Famous Architects on the French Riviera

Many of the worlds most famous architects on the French Riviera have worked on the French Riviera.

This article discusses a selected few who have made a wonderful impact in the area.

Stephan Antoni

The Villa Le Pine, designed by leading international architecture firm SAOTA, located in St Tropez.

Many of the world’s most recognised architects have worked on the French Riviera.

Here we discuss a select few who have made a wonderful impact in the area.

Stefan Antoni, SAOTA  

Villa Le Pine is a recently completed summer residence for a family in Saint Tropez designed by Stefan Antoni, director of leading South African architectural firm SAOTA. Commanding a generous site that borders a clearing of pine trees to the southern edge, the house is aptly titled ‘The Pine’. Combining a sumptuous palette of materials with large, open living spaces that blur the line between indoor and outdoor, the realised project provides a contemporary interpretation of traditional Mediterranean Riviera architecture, according to Designboom. 

Inspiration for the Villa

Positioned at the back of the plot, Le Pine is designed to step down into the contours of the land and maximise the existing features of the site. “When we first went onto the site, we found it lovely that you could look up into the pine forest and experience those amazing volumes under the canopies of the pines,’ says SAOTA director Stefan Antoni. ‘That became an important cue when we developed the design.”

Within the interior of the main living and dining area, the space is articulated by an undulating ceiling that ripples out to the exterior. Built from exposed timber planks, this design element makes reference to the bordering pine trees and the coastal location of the house. the curves of the ceiling also act as a juxtaposition against the straight, rectilinear volumes, bringing an organic touch to the architecture.

Barry Dierks

According to an article by Departures, Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill and Noël Coward are but a few of the storied guests who stayed at the various villas designed by American architect Barry Dierks during the halcyon days of the French Riviera, yet few have ever heard of the Pittsburgh-born architect from the 1920s and ’30s. 

Unlike his contemporaries Eileen Gray and Robert Mallet-Stevens, who built the famous villa at Hyères, Dierks, a graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, did not adhere to the classic Bauhaus style of the time. Instead, he developed a hybrid of American practicality wedded to European romanticism.

Chateau de l’Horizon

One such masterpiece was Château de l’Horizon, which Dierks designed for American actress Maxine Elliott after she retired near Cannes. The grand structure was built on an impossible slip of land wedged between the railroad tracks and rocky shoreline. After two years of work, which included blasting the rocks to make a flat surface for a pool with a chute going down to the sea, the villa was completed in 1932. 

Elliott entertained in her new three-storey home often, indulging her guests with every comfort. Aly Khan purchased the villa a few years after Elliott’s death, and in 1949 he and Rita Hayworth had their wedding reception on the grounds. The golden days of the château would soon draw to a close (the property now sits empty), but some of the white beauties designed by Dierks, such as the Villa Aujourd’hui, once owned by film executive Jack Warner, on Cap d’Antibes, still stand gleaming in all their glory.

For further reading on Chateau de l’Horizon

Pierre Yovanovitch

A beautifully designed house in the lovely Canebiers area of Saint Tropez designed by Pierre Yovanovitch featured in AD Magazine France. Now based in Paris, interior architect Pierre Yovanovich grew up in Nice but spent many of his summers in Saint Tropez. Being a huge fan of the area, he built a house for one of his childhood friends, which is located on the Route des Salins.

Known for his mastery of volume and space, Yovanovitch creates unique interiors that are always adapted to the genius loci, as well as to the client’s personality and lifestyle. Favouring noble materials – precious woods, stone, marble and metal – he transforms the space into a visually powerful example of elegant harmony. 

Art is an integral component of his approach to interior decoration, and is the backbone of his interiors. Yovanovitch is equally known for his ability to seamlessly merge contemporary and vintage, and works regularly with distinguished contemporary art, antiques, and design galleries to incorporate vintage elements in his spaces; he is particularly fond of classic Scandinavian and American designs from the1930s to the 1960s.

Furniture designs by Pierre Yovanovitch can be viewed and purchased at The Invisible Collection. 

This property also features in Madame Figaro.


Oscar Niemeyer

Villa Brasilia Saint Jean Cap Ferrat
Aerial views over the Villa Brasilia

The famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer left his mark on the French Riviera, in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. Not only satisfied at being on the most expensive peninsula in the world, he had to be on the most expensive part of the peninsula – Saint Hospice. Known to be one of the key figures in modern architecture, Neimeyer did not disappoint with his Cap Ferrat masterpiece. He came to France in the mid 1960s in exile and soon after began work on the Villa Brasilia in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, for Italian publisher Georgio Mandadori.

Based on an earlier project, Casa de Canoas, that Niemeyer created in 1953 in Rio de Janeiro, La Brasilia is true to the Oscar Niemeyer style, using abstract forms and curves. His wonderful quote:

“I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire Universe, the curved Universe of Einstein.”

There is a full detailed description (in French) on this website and old photos of the property can be seen here.

It has been reported that the villa has recently been renovated by the talented Peter Marino. There is no doubt that it is truly spectacular!

There is a full detailed description (in French) on this website and old photos of the property can be seen here.

It has been reported that the villa has recently been renovated by the talented Peter Marino. There is no doubt that it is truly spectacular!

Le Corbusier

Esteemed architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, spent many summers in his cabanon of 12 square feet, located in Roquebrune Cap Martin. The father of modern architecture referred to his humble log home as a chateau, he loved it so much. Certainly the location is fabulous, very close to the Principality of Monaco on one side, and Italy to the other. Two interesting features in the Guardien offer an insight into Le Corbusier’s life on the Cote d’Azur, and here. 

Tourist board (roquebrune-cap-martin.com) guided visits to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Cabanon, and the neighbouring Unités de Camping, also designed by Le Corbusier, run on Tuesdays and Fridays at 9.30am (adults €8, students €5, under-12s free). 

Two interesting features in the Guardien offer an insight into Le Corbusiers life on the Cote d’Azur, and here.

John Pawson

John Pawson is a contemporary British architect designer whose work focuses on ways of approaching fundamental problems of space, proportion, light and materials. Pawson was appointed to create a large property in the private residential domaine of Les Parcs de Saint Tropez. “Man of the Moment” is how he is described in the following article, where you can see more of this ultra minimalist property.


Since graduating from Nottingham Business School with a BA (Hons) in International Business with French, German and Spanish, founder Alexandra Connolly has used her passion for real estate, extensive experience and a solid knowledge of French property legislation to create Alexandra Lloyd Properties.

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