This holiday residence has strong classical influences. It is located in Chens-sur-Léman, a small French village in Haute-Savoie, on the border with the canton of Geneva, Switzerland. Here Lake Geneva forms a half-moon at the centre of an enchanted landscape that is dominated by the majestic heights of the Alps.
The villa, an expression of the wealth and good taste of its owner, a prominent Qatari businessman, fits perfectly into this context. It functions as the owner's headquarters, but it is also serves as retreat, a place to have fun and to take a break from the demands of city life.
The building's square footprint is inspired by the classical Roman tradition. Each façade looks out in symmetrical fashion onto four cleverly designed gardens. Large glazed windows allow light to flood into the interior. This creates a continuity with the outdoor spaces that is emphasised by the raised ground floor. The swimming pool and annexe offer thechance for residents to enjoy the summer – and the refreshing presence of the lake.
In the outdoor spaces the classical tradition has been interpreted in a way that is concise and simple, but always elegant. The large glazed arches, along with the columns supporting the pediments and patios, create a sense of freshness and lightness. This allows a connection with the striking natural environment while also serving as an introduction to the vibrant indoor spaces.
At the point where the axial lines of the building intersect there is a large skylight, illuminating the monumental staircase that is the spinal chord of the house. A pleasingly diffuse light from above pervades the landing leading to the bedrooms. It lends charm to the communal spaces on the first floor, which are warmed in winter by an imposing fireplace dressed in wood and decorated with gold and marble. Other wooden elements include the panelling, the doors, the inlaid furniture and the timber arches and pediments – all of which speak to the rarefied Alpine character of the home. These aspects are softened by floral fabrics and wallpapers in shades of blue – a decorative scheme well suited to the house’s function as a place of leisure. But there is an all-encompassing sense of high-end luxury – which is evinced in details such as the precious inlaid marble floors, the stucco ceilings, and the crystal chandeliers.