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The Villa Benkemoun : The solar harmony of the seventies

4 km away from the center of Arles there is a surprising white house with curves, ellipses and openings. Situated in a one hectare estate, this haven of peace, which for a long time remained private, has finally opened to the public since it has been restored. The Heritage Days will be an opportunity to visit the iconic Villa Benkemoun, whose open layout and harmony with nature invite you to a never-ending summer.

Vue extérieure de la villa Benkemoun

A true architectural manifesto of the 70s, the villa was born from the dream of Simone and Pierre Benkemoun who, having arrived from Oran, settled in Arles in 1962 to rebuild their lives. Ten years later, through hard work, the young modest couple finally had the means to build a house and entrusted the project to their architect friend Émile Sala. Influenced by Le Corbusier’s style, he broke with the classic codes of the Provencal house, adapting the building to the lifestyle desired by its occupants, who wanted a joyful, bright and open place to welcome family and friends. Émile Sala thus creates fluid spaces with soft lines, and he integrates interfaces (roof terraces or patios) that create an uninterrupted dialogue between exterior and interior, alternating privileged views of nature and facades, and playing on the effects of light and shadow throughout the day. With its avant-garde style, the villa nevertheless respects the local tradition: back facing north to protect itself from the Mistral wind, and a circular tower reminiscent of the dovecotes of Provence. The architect brought in decorator Robert Heams for the interior design, designer Max Sauze for the sculptural sheet metal fireplace mantel, and ceramist Guy Bareff for the floors.

Three years ago, the daughter of the owners, the journalist Brigitte Benkemoun, undertook the restoration of the house, assisted by Thierry Demaizière. This long work is crowned with success since the villa obtained in 2015 the label “Heritage of the 20th century” from the Ministry of Culture. To bring its remarkable architecture to life, Villa Benkemoun today welcomes artists, meetings and exhibitions, in keeping with the spirit of hospitality and openness of its founders, and actively participates in the cultural effervescence of Arles.

Contact :

Villa Benkemoun, 915, chemin de la Batelle, 13200 Arles