This summer, the art world Instagram feed got another very sophisticated check-in – Château la Coste. This fantastic project, initiated and inspired by one person, Irish property magnate Patrick McKillen, has proven that an exquisite winery and a food retreat together with the best examples of Starchitecture and works by extremely big names in contemporary art can be a match made in heaven. A visit to Château la Coste, not far from the idyllic Aix-en-Provence, can and surely will activate all of your five senses. There, you can taste delicious food by a Michelin-star French chef Gérald Passédat and enjoy Château’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Syrah.

A rather spectacular architectural layout, created by Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Tadao Ando, serves a frame to one of the most refined sculpture parks in France showcasing works of Louise Bourgeois, Sean Scully, Alexander Calder and many other distinguished artists. And there is a hotel too, featuring private pool villas with Alberto Giacometti and Hiroshi Sugimoto works on the walls. If you are not already packing your bags to head to this breathtaking place, then read our interview with the team behind Château la Coste to learn about the history of the project and its exciting future plans.

Chateau La Coste is a sanctuary of architecture. With Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Tadao Ando all contributing, did you have in mind before they started a particular area you wanted each of them to design?

All the artists and architects are invited at Château la Coste by the owner Patrick McKillen. They visit the place as friends and then they can think about a site which inspire them.

Of course along the collaboration, the owner Patrick McKillen can suggest some free areas and show spaces where there are already existing projects.

But there is no big plan of Château la Coste, it’s a project under construction.

 photograph © Andrew Pattman
photograph © Andrew Pattman
Photograph © Andrew Pattman 2016
Photograph © Andrew Pattman 2016

Tadao Ando’s philosophy to make architecture a part of the natural landscape and show art and nature in an organic marriage is perfectly visible at Chateau La Coste. We visited Ando’s Chichu Museum at Benesse Art Site Naoshima in Japan inspired by Monet and in particular by his Water Lilies. Here, at Chateau La Coste, we heard Ando was inspired by Cezanne? Can you tell us a bit more about it?

Tadao Ando says himself that he got inspiration from Cezanne here at Château la Coste. He says the following about the art centre: « What I have tried to create here, inspired by Cezanne’s presence in Aix, is to create a new work that share that connection to nature. I wanted to capture that same spirit of great humility that you find in Cezanne’s Paintings. »

Would you say Chateau La Coste is primarily a sculpture park, a winery or a hotel? What was the starting point and initially the main focus of the project?

Château la Coste is before anything a vineyard. The first artworks are the wines. Without the wines, Château la Coste doesn’t exist. So we could think the vineyard is the main project but it won’t be completely true.

Each project is independent and dependent on the other. The main focus is the overall project, everything has to be balanced. The concept is more about the « art de vivre » so it includes food, wine, nature, art, architecture, design.

Photographe © Andrew Pattman 2016
Photographe © Andrew Pattman 2016
photograph © Andrew Pattman
photograph © Andrew Pattman

Please tell us a bit more about the background of the project and how long did it take in the making?

Patrick McKillen bought the place in 2002. The idea was to make wine, he wanted to create something from the land.

To do so, he asked Jean Nouvel to build a new winery, les « chais » they have been here since 2006.

From there, Patrick started to invite at Château la Coste friends and family to discover the place and that’s how the site was created. There was no big agenda.

There are a lot of artists and architects among his friends. They came to visit, got inspired from nature, wines, tolive trees, and the view on le Luberon, and so they decided to create artworks and installations.

The list of artists commissioned to create installations for Chateau La Coste is absolutely incredible. What was your selection criteria?

As we mentioned above, most of the artists and architects were friends with Patrick McKillen. Then some of them have made further suggestions of the artists and that’s how the list is getting bigger and bigger.

Did you give the artists any inspirational guidelines?

There is not really a guideline, but every artist who comes over, understands the need to respect the nature and the landscape.

Would you say you have any taboo? Or are you open to absolutely all forms, shapes and messages art could possibly offer?

We don’t think there is any taboo. There is no type of art forbidden or messages, the only criteria is to respect the nature and landscape.

How often do you commission new art? Have you got anything in the making? Any particular artist you would like to invite for the next installation?

Again, there is no agenda so we can’t really say there is a pattern.
But for the up coming two years, we are having:
-I do, I undo, I redo by Louise Bourgeois, and Jean Nouvel, which is currently under construction.
-A new project by Ai Weiwei
-Benches by Jenny Holzer
-A new pavilion by Renzo Piano which is also under construction.