Aiguille Rouge, by Pete Caswell. Click on the painting to visit his site

Saturday, 19 November 2011

LES ARCS IN PICTURES: The Architecture

Les Arcs comes in for some criticism, at least from British visitors.  There was, however, a very clear plan:

*  To build something which fitted into the scenery, particularly when you are above the resort (contrast the scene below with what you see from the Funiplagne above Plagne Centre....)
*  To become a viable rival to some of the other, more established resorts.  This meant attracting the "middle market" of people who were (at the time) not taking ski holidays
*  To build a "station integree", with everything close at hand, away from cars etc
*  To make use of the latest building techniques, and (at the time) some of the latest latest architectural thinking

The resort's founder, Robert Blanc, was supported in his mission by two of France's leading architects, Charlotte Perriand and Bernard Taillefer, who loved the mountains, and who led the design of Arc 1600 (Perriand) and 1800 (where Taillefer designed the buildings and Perriand the interiors).  More on Charlotte Perriand here.  If you are familiar with the Edenarc development, you may also enjoy a snoop at Charlotte's original design for the Chantel site.   Finally, there is a useful section on the Les Arcs website here.

There are a series of phases to modern-day Les Arcs: 1968 (Arc 1600), 1974 (Arc 1800), 1979 (Arc 2000), 2003 (Arc 1950).  Below is a shot of Arc 1800 in the summer.

Perriand and Taillefer were not involved in Tignes, by the way.  Here is Val Claret:

Here is one of the most celebrated blocks in 1600, with views back up the Tarentaise:

Also at 1600 are these smaller apartments, just beside the Cachette lift:

The main "historic" blocks at 1800 are Belles Challes (below), Lauzieres and Pierra Menta.  The latter two are (in the main) studios of 30m squared, and sleep 5 (at a push). Belles Challes is a little more modest.

If you are keen, you can take a "historic walk" around the Charvet area of 1800 - to learn more.  Apparently it is now part of the Patrimonie du XXc.

The blocks in 1800 are large, but cut into the hill.  Charlotte Perriand was keen that they were not overlooked by other blocks, so that, from the kitchen, you could look out at the mountain landscape.  Below: Pierra Menta, with Mont Blanc straight ahead and the Arc 1800 ecole on the right.

In the summer, or indeed in winter if you are an off-piste skier, you can compare all this 
with what has been here for centuries - the sanctuary of Notre-Dame des Vernettes
in the Nancroix valley.  This is accessible from the Combe run above Peisey.

The interiors of the Les Arcs projet are worth a look - but this is probably 
enough for one day!

Click here for The Architecture: Part 2


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