neil cummings

April 2017

Villa Arson

01 Apr 2017

For two weeks, I was a visiting professor at the Villa Arson;

Terrace-Brise Soleil

Built on Saint-Barthélémy hill in Nice, with magnificent views over the city and the Bay of Angels, the Villa Arson is a utopian art school - something of an interest of mine - built on an ideal-model of a provençal village in a 'brutalist' style.

A historical account of the Villa Arson site could go something like this; it was home in the 16th and 17th Century to a community of Capuchin monks who cultivated orchards, vineyards, watercress beds, and olive groves. Then in the 18th century it was purchased by an aristocratic consul of Nice who built a mansion on the hill looking down to the city and the sea. In 1812, after the revolution and the end of aristocratic consul of Nice, all 6.5 hectares of the estate was purchased by a wealthy merchant, Pierre Joseph Arson. He remodeled the villa, and also designed a spectacular formal garden, constructed from successive terraces – parterres - criss-crossed with paths and staircases.

Over time and as fortunes changed the Arson family began selling off parts of the estate, by 1927 a clinic was built next to the villa, the villa became a hotel, and the site shrunk to 2.5 hectares. After the war, in 1946 the estate passed into the ownership of the City of Nice.


Villa Arson and/or École Nationale Supérieure d'Arts
20 Avenue Stephen Liegeard
06100 Nice

43.721, 7.253


28 Mar 2014


Over the last few years, as part of Critical Practice research cluster at Chelsea College of Arts, we have been hacking the popular board game Monopoly.

Monopoly celebrates some of the worst aspects of our current political system. It encourages socially useless rentier behaviour, through which the 'winner' dominates a non-functioning economy. Ironically, the end of the 'game' is economic and political suicide.  Surely a more preferable 'game' would be where the aim is maximise economic wellbeing and minimise harm, for feveryone to flourish in a mutually beneficial way. 

The first 'hack' of Monopoly occurred at Utopographies 28th – 29th March 2014, an event that explored the interactions 'of locative and temporal creative speculations' where in a small workshop we began to deconstruct elements of the game, and incorporate the values we valued, utopian values.


Chelsea College of Arts
16 John Islip Street
United Kingdom

51.4902, -0.1283