Facelift for Villa Maria Serena
In collaboration with Nice contractor SMBR and the Municipality of Menton, as the supplier of its Prompt natural quick-setting cement Vicat helped return Villa Maria Serena mansion, built in 1866, to its former glory.
The mansion known as Villa Maria Serena has been overlooking the town of Menton on the Mediterranean coast, just a few steps from the Italian border, for more than 130 years. It was built in 1886 by Charles Garnier for the Foucher de Careil family. It stands amidst splendid gardens registered as being of historical interest and known as ‘Little Africa’.
In 1922 the property came into the hands of a British banker and 25 years later was bequeathed to the Municipality of Menton. Since then, the mansion has been a venue for galas and receptions, and today is a tourist attraction.
Anxious to preserve this heritage asset, early in 2019 the Municipality undertook a program for restoration of the exterior aimed at reinstating every inch of its Belle Époque charm. This work included refreshing 2,000 m² of façade.
Owner: Municipality of Menton
Works manager: Menton Municipal Works Department
Contractor: SMBR (Nice)
Located where it is, the building is not spared the assaults of sea air and mist and the salt they carry, so the renovation called for a durable material. Prompt natural quick-setting cement was the natural solution. Its unique mineralogical composition gives it exceptional properties: perfect bonding and resistance to the marine environment, low shrinkage, and compatibility with lime and old backgrounds.
To obtain a sound background on which to apply the new coating, the 2,000 m² of old plaster had to be stripped off to expose the underlying stonework.
Specialist contractor SMBR was then able to spray on the various layers of plaster made with lime and Prompt natural quick-setting cement. The smart sienna color of the top coat of the 3‑coat system gives the superb building all the splendor it deserves.
metric tons of Prompt natural quick-setting cement
m² of façade to be renovated
months of work
“The Vicat technician in charge of the project came up with all the answers to our requirements regarding the use of Prompt cement mixed with lime.
This restoration campaign revealed that despite the extreme conditions on the seafront, the condition of the plaster that had been on the walls for over 100 years was remarkably good. Prompt natural quick-setting cement provides even better resistance to the effects of salt air, however, and is stronger, while remaining sufficiently flexible to give the old building the real elasticity it needs, for the structure of this kind of building, whose stone walls are built with lime, is flexible and must not be stifled beneath a stiff ‘shell’.
It was an interesting first encounter with Vicat and this product. I have no hesitation in recommending Prompt cement and I look forward to working with Vicat people on more historic monuments soon.”
Pierre Verdet, SMBR Works Manager