Deep in the French monastic city of Fontevraud, Paris-based studio Agence Jouin Manku scouted out the Fontevraud Abbey—a hallowed collection of monestary buildings dating back to the Middle Ages—for a sleek, shockingly seductive hotel and restaurant renovation. A good bit subtler than the firm's past body of eye-popping work, and definitely less invasive than many a modish Church renovation, the team agreed to keep the original structure of the building completely unaltered, instead crafting "a journey between tradition and modernity" by adding a new layer of "emotion, sensual pleasure and poetry," that the former tenants probably wouldn't have approved of.
So what, exactly, comprises said sexy poetry at the Fontevraud L'Hôtel? Mainly, an palette of pale woods, metal and fabric in soft, subdued hues, all picked to to complement the original stone architecture without making the space feel, as architect Sanjit Manku put it to the New York Times, like just some "Hilton with limestone walls and an interesting back story." In place of new walls, the space is divided up by custom-designed, extremely clean-lined freestanding furniture, with a cloistered area devoted to food service, bedrooms spread across private wings—those headboards are meant to emulate a monk's hooded habit—and an alter-shaped bar under the arches in the chapel because "in France, wine is not alcohol, it's another religion." Tour the entire grounds, right this way.
· Agence Jouin Manku transforms Saint-Lazare priory into modern hotel and restaurant [Dezeen]
· A Monastic Setting for Sybarites [NYT]
· All Agence Jouin Manku coverage [Curbed National]
· All Churches coverage [Curbed National]