Which was your first impression when you discovered the site ?
We felt in love with the site and the village of Marseillan. We stayed there several days to soak up the place, the architecture of the traditional village, the port, the “Etang”, the history of the oyster farmers and the daily life of the inhabitants, who were also very welcoming… Port Marseillan is a unique place overlooking the “Etang Thau” and the sea, in a preserved and authentic environment. We quickly imagined to focus the design as a world-class eco-tourism project. We have designed several eco-resort projects around the world: the vineyard resort & spa at Port Marseillan is probably the rarest of them for several objective reasons.
Which are your criteria when analyzing a Resort project ?
This is a combination of several key factors: In this case, the accesses (plane, motorway, TGV) are excellent. The “Etang Thau”, with its traditional villages, offers everything one could dream of on holiday in the South of France: unspoiled nature, superb beaches, activities for everyone (sailing, walks, visits to vineyards, etc.), and the restaurants. The land is connected to the old village and the port and at the same time offers a panoramic view of the “Etang Thau” and the sea. There is also an element that astonished us, the quality of natural light and its variations according to the season and the daily hour. Added to that the calm and natural balance that we perceived. All these factors motivated us to integrate the best design strategies to enhance the site and its surroundings.
We must not also forget Properties & Co, the developer seduced us both by his expertise, his vision of integrating the project into the territory and through his past achievements. An unique cocktail of ingredients.
How did you design the masterplan for the project ?
For the definition of a master plan, it is necessary to have a deep knowledge of the site, its natural and environmental conditions, urban planning and project program. With all this information we generate a concept that integrates architecture, landscape and lifestyle. At Port Marseillan, we’ve proposed human scale spaces that merge tradition and contemporary design to provide unique spaces with its own personality and environmental quality.
We imagined the project in two differentiated zones: at the entrance, the first zone has been conceived as an extension of the old village of Marseillan. We have revisited traditional winegrowers’ houses to accommodate apartments and also included commercial spaces for oyster producers, winegrowers, artists … The second zone has been designed as a large Mediterranean garden dotted with spacious villas and an hotel overlooking the sea. There are two types of villas: some are typically Mediterranean with large patios and roof terraces; the waterfront villas, offers magical sea views. A vineyard will be planted in the strip of 100 meters from the shore, as a sort of vineyard balcony facing the “Etang Thau”.
Is this project going to be working in autarky or is it going to be opened to the village ?
The project was imagined as a new district of the village of Marseillan. Authenticity cannot be decreed, it is built through times, people, activity. So, it’s imperative that the hotel surroundings remains as a calm and serene place, because this is what the guests are looking for. Even the spa and restaurants will be opened to Marseillan’s residents.
How did you design the landscape project ?
The landscape is a key element for a project like Port Marseillan. We integrated the whole design of the pavements, lighting, street furniture and gardening to ensure that it hasconsistency with the entire masterplan. The natural inspiration was there: the Mediterranean landscape, with its vineyards and olive groves as protagonists. We have worked exclusively from Mediterranean essences which do not require much water or maintenance. The aim of the landscape design is to fuse nature and architecture by creating unique spaces such as “La Place de Luc Marseillan” with its plane–trees and the traditional stone fountain. The aromatic gardens surrounding the paths between the Patio Villas, has been designed as natural spaceswhere to enjoy the aromas and colours, and also the presence of the ecological vineyard in waterfront of the “Etang Thau”, another magical project’s location that will connect us with the site and the Mediterranean.
How do you imagine the atmosphere at Port Marseillan ?
We are both in the nautical and chic atmosphere of the Port and in the unspoiled nature of the “Etang de Thau”. We were also influenced by the oyster farmhouses and by the authenticity of the South of France’s villages. We imagined traditional materials as raw wood and driftwood, the natural stone, the parquet used as on the decks of sailing boats, the white fabrics, differentaccessories inspired on sailing boats, the lime plaster… The atmosphere will be elegant and relaxed. Everything will be done to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the big cities, to feel on holiday by the water, like in a cabin at Arcachon’s bay.