|pictures courtesy of Experiences à la Villa |
des Cent Regards, Facebook (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.
The Villa was created by Victor Grazzi (1896-1970), who was born in the Lombardian area in Italy.
In 1921 he married Ida Boldoni and a year later the couple fled from the fascist regime to France, where they first lived 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. For the construction of the building, Grazzi mainly used concrete, not only for the structure, but also for the doors, the shutters and the cladding of the floors.
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.
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 center
A new development, however, took place. Since 2005 the site is cared for by Michel Fressoz, the owner of a neighbouring art gallery Saint-Côme. The idea was to run the Villa aux cent regards as an art center, where expositions are held and cultural meetings and conferences are organised.
That was a good solution! For some ten years the Villa has been active as a cultural center, with a variety of activities. When those cultural activities were terminated, the Villa was left unused and in August 2017 it was completely looted.
But a new initiative was launched to continue the Villa as a center of cultural activities
Now managed by the association Villa des cent Regards, which from around 2020 once more carried out a renovation, the Villa reopened on the weekend of 1 and 2 October 2022 with a special program. The association aims to turn the site into a meeting place dedicated to culture, with artist exhibitions and conferences. See their website, included in the documentation below.
Documentation and more pictures
* Website of the Villa during the first ten years as cultural centre
* Website about the Villa as managed from 2020* Report by Michel Fressoz, La villa des cents regards, in weblog les grigris de Sophie,
October 2011 (translation into english on OEE-texts)
* Weblog impasse des pas perdus (November 2006)
* Article on French website petit patrimoine (May 2007)
first published April 2009, last revised September 2022
La villa des cent regards
1000 rue de la Roqueturière
Montpellier, dept Hérault, region Occitanie, France