A gallery between sky and land: Richard Rogers’ last architecture

The Richard Rogers’ Drawing Gallery, an art gallery suspended above the vineyards of the Provençal landscape of Château La Coste is the latest project signed by the Italian-born English architect. Guest editor Jean Nouvel recalls.

This article was originally published on Domus 1065, February 2022.

Richard, whenever I often thought of you, I recalled these lyrics by Léo Ferré, the Mediterranean poet, Monégasque by birth, Italian by adoption: “Hey, Monsieur Richard! One for the road?” Léo liked to say of friends: “Best to meet them only at certain bleary hours of the night, with their men’s troubles, troubles with melancholy.”

Come on Richard, one for the road! Yes, Richard, at Château La Coste – the home of your friend Paddy, the brilliant Irishman who created that artists’, architects’ and wine producers’ park – you sent us a simple, clear, strong message. It was a leap into the void, into the azure of the Mediterranean sky, which immediately made me think of that startling photo of Yves Klein flinging himself into the air! The leap you took was also a leap towards Italy and a dive into the green of cork-oaks and vines, towards the horizon of La Quille, a kind of obelisk-trace of the history of that beautiful countryside going back thousands of years.

Richard, your long gallery promenade into the void is crystal clear: it connects artists to the earth and the cosmos at the same time. It’s a simple artistic gesture that welcomes artists. It works beautifully with the trees, the different kinds of light, the clouds in all their endless variations. Yes, simplicity was your innate elegance: simplicity of volumes and structures, the obvious subtlety of gripping the terrain. 

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners Richard Rogers Drawing Gallery, Luberon Nature Park, Francia, 2020. Foto © Stephane Aboudaram – We Are Content(s) – Château La Coste
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Richard Rogers Drawing Gallery, Luberon Nature Park, France, 2020. Photo © Stephane Aboudaram – We Are Content(s) – Château La Coste

Your discreet prowess revolved around this: how to leap into the void with levity, as if it were perfectly normal? Come on Richard, one more for the road. It’s simply like stopping time, a suspension of time, an eternal snapshot between earth and sky, as if the film had suddenly ended, with one small difference: it’s not twodimensional. It’s real and in-person, as they say.

Hey, Richard, how’s it going? That was the last one for the road. Everything will be fine, because without looking like that’s what you were doing, you set in stone this preciously fragile thing that lives on: the mystery of living beings.

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