The Nomad Concept: Textile architecture

Saint Jean Cap Ferrat project – Nomad sailing by the sea

Exclusive shade cloths
Exclusive shadow cloths placed above a high abyss, 30 meters above the Mediterranean Sea, two white architectural sailing sculptures – with their sharp masts like spears – look out over the deep blue sea. They are meant to protect the villa against the exorbitant light and heat. While the top layer of this sailing composition has to brave the harsh sea climate with its high dynamic winds and burning sun, an underlying layer has been created to filter the UV light (with a special coating in titanium dioxide). The air between the two sails ensures good insulation against the heat. The warm air between the two layers flows upwards, like in a fireplace, and brings efficient cooling during the hot summer months. The bottom sail follows the flowing curves of the main sail.

The architect sees his sails “as a couple in ballet, who only touch each other’s fingers in a beautiful flowing motion”. The lower sail only touches the main sail on the corner tips. At the same time, this sail has its own unique character with a more delicate and lighter texture.

The two main sails follow the typical characteristics of this exceptional place: instead of cutting down trees, the flexible forms are sculpted around the old trees. The fierce and sharp masts protrude through the white sails, as if they are putting large holes in the tense shapes. These eyes, however, are contemporary forms of œil-de-bœuf designed to create beautiful views from the upper terraces to the infinity pool and the grand beauty of the Mediterranean Sea.

A very refined detail that the architect borrowed from the Japanese paper windows: see the shadow lines of the patterns of the upper sail through the lower sail. These shadow lines create an extremely refined three-dimensional effect on the flat canvas of the sail. This sophisticated play with light and shadow was also played with the shadow effects of the trees.

The masts are anchored in the rocks of the precipice with strong stainless steel cables – usually used within the world of the navy. Through the use of this durable material and the textile PTFE (better known under the brand name Teflon), these sails are weather and wind resistant for more than 30 years.

Architect Amandus VanQuaille received the bronze award for this project in 2012 at the famous International Design Award.

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