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France, Cannes, Mariposa

Flat(S) (20th Century)

Site Name France, Cannes, Mariposa

Classification Flat(S) (20th Century)

Canmore ID 284921

Site Number NON-UK 25

Datum WGS84 - Lat/Long


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Administrative Areas

  • Council Not Applicable
  • Parish Not Applicable
  • Former Region Not Applicable
  • Former District Not Applicable
  • Former County Not Applicable

Sir Basil Spence

Building Notes

In 1973 Gabriel Harrison commissioned Sir Basil Spence OM RA to design a residential development in Super Cannes, France. Anthony Blee was the partner responsible for the Project. Before work could begin, a late 19th-century, 21-bedroom building, Villa Mariposa, had to be demolished.

Spence's scheme consists of 18 luxury apartments and six studios set within 15,000 square metres of mature gardens. It is made up of two flat-roofed, three-storey buildings. These are connected by a large arch, which forms the roof of a covered passage known as 'the causeway'. The buildings are clad in beige stone and present a mass of solid but irregular blocks punctuated by overhanging balconies and broad terraces. The interior finishes include marble walls and floors, teak doors, and tapestries woven by Pinton Freres to designs by Milton Spence. One of the penthouses has its own swimming pool and there is a communal pool in the grounds.

The work was completed in 1975.

Archive Details

Photographs in the Sir Basil Spence Archive include a study of the original Villa Mariposa and its gardens. The Archive material illustrates that the rare and exotic trees were integral to the site and that a number of them were moved and replanted rather than destroyed.

The Archive also includes a letter that describes how the design for the scheme originated from a sketch done by Spence on a sick bag whilst flying home from his first site visit. Other correspondence in the Archive illustrates that Gabriel Harrison, who died before the project was completed, believed that the project would be a unique development for Cannes, especially in terms of its sculpted modernist architecture. He hoped that it would 'be considered the best apartment block ever to be built in France'.

Archive Summary

The Sir Basil Spence Archive contains five manuscript folders, 664 drawings and 339 photographs relating to Villa Mariposa. In addition to the correspondence, the manuscript material contains promotional and sales literature. The drawings cover most aspects of the design and include a range of alternative plans for the apartments. In addition to the original villa, the photographic material relates to the architectural model, the construction phase and the finished building.

This text was written as one of the outputs of the Sir Basil Spence Archive Project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, 2005-08.


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