Perched on a serene hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean Ocean, the St. Tropez property is being revisioned into a cohesive development that reflects both its unique setting and modern vision of a country estate. The consolidated property dates from the 1970’s and is split into two separate properties by title on a single undivided plot of land that is approximately seven hectares. The property is primarily a wooded parkland with commanding views of the surrounding region and is located minutes away from the well-known Mediterranean resort town.
Upon first inspection, the property consisted of a main house that was built in the late 1960’s with subsequent extensions in the 70’s and 80’s, a guest house bordering an adjacent creek, a fairly derelict pavilion house for staff, a caretaker / estate manager’s house, a cinder block garage, unmaintained tennis court, and a helipad. The grounds were kept in natural form with no features our specific layout structure.
The design team’s first impressions were that the property needed to: 1) be visually unified through creating design standards for the property that focused on common color, material, and architectural palates, 2) take advantage of both the unique woodland setting and regional vernacular, 3) needed to be more experiential and not simple a single note, and 4) create a classic estate setting with modern conveniences and technology. Transforming the nondescript property into a monumental place will be a four year journey that began with the story boarding of the entrance experience, journey through the woodlands, first impressions, experience of place, and arriving at the villas.
The design team began by redefining the property by making the former exit to the property the new entry and creating a new one way linear experience. Visitors first arrives at a new gated entry on the far end of the property that offers the first glimpse inward. When the gates upon, the journey begins along a woodland drive with a sculptural focal point in the distance that draws the visitor inward. Upon passing the piece, a woodland meadow opens before you and offers long vistas into the woodlands with hints of the ponds and creeks in the distance. Moving forward you arrive at the renovated pavilion house with a new low stone wall and open gate that is reminiscent of a quaint French farm building. AS one rounds the building, a deep woodland presents itself for a moment before opening up upon a savannah on one side and the garage that has been redeveloped to be reminiscent of an abandoned countryside church now left as a ruin. Just past the ruin, the visitor arrives at the olive lined alley entry to the guest house. One can see through the understory to a large lemon orchard that serves to privatize the guest house and its various zones. Visitors may choose to turn up the guest house drive or continue on to the Villa through a colorful meadow that changes with the seasons. The woodlands then draw the visitor back in before their arrival at the new sunken parking area. Visitors leave their car behind and descend a natural planted stairway, before arriving at the Villa’s new modern motor court entryway. Upon being greeted and drink orders taken, they proceed to the back terrace where the magnificence of the estate is revealed. A great lawn anchored by a new edgeless pool and dining and entertainment pavilions present themselves. Framing the vista of the Mediterranean and the passing yachts are two giant ancient olive trees that provide filtered shade and define the area. Visitors may be directed to one of the pavilions or to the night club located below the terrace. This initial client approved concept directs a great deal of the area’s redevelopment.
Additional elements on the property include: the renovation of the existing tennis court, addition of a beach volleyball court, a two hundred plus tree lemon orchard, a summer kitchen, staff facilities, terraces, kitchen gardens, a Moroccan inspired outdoor theater, transformation of a seasonal drainage way into a series of ponds and creeks, a “sculpture garden” woodlands, as well as a range of specialty gardens.
The first phase of development has focused on the redevelopment of the entry to the property, the south side of the Villa including the pool and pavilion area, as well as selected enhancements of various areas around the property.
St. Tropez Estate | St. Tropez, France | DR+A and SGI
Design firms | DR+A – David Robbins + Associates
Credits for images and text | David Robbins