Location being everything when it comes to the appeal of a property, this oceanside site on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius must be close to perfection. Originally it featured a small cottage: ‘random and run down’, says the interior designer owner / developer. What was subsequently built here extends past that original footprint on both sides.
Says architect Alistair Macbeth: ‘We are just 18 metres from the sea, as required by planning guidelines, but the build is a real pied dans l’eau (foot in the water) experience.’
The undercover measurement of the two villas is just over 500 square metres on a stand area of 1 657 square metres – this being the total footprint. The gross external area of each villa over three floors is 644 square metres, the pair totals 1 288 square metres.
Here the client was the designer and Dalais (owner / decorator) lived her dream. She explains: ‘After 33 years of work, all my energy, inspirations and wish list of items – both in terms of interior design and decoration – became a reality in the creation of my dream home. It was both an endearing and exciting project.
‘Designing for yourself is always a challenge; all barriers need to be broken. You have to think out of the box and use ideas that are unique to you and which you haven’t employed previously. This, although one has been working for years as a designer.’
The designer / owner was inspired by her travels from Shanghai to Paris. She adds: ‘I knew that I wanted a home that would reveal understated flair. It was to be unpretentious and the interior signature would entail a collection of both old and new, light and dark; a home that would not look brand new, but rather reveal soul and character. A sense of belonging to life in the tropics, a palette of soft colours: white tones, neutrals, with pops of jade green and aqua citrine; the result is eclectic, understated and yet chic, a magical mix of contemporary and organic.’
So were there any specific problems in executing this self-determined brief?
Virginie Dalais says: ‘Of course there was a budget issue, which obviously always manages to be broken. Tackling and executing this project in collaboration with Alistair Macbeth, the guru of architecture on the island, was a very interesting and exciting experience. We discussed every detail for more than two years and elaborating the design and build process, along with many challenges along the way, proved to be the lengthy solution to a successful project.’
Alistair Macbeth adds: ‘The limited depth of the site and the statutory building setbacks restricted the building footprint. Yet within it we had to fit the client’s spatial requirements for two residential properties.’
For the full article see Habitat #262 November / December 2017
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