The simple lines of tropical modern architecture are transformed by pops of Caribbean colour at the magnificent Villa Utopic in St. Barthelemy.
Words by Natasha Were. Photography by Roméo Balancourt and Gérald Tessier, courtesy of St. Barth Properties, www.stbarth.com
Carved into a hillside on the west coast of St. Barths, above the still-traditional fishing village of Corossol, Villa Utopic
stands out for its seamless transition between indoors and outdoors and clever use of colour.
Completed in 2016, the villa was designed in large part, both inside and out, by the owner. The selling point of the piece of land was the sweeping views, which take in green forested mountains and clusters of red rooftops, shallow bays with boats at anchor, white sand beaches and, in the distance, the world-famous harbour at Gustavia.
The design therefore had to take full advantage of the cinematic vista as well as the tropical climate. The owner worked with local architecture firm Architectonik to create the construction documents, taking inspiration from the work of celebrated Brazilian architect, Marcio Kogan, and self-taught Japanese designer, Tadao Ando, both of whom favour simple, modern styles, ample use of concrete and a sensitive integration of indoors and outdoors. Because of the steep incline, the home is only one room deep, resulting in a stretched design that extends along the hillside.
Access to the villa is via a driveway from below, so the more utilitarian aspects – parking area, garage, gym – occupy the lower level.
Above this is the main living space, where the kitchen and living room are positioned on either side of a covered dining terrace, and look out across a palm tree studded deck and infinity pool to the bay below.
In order to offer maximum privacy each of the three bedroom suites are located in an independent pavilion: one above the kitchen, the second above the living room and the third at the end of the pool terrace.
Spanning the length of the lot, the home is long and low-slung, providing every room – including the bathrooms – with sensational, unobstructed views. Magnificent Sky-Frame frameless sliding glass doors and windows replace entire walls on the ocean-facing side of the kitchen, living room and bedrooms, so that even when indoors, one can be immersed in the views.
When fully open, the kitchen and living room merge seamlessly with the covered deck, where a vast live-edge dining table is the entertaining hub of the home. From the dining area one steps down to the sun terrace, where plush double daybeds are lined up in the dappled shade of the palm trees, along the edge of a 70-foot pool.
As well as fully embracing the views, the design creates sightlines that reach from one end of the property to the other, lending it a sense of flowing continuity. Nothing jars or interrupts the eye either inside or out, and the flawless expanses of concrete, wood and glass compliment the sense of harmonious calm.
In the bedrooms, king size beds sit centrally under vaulted ceilings from which elaborate OLED chandeliers from BlackBody hang, and sliding glass doors envelop one in the same panoramic views. Spacious bathrooms are equally pared back with designer floating vanities and walk-in rain showers by Antoniolupi sitting against crisp white backgrounds. Because the property is set into the hill and is not overlooked, the bathrooms too benefit from large windows whilst being totally private.
The kitchen is a masterpiece of clutter-free space, with black countertops and natural wood cabinetry cleverly concealing appliances, sockets and stovetops. In keeping with the understated contemporary style, the furniture is minimal and the colour palette based on muted pale greys but, with an obvious flair for design, the owner has changed the tone of the property dramatically with the simple addition of bright, candy-coloured accents.
Pink, teal, lime and blue chairs surround the central dining table and equally vibrant throw cushions and towels adorn sun loungers and bathrooms, introducing flashes of carnival-style fun and elevating modern minimalism to something altogether more celebratory.
Having vacationed on the island regularly over the course of several decades, the owner has seen St. Barths evolve from a sleepy backwater into the glamorous celebrity haunt it is today. The home he has constructed there is a microcosm of this unique island: it is unerringly refined and sophisticated, yet still embraces the tropical climate and playful spirit of the Caribbean through its use of bright, vivid colour.
Photography by Roméo Balancourt and Gérald Tessier, courtesy of St. Barth Properties, www.stbarth.com