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Announcement
September 18, 2012

SCAD unveils revitalization of Lacoste’s historic Maison Basse

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
Exterior image of the Savannah College of Art and Design’s newly revitalized Maison Basse.

Formerly owned by the Marquis de Sade, this historic Provençal farm is now a center for student life and learning.

La Maison Basse, located in Provence’s Luberon Valley between the villages of Lacoste and Bonnieux, has led many lives over the past eight centuries. Silkworm farm, farmhouse, inn, waylay for bear tamers and, perhaps most notoriously, carriage house-cum-gambling den of the infamous Marquis de Sade. Now, nearly 40 years after its final inhabitants abandoned the five-building, 28-room complex to the French elements, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has given La Maison Basse yet another life, this time as a center for the study of art, design, and architecture.

SCAD, an international art and design university with global locations in the U.S., France, and Hong Kong as well as an online eLearning program, is a recognized leader in adaptive reuse and historic revitalization. Since the university’s founding in 1978, SCAD has revitalized more than 100 buildings around the world, creating inspiring environments for artists and designers.

SCAD acquired La Maison Basse along with more than 30 other buildings in 2002 from the former Lacoste School of the Arts, founded in 1970 by American painter Bernard Pfriem. Since that time, SCAD has meticulously overseen the site’s entire preservation process, including researching, documenting, and photographing La Maison Basse. This preservation process is unique because it gives historians, architects, and sociologists a look into the evolution of a vernacular French country farmhouse and outbuildings that corresponded to a chateau as well as the surrounding region. While many 12th century remnants have been found, archaeologists and historic preservationists have dated the buildings from between the 16th and 18thcenturies.

Treasures unearthed and documented during the revitalization process include:

  • Decorative stones (entablature decorated from antiquity to the 12th century)
  • Remnants of an abandoned 12th-century chapel
  • Pottery
  • Unfinished low-relief carved head from a statue
  • Stones from lids of sarcophagi from the 12th century
  • Rare cannon ball from the 15th century

Significant architectural elements were documented and conserved as well, including:

  • The remains of a16th-century balcony, which now rest atop an interior doorway
  • An 18th-century limestone sink with its worn basin, now featured prominently in a lounge area
  • A large, dome-styled 18th-century oven where community members gathered to bake their bread, now transformed into a library reading room
  • A barn where the horses used to eat, now a dining hall
  • The loft where the hay was stored, now an expansive studio

With the revitalization now complete, the nearly 300 students who visit SCAD Lacoste each year will have the opportunity to live and learn in a one-of-a-kind space with room for studio classes, seminars, demonstrations, and housing. Classes offered at La Maison Basse will include architecture, art history, painting, historic preservation, landscape design, and photography, among others.

Internationally renowned visiting artists from around the world will also be invited to make use of La Maison Basse’s exceptional resources while working alongside SCAD students and faculty. French artist Mohamed Bourouissa will be the first to do so this fall. His solo exhibition, Le Miroir, debuts at the university’s Galerie Pfriem in the village of Lacoste on September 10. Bourouissa’s work seeks to deconstruct the frozen image of the suspect that “other” has always been. The exhibition is free and open to the public through November 23.

About SCAD Lacoste
SCAD’s residential study-abroad location in Lacoste, France, offers immersion in the rich culture of Provence. Within Lacoste’s ancient walls are facilities that date back to the medieval period, yet they feature a variety of modern amenities such as classrooms, studios, a library, computer labs, a dining hall, and housing for students, faculty and guests. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2012, SCAD Lacoste hosts a series of public programs and exhibitions for students and the local and regional communities. Among the highlights of the 10th anniversary year is the opening of La Maison Basse, exhibitions and workshops by acclaimed artists Kiki Smith and Valerie Hammond, a solo show by French artist Mohamed Bourouissa, and the fifth annual Sidewalk Arts Festival in the village of Lacoste.

About SCAD
The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution conferring bachelor’s and master’s degrees at distinctive locations and online to prepare talented students for professional careers. SCAD offers degrees in more than 40 areas of study, as well as minors in nearly 60 disciplines in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia; in Hong Kong; in Lacoste, France; and online through SCAD eLearning.
For more information, visit www.scad.edu.

Media contacts:
Elizabeth Reina-Longoria, or Deirdre Maher, Blue Medium
T +1 212 675 1800 / [email protected], [email protected]
Sunny Nelson, SCAD
T +1 912 525 5225 / [email protected]

 

 

 

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