April 14, 2009

Victor Grazzi, La villa des cent regards/The villa of a hundred views


pictures courtesy Eperiences à la Villa 
des Cent Regards FB sept 2012

This art environment with the poetic name the villa of a hundred views, located in Montpellier in the south of France, has a wonderful extended castle-like structure.

Life and works

The Villa was created by Victor Grazzi (1896-1970), who was born in the Lombardian area in Italy.

He married in 1921 and a year later he fled with his wife Ida from the fascist regime to France, where the couple first went to live in the Isère area, but soon moved to the city of Montpellier.

Grazzi had a job as a mason. He was a very enthusiastic supporter of the use of reinforced concrete as building material -at that time a pioneering method- and followed a correspondence course on this subject at an institute in Rome (the Academy of Reinforced Concrete)  

In 1950 he and his wife began constructing a house on a plot of land they had acquired in the Aiguelongue area, in the (then) outskirts of Montpellier.

Ida Grazzi sadly died in 1954. Victor Grazzi, now being alone, went on expanding the caste-like structure, a project he would continue for the rest of his life. The site was named the villa aux cent regards, as far as I understand because of the number of windows in the construction.

It is a complex of larger and smaller buildings made of concrete, with towers, arches, pathways, and depictions of persons and animals.

In his creative constructions Victor Grazzi could express his skill in working with reinforced concrete, for example by making circular and slender forms. He would also use recuperated materials collected on the junk yard.


After 1970

Victor Grazzi unexpectedly died in 1970 (he went to the hospital for some simple surgery, never to return).

His creation was left unattended to. The site became a place that was visited by people who where interested in it as a hide-out, like clochards and love-couples.

But there were also people, local and foreign, who were interested in the maintenance of the site as a creative construction..

In 1982 the local authorities, who meanwhile had become owners of the site, decided to protect it by placing a fence around. The city itself had no idea what to do with the site and began considering to demolish it.

The site has become an art centre

A new development, however, took place. Since 2005 the site is being cared for by Michel Fressoz, the owner of a neighbouring art gallery Saint-Côme. The idea is to run the Villa aux cent regards as an art centre, where expositions are held and cultural meetings and conferences are organised.

That is an excellent solution! Bravo for all those persons and local organisations who supported this approach.

Documentation and more pictures
* Website of the Villa
* Michel Fressoz, La villa des cents regards, report in weblog les grigris de Sophie, october 9, 2011 (in french, translation into english on OEE-texts)
* weblog impasse des pas perdus  (info in french, pictures).
* french website petit patrimoine.
* french website vacanceo (pictures)
* Facebook Community Page Experiences à la Villa des Cent Regards

first published april 2009, revised oct 2011 (I gladly acknowledge I could add factutal data to this revised text, thanks to Fressoz' article, referred to above), oct 2012, may 2013
Victor Grazzi
La villa des cent regards
1000 rue de la Roqueturière
Montpellier
visits on appointment:  cent.regards@gmail.com

3 comments:

  1. Hi Henk, you've done it again... digging up hidden treasures. I was in Montpellier two summers ago, but did not know about this place, so now there's something to look forward to on another trip. I think you must have an army of detectives working for you to find all these places ! Hope all is well with you in Holland. Any plans to travel to some of you sites on the horizon ? Best wishes, Owen

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  2. Hi Owen, reading comments on the internet about this site, even people who live naarby such a site admit they never ever visited it... Just driving by, noy going out of the car...

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  3. And do not forget to have a look on my recent post (april 5, 2009).

    http://animulavagula.hautetfort.com/archive/2009/04/05/claude-masse-chez-victor-grazzi.html

    Ani

    ReplyDelete