SITTING ON the mountain’s edge above Luberon Valley, Gordes is touted as one of Southern France’s most beautiful ancient villages. The old buildings and a medieval castle are built of beige limestone that glistens orange under the Provençal sun. The vista from the village opens to the forested countryside, the rocky valleys and neighboring towns.
Its breathtaking views have lured many to take up residence here, such as this Filipina and her French husband.
Budji Layug + Royal Pineda Design Architects was tasked to bring the Filipino Moderne touch to this Provençal home on the valley.
Built on a two-acre property, the house is designed to reflect both east and west, modern and traditional sensibilities. The main house is at the center of the property, with an outer wing for the bedrooms and a separate guest house. The L-shaped residence and the villa cluster around the focal point, the swimming pool.
The property itself is like an idyllic French village. The outer boundaries are the vineyard, the olive grove, and fields that bloom with lavender in the spring.
Following Provençal building codes, the house is built in a style in keeping with the vernacular-solid masonry construction, which suggests stability; limestone which ages beautifully over time; tiled gable roofs; and windows with shutters. However, the design lines are pared down, eschewing the quaint details of old Provençal homes.
The interior finishes contrast with the roughness of the shell. The smooth stone flooring and plastered walls bring out the patina of the wooden trusses and rafters.
“The house is a mix of European sensibility and the modern tropical design in our philosophy. The way things are put together has resulted in a strong Eurasian concept,” says architect Royal Pineda.
To move toward the house is an experience in itself. The olive groves and vineyard that traditionally dominate the Provençal countryside come into view. Then the visitor is forced to make a turn on the driveway that reveals the lavender fields slightly concealing the house. A creek, used as a natural catchment basin, borders the main property. To cross, there are three bridges made more romantic by old stone.
A big garden envelops the house and gives the visitor a feeling of a sense of arrival. The experience is heightened by the gushing sound of water in the pond by the trellis and the stone steps leading to the front porch.
While most Provençal homes cultivate date palms, this property is surrounded by elegant bamboo trees.
Layug explains, “We are mixing the tropical feeling into the French landscape with the pond and the upcoming sun room made of glass.”
To Layug, the expressiveness of the house lies in how one moves from the entrance to inside the house. His design aesthetic: Allow the flow of space and light to create much of the decoration without the mayhem of embellishment.
Unlike in labyrinthine European homes, the flow of space here is typically modern Asian—a combination of spaces for socializing and privacy. The layout of the rooms, passages and openings compels people to move through the house while enjoying the views from the windows or the furniture vignettes.
The residence consists mainly of a big space with an open floor plan. Within it is a section that resembles a long corridor extending from one side to the other side. This in-between space leads to both public spaces, the living and dining areas and the kitchen. The opposite end leads to the three guest rooms.
Tucked in the end, the master suite has its own access to the pool and garden.
“The pool gives a resort feel,” says Layug.
The two porches take advantage of Provençe’s various vistas. The front porch offers a view of the garden and the old town of Gordes, while the back porch overlooks the pool, with the Alps visible from afar on a clear day.
“Behind the house is a long lanai. From the kitchen, you go straight to the pool and swim. From the bedrooms, you pass through the garden and into the poolside, the main entertainment area. When you want quiet space, you can go to the front porch while everybody is socializing at the back. The front captures the spirit of Provençe—the views of the vineyards and olive trees. There’s a breakfast corner because it faces the morning sun,” says Layug.
The pool, surrounded by a teak deck, is slanted at one end. “The pool’s angle was dictated by the property and the layout. It is parallel to the guest house, but tilted away from the main house. The design was oriented toward the views. The uneven tip gives it character,” says Pineda.
While the French look is manifested in the shell, the interior is contemporary with Filipino influences. Layug custom-made the furniture. His designs bear his signature clean, unfussy lines and elegant proportions, mixing tropical woods with modern materials such as glass, leather and metal.
For accents, he preferred Filipino antiques with simple lines to blend with the modern furniture. The antiques lend a rustic touch. Layug’s large abstractions, mostly in warm colors, harmonize with the ochre color scheme and warmth of wood.
Indeed, like the homeowners themselves, the house is a happy marriage of two worlds.