Chalet la volière


It’s one thing to design a complex project. It’s another to take three technically identical chalets and give each a distinct style. Christophe Tollemer pulled it off like a master vintner, blending the best nectars of several vineyards into a perfect wine.

Starting with an identical exterior and frame, Christophe Tollemer brought to life three very different homes. Each has its unique spirit, yet all bear the hallmarks of Tollemer design. Like a blank canvas in the hands of an able painter, the subject might depict various times of day (like Monet) or of life (like Rothko)… yet the master’s style always shines through.

At La Volière, it’s not immediately obvious that the starting point was almost identical. That from a single clay, the sculptor fashioned three different bronzes. The furnishings in the Bastidons chalet range from antiques, like the Louis XV sitting chairs in the living room, to revisited heirloom-style furniture like the Louis XIII chairs in the dining room. This cultural back-and-forth is dear to Tollemer’s heart, and takes on a whole new look in the Cryst’Aile chalet, with more contemporary furniture and designer lighting. In the third chalet, Nanuq, the decoration creates another atmosphere altogether, without losing that Tollemer touch. By capitalizing on each room’s unique lighting and mountain views, the architect creates a world apart.

Three stylistic expressions and one over-arching style. Three chalets, three years of work employing over 70 trades and 40 original furniture designs. Almost 2,000 square meters, and no fewer than 13 rooms. Although dizzying, the numbers alone don’t convey Christophe Tollemer’s painstaking attention to the smallest details of this colossal project.

For example, smitten with a mosaic sample mounted on plexiglas, Tollemer tiled an entire wall of the spa with the underside pattern of the original mosaic. But that pales in comparison with the railing, a monumental 17-metre masterpiece of stylized foliage that makes the staircase fairly shimmer with personality. The dynamic, angular branches in solid bronze-gilt steel were hand-crafted by Pouenat Ferronnier. They are linked with brass vines topped with porcelain birds by Coquet, a dimmable sparrow, cardinal, and owl that make the stairway come alive. The work of art is a nod to the property name (meaning aviary) and to the forest that once stood there. The owners gave Christophe Tollemer free creative rein with one common theme: that the home should blend into its environment. Around one hundred trees were replanted on the property. They look like they were always there, like the chalets designed by Velghe-Michaux clad in recovered wood from old buildings. The timeworn look imparts the cachet of a real family home. Respect for tradition comes through as well in the lauze roof, locally quarried following ancient customs.

Final Achievement