Boyd worked very closely with local landscape firm Derbez on the landscaping strategy and design throughout the site. The result is a beautifully manicured yet wild, structured yet organic backdrop that softens the distinct angles of this modern new home.