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Organic Architecture on the Côte d’Azur: A Jacques Couëlle Villa with a New Kitchen Extension

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Organic Architecture on the Côte d’Azur: A Jacques Couëlle Villa with a New Kitchen Extension

June 12, 2023

Antiquarian, draftsman, and self-taught architect Jacques Couëlle, 1902-1996, built a number of astonishing houses on the French Riviera. Made of carved concrete, they’re defined by their fluid lines and close-to-nature interiors—in Couëlle’s day, a critic haughtily, if accurately, labeled them “improved caves.”

Needless to say, Couëlle dwellings are hot tickets these days. A villa that caught our eye is part of a Couëlle enclave in Castellaras, about 20 minutes north of Cannes. It surrounds the 1927 Château de Castellaras, which, Couëlle, at the time a 26-year-old specialist in medieval relics and an emerging designer, built out of old parts for an American businessman.

Three decades later, Couëlle designed Castellaras Le Vieux, the enclave of 82 village houses that surround the castle, which is now a wedding and event space. These dwellings are Provençal in style as interpreted by Couëlle, no two alike. The owner of this one, an English-Swedish couple based in the UK, loved the fact that it’s well preserved and hired local architect Sabine Bell of Bell Architecture and British interior designer/stylist Lauren Jennings of Lauren Olivia Design to make it 21st century functional. Come take a look at the key rooms they tackled, new kitchen extension included.

Photography by Sarah Button, courtesy of Lauren Olivia Design.

couëlle was a practitioner of the antoni gaudí school of organic arch 17
Above: Couëlle was a practitioner of the Antoni Gaudí school of organic architecture and a friend of Picasso’s and Dalí’s. He specialized in what he called “natural structures”—as typified by the villa’s salon, which has the feel of a charming toadstool scaled for living.
the built in banquettes and inset stain glass are original. 18
Above: The built-in banquettes and inset stain glass are original.
couëlle positioned the windows in each of the castellaras houses to frame  19
Above: Couëlle positioned the windows in each of the Castellaras houses to frame the mountains or sea—and avoid views of the neighboring villas. Lauren Jennings helped the new owners furnish the room. To give the banquette a “more neutral, relaxed feel,” she wrapped the cushions in a woven linen throw: see Save the Sofa: 5 Easy, Good-Looking Ways to Protect the Favorite Seat in the House.
an additional place to lounge is one step up from the living room. it can be cu 20
Above: An additional place to lounge is one step up from the living room. It can be curtained off and used as a guest room.
an archway leads into the new kitchen, which doubled the space of the original  21
Above: An archway leads into the new kitchen, which doubled the space of the original (Jennings describes the existing kitchen as a “nothing special—small and squished” and a 1972 New York Times article about Castellaras quips that Couëlle’s kitchens are “built for people who are expected to eat most of their meals out.”)

The extension was designed and project managed by architect Sabine Bell and fitted by Jennings, who is the senior designer of her family’s kitchen company, Closa, of Tetbury, England. The living room’s slate floor continues in the kitchen.

the kitchen has closa&#8\2\17;s suffolk cabinets, designed and fabricated i 22
Above: The kitchen has Closa’s Suffolk cabinets, designed and fabricated in the Cotswolds. They’re hand-painted in a shade called Cornice from Mylands and have Armac Martin Latchford Cabinet Knobs and Cotswold Drawer Pulls.
the counter is local limestone and the brass faucet is barber wilsons&#8\2\ 23
Above: The counter is local limestone and the brass faucet is Barber Wilsons’s Regent China Lever 1030, 1890’s Style. the counter is local limestone and the brass faucet is barber wilsons&#8\2\ 24Above: Double glazed doors open to the front courtyard.
the range, a lacanche cluny classic, has an induction cooktop. 25
Above: The range, a Lacanche Cluny Classic, has an induction cooktop.
the range hood is modeled after couëlle originals: &#8\2\20;a few of t 26
Above: The range hood is modeled after Couëlle originals: “A few of the villas have this style of hood built into the wall and plastered,” says Jennings. The antiqued brass Club Wall Lights are from Jim Lawrence.
the downstairs wc has its original tiles and marble shelf. jennings introduced  27
Above: The downstairs WC has its original tiles and marble shelf. Jennings introduced a painted antique sideboard as a vanity mounted with a stone basin.
most meals are eaten outdoors. 28
Above: Most meals are eaten outdoors.

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Frequently asked questions

Who is Jacques Couelle?

Jacques Couelle is a renowned French architect known for his distinctive and innovative designs.

Where is the South of France villa located?

The South of France villa is located in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in France.

What is the style of the villa's kitchen extension?

The kitchen extension of the villa is designed in a modern and contemporary style.

Is the kitchen extension a new addition to the villa?

Yes, the kitchen extension is a recently added feature to the villa.

What are the notable features of the villa's kitchen extension?

The kitchen extension boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, which offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. It also features high-end appliances and a spacious layout for comfortable cooking and entertaining.

Are there any outdoor spaces connected to the kitchen extension?

Yes, the kitchen extension opens up to a large terrace and outdoor dining area, providing seamless indoor-outdoor living.

How does the kitchen extension blend with the original villa architecture?

The kitchen extension is designed to complement the original villa architecture, seamlessly integrating modern elements while respecting the traditional charm of the property.

Can visitors access the villa for tours or stays?

Unfortunately, it is not specified in the article whether the villa is open for tours or stays. It is recommended to contact the villa owner or management for more information.

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