An order of the Prefect of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, passed on 17 July 2009, registered the Domaine des Treilles on the Historical Monuments Additional Registry. Here are a few extracts from the historical file which contributed to this decision being taken.
For both the renovation and construction of the buildings meant to house the future guests of the Fondation des Treilles, in a manner that respected the old Provençal architectural style and the environment, Anne Gruner Schlumberger called upon Pierre Barbe (1900-2004). He was a major actor in the modern architecture movement, and most notably created the Jean Lambaste hotel in Paris (H.M.A.R. 1984). She also called upon landscape designer Henri Fisch – creator, with José Luis Sert, of the gardens of the Fondation Maeght.
Whilst favouring “a refined execution fitting modern needs”, the Treilles program, under the influence of Georges-Henri Riviera’s ideas, also relies on the enhancement of rustic materials and local know-how and on the design plans tailored to a specific use. Pierre Barbe therefore responded by using a very sober type of architecture, excluding all kinds of demonstrative design. This discretion is applied according to the owner’s refined tastes and the institution’s purpose, meant to inspire and promote intellectual focus, inspiration, and guests’ creativity.
The Domaine’s architecture presents a summary of modern functionalism (purity and simpleness of lines and shapes, intelligent use of means at its disposal, interchangeable spaces), from region specific syntax to erudite and eclectic references and antique (patio’s theme, recycling of old Roman ruins) or classical (gallery recurrence, topiary art in the gardens) architecture. The great quality of the second works is reflected in the attention given to the finish, to the placement of furniture and to the different types of lighting, as well as a constant technical prowess.
Modelled on the renewal of traditional agricultural methods, the landscape designed by Henri Fisch is laid out on three successive levels, from the house adjoining gardens which open up on the agricultural land, and then on the panoramic perspectives of the horizon. The domesticated Mediterranean nature, preserving a certain type of landscape reset and idealised by Henri Fisch serves as an encasing both to Pierre Barbe’s architecture and to the sculptures and contemporary installations set around the gardens. By structuring the area, the works of art designed by Takis, Ernst or Lalanne, and placed by the founder or the artists themselves, strongly contribute to the construction of the close landscape.
The result of a collective effort which narrowly associates the owner, the architect and the landscape designer Henri Fisch, the Domaine des Treilles is a comprehensive entity which drives its historical, artistic and architectural value from the fusion of three inseparable elements: architecture and interior design, the landscape environment et the collection of works of art.
Therefore, the entity’s undeniable quality, preserved in its original state and for its original function, the exceptional nature of the site, « microcosm, of an astonishing variety, in a whole where all is unity » (Anne Gruner Schlumberger) together with the strong interaction between the natural environment and the landscape design, architecture and works of art justifies its protection as a historical monument.