We quietly slipped into the Saint-Lazare Priory, immersing ourselves in its history and its uniqueness. We tried to capture its essence, from its monastic simplicity to its prison austerity via the wisdom and philosophy of those who built and lived here. Then we had to fine-tune our approach, to give life to a contemporary vision that would respect and preserve the spirit of the building. We didn’t want the visitor to forget where they were. On the contrary, we wanted to assure an intimate experience of the site, allowing the visitor to appropriate fragments of the past in comfort. Achieving this also meant rising to the challenge of the constraints imposed by the building’s classification as an historic monument, notably that we were not permitted to touch the ceilings and the walls. The best approach was to find a way to turn these constraints into opportunities.
With the help of clever furniture and innovative ‘microarchitecture’*, in natural materials chosen for their quality, we were able to address the thermal and acoustic issues in the refectory and the chapel, and the lack of natural light in the chapter house. Guided by the simple honesty of the priory building, which avoids unnecessary stylistic effects, we stayed true to our own signature style: simple and elegant shapes determined by their use and requirements; a refined, fluid and sensual atmosphere that works in harmony with the high-ceilinged spaces and age-old walls.
What we wanted for Fontevraud was not the classic hotel and restaurant experience, but something unique. A journey between tradition and modernity that reinterprets the story of Saint-Lazare for the future, marrying emotion, sensual pleasure and poetry.
Patrick Jouin et Sanjit Manku
The project to reopen a hotel and restaurant in the Saint-Lazare priory goes beyond its physical appearance, regardless of its magnificence. With careful planning, this hotel endeavor is a part of the grander vision for the 'Contemporary City of Fontevraud.' It fully incorporates various elements, from cultural vibrancy to sustainability, digital innovation to warm hospitality. David Martin, Director General of the Abbey, highlights, "While establishing a 4-star hotel and a haute cuisine restaurant ensures comfort and service, the goal wasn't solely to enhance the region's hotel offerings."
The project's significance extends much further. Capturing the essence of the location, it seeks meaning and evokes emotions. An ambitious aspiration, akin to a dream! A vision that matches the captivating beauty of the abbey and its millennium of history.
Interior architecture and design
|Région Pays de la Loire et Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud
|Patrick Jouin iD