January 17, 2023

Want to hide out in the Alps? Meet the spirit of Charlotte Perriand in the hotel La Cachette, restructured and renovated by the Patriarche agency.

Somewhere between mythical and cult, this establishment - designed by Charlotte Perriand and built by architects Alain Taves and Robert Rebutato in the 1970s with a panoramic view of the Tarentaise mountain ranges as a backdrop - recently got a makeover. Acquired by the Friendly Hotel group, this must-see address in Les Arcs 1600 has been redesigned without being altered by the famous Patriarche agency. But it is still Fabienne Burdin, scenographer and project manager in narrative design, Constance Schmidt, interior designer, and Bernard Maillet, architect and director of the agency, who speak best of it!


A little general history?

The hotel La Cachette is located in the heart of Les Arcs 1600, a ski resort built between 1968 and 1972, designed by a group of architects, the AAM (Atelier d'architecture en montagne), including Bernard Taillefer, Alain Taves, Robert Rebutato, Pierre Faucheux ... under the direction and control of Charlotte Perriand. "La Cascade" is emblematic of the resort. Under the impetus of Charlotte Perriand, the building slopes to offer facades, on one side very sunny and open to the landscape, and on the other, overhanging above the entrances, thus protecting pedestrians. The architects used this "bioclimatic" concept of section to design the Hotel de la Cachette, open on one side to the snow-covered mountains and on the other side to the valley.


How does one approach such a monument? Implicitly Charlotte Perriand!

We did a first reading of Charlotte Perriand's work while being interested in what defined her posture and her architectural writing: both marked by a strong attention to the accuracy and relevance of a detail, to its materiality and its adequacy with what surrounds it. The project consisted in designing a universe where one of the directions was to interpret the heritage of Charlotte Perriand... This by proposing a "fair" design, turned towards use and comfort, while composing a coherent interior architecture project. But also to affirm the strong identity and values of the hotel.


Do we need to detach ourselves from it in order to move forward and propose "our" own vision or do we need to be part of a continuity?

Our first intention was to continue to make Charlotte Perriand's architectural and spatial writing exist, by highlighting what makes her identity: the framing of the views towards the great landscape, as well as the relationship between the interior space and the user who inhabits it. Also, to prolong certain legacies that disappeared during previous modifications, cult pieces by Charlotte Perriand, either found or re-edited, once again punctuate the spaces. The guideline was also to bring nature into the spaces. As an invitation to the landscape to unfold from floor to floor (and different in each season), the interior and exterior echo each other. Thus the user walks through an interior landscape...


How can such a building be preserved without being disfigured or deformed by the current standards?

The 1970's building needed to meet today's thermal and acoustic comfort standards, while maintaining its iconic architecture. The damaged elements were therefore replaced to meet the new standards. To unify and modernize the original woodwork mixed with the structures added during the transformations made by the various operators, all the woodwork was repainted in grey brown. As far as acoustics are concerned, natural wood fiber covers the ceilings.


Did it need an "aesthetic" or more contemporary upgrade?

The contemporary vision desired in our work is close to the architectural identity of Charlotte Perriand, already very contemporary. The current context encourages a reconnection with nature, to be as close as possible to the environment. The spatial approach had to respond to this research. A work on the transparency of the interior spaces and the framing facing this exceptional panorama of the Vanoise massif was a natural choice. Simple, warm and local materials were also essential: spruce for the layout, Arpin wool fabrics (Savoie) for the curtains and cushions in the bedrooms, a 100% natural covering made of compressed hay and alpine flowers (Super Organic Oberflex) for the closets. Finally, many elements of furniture and decoration come from the Selency platform, a specialist in vintage antique furniture, in the spirit of Charlotte Perriand's heritage.


What are your contributions, your signature?

A 1960s hotel did not have the level of comfort expected today: narrow bathrooms, unwelcoming materials. The architectural project focused on composing an attractive lobby, a real meeting place for guests and mountain professionals. And very important: to connect the restaurant to the hotel. It was very uncomfortable for the users to transit through the long and narrow gallery connecting the rooms and the restaurant. The positioning of a central space, linked to the outdoor terrace, becomes the center of gravity of the hotel complex, making the place very convivial. This space also acts as a transparent signal, visible from the Place du Soleil. As for the rooms, they have been brought up to date, offering a warm atmosphere, an accurate layout and a strong visual link with the landscape. The colors of the carpets with vaporous patterns recall the sky or the blur of a landscape, the colors of the alcoves are inspired by nature, a swivel lamp designed by Charlotte Perriand is placed on the desk, and a bench at window sill height offers a place to read or contemplate the mountain.


Luxury & Mountain special edition

December 1, 2022