Villa Brasilia – An architectural masterpiece at the French peninsula Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

29 April, 2021

Among many famous luxurious villas of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat stands the Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer’s masterpiece, his only European villa named Brasilia. Best known for transforming the swampy terrain of the Brazilian forest into Brasilia, a futuristic city that became Brazil’s capital in 1960, this man is considered to be one of the key figures in the development of modern architecture.

After visiting the just-finished city, Giorgio Mondadori in complete fascination commissions Niemeyer with the design of his publishing house in Milan. Rumour has it that in 1967 the Italian magnate asks Niemeyer at a friendly lunch to draw him a beautiful villa for his newly purchased piece of land in Cap-Ferrat. The maestro sketches on the corner of the table a concrete house with curved “feminine” lines, and even adds “In homage to your wife”, as the rumors go.

The two interlocking buildings, the rectilinear one slightly curved in the north-south axis and the rounded one in the east-west axis are resembling the famous Casa das Canoas, which Niemeyer designed in 1951 as his family home.

The east and south facades of the building are fully open to the garden and the sea, via a huge 22-meter bay window. The harmonious garden with its tropical species accommodate monumental contemporary sculptures on the lawn and a stream of water runs through the meadow meanders to the kidney-shaped swimming pool. The blue and white tiles of the pool house were designed by the master ceramist Athos Bulcão. The cylindrical dining room is intentionally buried under garden level to privilege the savors of the cuisine.

Fortunately, this architectural masterpiece preserves the spirit of Niemeyer’s hand up to the present day despite ownership changes and numerous transformations of the past decades.

Source: Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat par Pierre Dévoluy et Jean-Jaques Pangrazi;  PSS / Villa Brasilia (Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France) (pss-archi.eu)