LE PINE | SAOTA
Photo credit: Adam Letch
Project Name: Le Pine
Project Location: Saint Tropez, France
Lead Designers: SAOTA SAOTA Project Team (Phillippe Fouché, Stefan Antoni & Amé Venter
Architect of Record: Libre Architecture Concept-Local Architect (Thomas Paturle)
Structural Engineer: IBS
Contractor(only concrete): GUILLEC
Landscaping: Saint-Tropez Parcs et Jardins
Photographer: Adam Letch
Text: Graham Wood
This family summer house in Saint Tropez, France designed by SAOTA, is a contemporary interpretation of traditional Mediterranean Riviera architecture. Free from the constraints of the historical vernacular, the project became an opportunity to advance the expression of form, space, and lifestyle associated with the location.
The house is arranged between two rectilinear side wings that embrace a central courtyard. The bedrooms occupy all of one wing, plus the top level of the second, while the kitchen and dining areas are located downstairs. The main suite has a dedicated staircase that provides access from a double‐volume private lounge. The main living and entertainment areas are positioned in the central high‐volumed void between the wings, capped with a dramatically folded floating roof, which imparts a sense of grandeur to the interiors. The folded shape of the roof, formed using raw wooded planks in a subtle reference to the pines, not only echoes the cascading terraces of the landscape but also contrasts with the straight‐lined geometry of the wings on either side. Fouché adds that the fold in the roof plays a structural role too, enabling a 12‐meter span without any columns.
Positioning the house towards the back of the site created the opportunity for the living spaces to step down with the terraced landscape, seamlessly extending the useable space. SAOTA’s approach explored various strategies to maximise the perception of space, such as cavity doors to blur the distinction between interior and exterior spaces and allow the cool summer breezes to flow through the house.
The central pool, which cascades down an incline linking a martini seating area with the main swimming pool together with the clean lines of the side wings, accentuates the lines of perspective, exaggerating the length of the property, leading the eye to the horizon and further contributing to the illusion of space.
Along its eastern side, Le Pine riffs on the local architectural vernacular, which typically features thick walls and an emphatic distinction between interior and exterior. Where the entrance path ascends from the off‐street parking area below the house through floating platforms in the garden, the house presents an exaggeratedly weighty, solid façade with only small apertures. Not only does this create privacy for the rooms in this wing, but it also leads residents and guests on a journey of discovery towards the threshold. Fouché points out, however, that these heavy walls float above the ground in a contemporary interpretation of the traditional typology, hinting at the modern, open volume beyond the relatively understated entrance. Beyond the pivot door, the light‐infused living and entertainment space is revealed in a moment of drama and surprise.