Renovation of the Villa Baulieu
Lafourcade Architecture converts an ancient Roman villa into a five-star family residence near Aix-en-Provence.
Villa Baulieu is located in the crater of Provence's only volcano. The last eruption dates back to 1909; it destroyed half of Rognes, but the villa was miraculously spared. The soil is black (basalt). The fertile soil and the availability of water explain the presence of the Romans in 14 AD or thereabouts. Archaeological excavations led to the discovery of an altar consecrated to the goddess of the spring, while numerous statues and sarcophagi offer further evidence of a large Roman villa used for agricultural purposes. Vines were already cultivated at that time.
The three underground aqueducts, two of which still provide water for the Mediterranean gardens, fountains and ponds, also date from this period.
The challenge was to bring this jewel of rural Provençal architecture back to life.
The current building dates from the 17th century. The Provençal garden, designed in the 17th century, brings a symmetrical feel to the outside space with its labyrinths of trimmed boxwood, and extends the northern and eastern façades. In the 18th century, the gardens were largely restructured. In the 19th century, four octagonal towers were added to the bastide. These adornments diluted its "Italianate villa" character and made it look more like a château.
To restore the symmetry of the façades, Lafourcade Architecture and the owners decided to install some new windows on the first floor, where window-frames already existed on the outside. This allowed the light to flood in. On the ground floor, a 17th-century aesthetic was chosen for the interior design. The first floor showcases 18th-century design.
In the main drawing-room on the first floor, as well as in several other rooms, painted wooden beams and decorated ceilings were discovered under the plaster during the renovation work. In line with the clients' wishes, these will be reproduced on the ground floor ceilings. The sumptuously appointed interior of the château needs constant care.