French medieval town converted into art and design university

The ruins of a French medieval village have been converted into a campus for the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), which is based in the US state of Georgia.

La Maison Basse, located in the Luberon Valley in Provence, was previously owned by the Marquis de Sade, and has operated as a silkworm farm, an inn, a venue for bear tamers and a gambling den.

SCAD acquired the village, along with more than 30 other buildings, in 2002 from the former Lacoste School of the Arts.

The village had been abandoned for 40 years but now hosts studio classes, seminars, demonstrations, and housing.

Classes offered include architecture, art history, painting, historic preservation, landscape design and photography.

During the revitalisation many archeological idiosyncrasies were unearthed, including:

  • Decorative stones, featuring entablatures dating to classical times
  • The remnants of an abandoned 12th-century chapel
  • The unfinished head of a statue
  • The lids of stone sarcophaguses
  • A 15th-century cannonball.

Architectural elements were also conserved, including:

  • The remains of a16th-century balcony, which now rest atop an interior doorway
  • An 18th-century limestone sink with its worn basin
  • 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 is now a studio.

Images via SCAD

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