Sunday 21 December 2014

Paddy McKillen's 600-acre 'Xanadu' retreat in the south of France

Published 08/10/2012 | 05:00

Bronze foxes sculpted by Michael Stipe, former lead singer of REM, at Chateau La Coste, near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France
Developer Paddy McKillen
Louise Bourgeois's 'Crouching Spider 6695'
The Chateau La Coste vineyard
A glass-topped music pavilion, designed by Frank Gehry

HE may have lost a court case to the billionaire Barclay brothers, but developer Paddy McKillen is pressing ahead with plans for an extraordinary glass chapel made from 28,000 pieces of Waterford Crystal.

The spectacular glass and stone structure, at McKillen's Chateau La Coste vineyard complex in the south of France, is designed by John Rocha and is set to be unveiled soon.

But it is just one part of the Irish developer's own version of Xanadu, the fictional estate in the film 'Citizen Kane'.

Mr McKillen, who built the Jervis Centre in Dublin, has been working on the estate for almost a decade.

His enthusiasm does not seem to have been dimmed by reports that he faces legal bills of up to £20m (€25m) following his High Court defeat in his battle to win control of three luxury London hotels -- the Berkeley, the Connaught and Claridge's.

Mr McKillen's idyllic 600-acre retreat is turning heads near Aix-en-Provence after he assembled a collection of buildings and sculptures from some of the best-known architects and artists in the world.

Rocha spent the summer working on the crystal chapel, which includes a cross in the middle.

The fashion guru and the developer have been friends since the 1980s, when they ran a clothing business together.

Rocha has revealed that the design was inspired by Clonmacnoise, the sixth century monastic settlement on the banks of the Shannon in Co Offaly.

A luxury hotel-spa is set to open at Chateau La Coste next year.

Others who have contributed to Mr McKillen's estate include Frank Gehry, whose credits include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and Disney Village in Disneyland Paris. He designed the glass-topped music pavilion, which hosts concerts, and previously stood at the Serpentine Gallery in London. It was taken apart completely and rebuilt on Mr McKillen's estate.

Also dominating the landscape is a giant crouching spider sitting in a reflecting pool, by the sculptor Louise Bourgeois.

Renzo Piano, designer of London's landmark Shard skyscraper, has been commissioned to create an "eco-friendly building" with a grass roof.

A shining aluminium winery built by French architect Jean Nouvel was likened by the 'New York Times' to a "spaceship, touched down in Cezanne country".

The glass chapel is being built near a giant bowl sculpture by Irish artist and former member of the Virgin Prunes, Guggi.

The estate also has bronze foxes, sculpted by REM lead singer Michael Stipe.

Mr McKillen's personal and family assets are thought to include an art collection worth €20m, mansions in California and a pad in central London.

The close friend of Bono keeps a low profile when at his home in Foxrock, south Dublin, but drives classic Porsches while abroad and uses a Citation jet.

Irish Independent

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