Homes: Born and Reincarnated


San Pawl Tat-Targa




Finalised Nov 2014

The design for this striking villa came to life on the sloping landscape of Eveux-sur-Arbresle, near Lyon in France. The architect, Matthew, was sitting in one of the long, narrow cells in the Convent of La Tourette. He was surrounded by nature and immersed in a space that triggered focus.

MJMDA is a multi-disciplinary architecture firm that usually delivers buildings in a user-ready state. This villa was different. The interior design on the Elemental Sophistication project was being done by the client, Rachel Balzan Demajo. Together with her husband, Rachel wanted to be highly involved in the overall design of their family home.

Back in France, Matthew was inspired by the buildings he visited on an architectural pilgrimage in which he paid homage to one the masters, Le Corbusier. Matthew designed the villa to have seeds of modernism within the MJMDA design philosophy and a contemporary context.

Approaching the villa via a narrow country road, one is met by the villa’s stark exterior. Its bold, intersecting, white volumes stand out against the sky. Composed of clean, simple lines, the architecture is the perfect blank canvas for the creative and eclectic decorative touches inside.

The bottom of the façade is a ribbon pierced with peep-through windows that bring to mind the modernist Notre Dam du Haute – one of Le Corbusier’s works in Ronchamp. These apertures give a cheeky glimpse of the colourful interior, while the laser-cut steel shutters (one of Rachel’s customised touches) provide the family with a feeling of privacy.

The upper volume of the structure protrudes and floats above the front garden, while the lower part has telltale proportions inspired by a Villa Savoy. Moving up the porch, the lower volume takes on an even cleaner aesthetic. Only the soft blue front door pierces the structure, setting the tone for the house’s interior. A concrete skylight provides light to the basement and creates a visual curiosity for guests who are outside, waiting to be let in.

The exterior entertainment area is where the house comes to life. The back façade mirrors the front, but here, the upstairs level takes full advantage of the stunning view. Below, the barbecue and outdoor dining area are carpeted in turf and create a playful atmosphere. The spot is linked to the kitchen via a doorway, so the hosts can to and fro from the kitchen effortlessly.