de Planta Architectes is rehabilitating an early 17th century monastery into a 5-star hotel
The Geneva office, and in particular Bouygues Bâtiments Sud-Est, led the transformation under the slogan of high quality but also sustainability.
Located in the Mane (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence) region amidst an exceptional landscape, Le Couvent des Minimes was abandoned until its purchase in early 2000. Its new owner’s goal was: to transform this heritage building into a high-level hotel. This task, entrusted to the Geneva office of Planta et Associés Architectes, included several components: converting the monastery buildings into a luxury hotel, building an annex and a spa, as well as creating the interior decoration and exterior fittings. This work, combined with the skills of companies – including fulfillment company Bouygues Bâtiments Sud-Est – and local artisans, has given birth to a new destination positioned under the label of relaxation and comfort, but also sustainability.
Le Couvent des Minimes was built in 1613 and, before its resumption, presented various historical markers in its building: a classical structure meeting the monastic standards of the early 17th century.H 18th century (with church, cloister, cells, kitchen and dining hall), several redevelopments took place in the 18th centuryH last century by the founding Forbin Jansson family as well as various additions and plastering carried out over the past decades. All this was studied before the construction site by a team of experienced archaeologists who took the opportunity to uncover a magnificent 300-year-old fresco, representing the face of a smiling angel.
“From the beginning, the shared desire of the owner and Planta Architectes was to preserve the integrity of the place. We also wanted to achieve a sustainable transformation while taking into account the specifications imposed by Relais & Châteaux to create a 5-star hotel. “So all our work was thought out and executed with this in mind.” “The cells thus naturally regained their role as rooms overlooking the terraced gardens, while the church and the cloister were redeveloped into reception and rest spaces,” says project director Anthony Micoud, architect at De Planta Architectes.2 Useful surface areas have therefore undergone a real transformation. It now offers 34 rooms and suites (from 40 to 71 square metres).2) as well as two restaurants, including a gourmet restaurant, run by Louis Gachet, Meilleur Ouvrier de France.
If it is the fabric of the past that has guided the rehabilitation of the monastery, it is indeed a spirit resolutely oriented towards modernity that has overseen the creation of the extension and the 2,500 square meter spa.2 Including: 10 treatment rooms, a hammam, saunas, a cold bath and swimming pools, including a 25-metre outdoor bath. The architects also relied on landscape elements by designing flat green roofs and refined geometric shapes directly inspired by terraces. The structure of the spa, punctuated by a series of parallel walls, openings and viewpoints, allows the dialogue between inside and outside to be maintained, inviting nature throughout the visitor’s journey.
The interior decoration project, led by Planta Architectes, from start to finish, aimed to create a “home-like” hotel with a preference for the unique over the uniform. In this project, a great place was given to light, amplified by lemon, gold, ochre, light woods and terracotta tones characteristic of Provence. “We did not want to create a ‘fake old’ in a place full of history, but instead expand its spirit by establishing multiple collaborations with local creatives who work with different materials in the area,” says Alexandra Imbert, interior designer at De Planta. Architects.
“Whatever the project, we are always committed to working according to sustainable construction principles. “We integrate it into every stage of our thinking and apply it concretely on the ground,” says François de Planta, architect and partner at de Planta Architectes. In the context of the Couvent des Minimes, this is reflected in the choice of local materials, energy efficiency – in particular the strengthening of the thermal envelope, the creation of a sustainable spa and the installation of deep geothermal sensors to produce heat – but also in water management. Therefore, the team preferred to create dry gardens decorated with more than 11,000 new plants that require little irrigation so as not to deplete a resource that is rarely present in the region. François de Planta concludes: “The sum of all these measures will enable this new 5-star hotel and resort to obtain the Mediterranean Sustainable Construction label. Another quality that adds to its beauty. The Couvent des Minimes – Hôtel & SPA L’Occitane – is one of the finest achievements The office and we are very proud of it.