Maison Bernard – Théoule-sur-Mer, France - Atlas Obscura
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Théoule-sur-Mer, France

Maison Bernard

One architect's organic, human-centric design has been fully realized in this alien art house. 

Reopened to the public in 2016 after an extensive five-year renovation, the Maison Bernard looks less like a house and more like a dry-docked submarine from a retro-future film.

The port-hole lined walls and tube-like hallways bring to mind a human-scaled ant farm—albeit one with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea—while the vividly orange-colored undulating outer structure of the house contrasts jarringly with surrounding hilly landscape.

Built in 1971 for a French industrialist who would give his name to the maison, this house was the first design of Hungarian-born architect Antti Lovag to be constructed. The exceedingly organic form of the house is a result more of process than of intention. Lovag conceived the concept for the house by first framing dramatic views for each of the main rooms with an iron re-bar network; the views dictated the placement of the each room and the connective walkways were built around those rooms by casting a layer of concrete over his metal template.

Lovag’s unique vision of architecture was apparent in the approach he took to designing this structure and in his other completed buildings. He called himself a “habitologist” and thought of architecture as the “envelope that encompassed man’s needs.” According to many, this structure (of those most emblematic of Lovag’s achievements including Le Palais Bulles built for fashion designer Pierre Cardin) is the most perfectly completed, and thanks to the interior-focused renovations supervised by architect Odile Decq, it is more fully realized than ever.

In addition to public tours of the house, the Maison Bernard hosts an artist-in-residence to create original work to fit in with the house’s architecture and surrounding environment. Resulting works are shown in situ. The house is managed by Maison Bernard Endowment Fund.  The house is open by appointment every Tuesday from October through April. Group visits are limited to eight people.

Know Before You Go

Loads of restrictions are in place. Photographs and videos (from any device) are prohibited. Food and beverages are not allowed. Items like backpacks, umbrellas, etc. must be left in safekeeping (possibly the prior to the visit. Mobile phones should be placed in quiet mode. Animals are not allowed.The official website only cites the house's locations as:Maison BernardPort-la-Galère06590 Théoule-sur-Mer, FranceThe site's corresponding map does not point to the house, which is on Avenue de la Boussole. It only shows an unspecified location at the intersection of Avenue de la Côte d'Azur and Avenue de la Reale.