Studios beneath the garden
Villa Arson, which has hosted the ArchiCOTE competition for the past 10 years, is a fine piece of architecture itself. And a huge playground for its art students, researchers, artists-in-residence and exhibitions.
Sylvain Lizon, directeur de la Villa Arson depuis janvier 2019.
Vue in situ de "Construire sa prétendue", l'exposition des diplômé.e.s 2020.
Il y a plus de 20 ans, COTE Magazine organisait déjà ses grandes fêtes estivales à la Villa Arson, avant d’y valoriser les architectes azuréens. Un site marquant par son architecture vernaculaire.
Architect Michel Marot had been somewhat forgotten, but lately his work has attracted more attention. Including Villa Arson, perched atop the Saint-Barthélemy hill in Nice. When it opened in 1972 it was a disruptive presence with its strong horizontal emphasis, its pebble-faced walls, its labyrinth of corridors and its partisan teaching approach (no individual studios). “The Villa is monumental yet intimate, a kind of autobiographical work echoing Michel Marot’s background. He used to love getting lost in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Having stayed at Villa Médicis with its gardens, he surrounded Villa Arson with pine and cypress trees. He imagined all the Villa’s functions fitting together smoothly,” says its director Sylvain Lizon. Today, the Villa is a national art school, a national contemporary art centre, an artists’ residence and a specialist media library. The quality of their surroundings has an impact on the scope the students allow themselves and the ambitious aims of their projects. But Sylvain Lizon does not want the Villa and its grounds to be their be-all and end-all. “We have to let fresh air in. The idea that an artist should work alone from his inner resources is outdated. Students need to connect with the world outside, social issues, sustainable development. The Villa today is also a place where people work together.”
By Tanja Stojanov