Location: Tassoultante, Marrakesh / Morocco
Architect: Guilhem Eustache
Client: Private; Belgian film producer
Moroccan correspondent: Hicham BELHOUARI, architect / Marrakech / Morocco
Project year: Completion: 2007
Total Floor Area:
Private Residence: 171.96 square meters
Guard House: 20.20 square meters
Garage: 35.08 square meters
Pool House: 13.12 square meters
Total Plot Area: 2.5 hectares
Plantations: 23 olive trees, 10 palm trees, 450 eucalyptus trees, 200 mimosas, 20 fruit trees
Photographs: Jean-Marie Monthiers
Architect Guilhem Eustache was called on a few years ago and commissioned with the house plans for a Belgian film producer. The Belgian film producer asked Eustache to draw up the plans for several houses on a plot of land that the film producer had bought in Marrakesh, Morocco. Eustache had regularly visited Morocco over the years; ''right from my first trip I was bewitched by that country and the three projects studied to date are certainly fed, to varying degrees, by all the images and impressions gathered that I have during over the course of me trips,'' says Eustache.
The main difficulties faced, were the identification of the program on behalf of the client. What started off as a three house project on the plot of land gradually decreased to the smallest of these three houses, the aim of which was to preserve the natural surrounding terrain. With a sustainable architectural design, and volumes where the modestly proportioned building visually occupies the entire plot, it establishes a close dialogue with the land, the vegetation and the Atlas Mountains on the horizon. The 171.96 square meter house on 2.5 hectares is relatively small proportion-wise; therefore the architect Guilhem Eustache had to create a dynamic volume so as to balance things out and create a dynamic symmetry. The light of Marrakech only assisted in intensifying the volumes with the play of light and shadow and symmetrically blends the volumes into the large plot. The total floor area occupied by the residence, the guard house, the pool house and the garage totals 240 square meters in this 2.5 hectares plot; the arrangements of the volumes therefore permit avoiding the floating effect in this ‘empty space’.
But before determining the layout barriers needed to be created out of local materials – the clay barriers isolate the residence from the neighbor’s while allowing for the creation of white-washed geometries. Once you pass through the entrance gate and into the grounds of the private Fobe residence, you are surprisingly welcomed to a ‘strange’ world for local Morocco. On the right side upon entering, you come across the Guard house - two mixed cubes close to a totem fireplace which face the double garage doors studded with small openings along their whole length. These small, yet simple elements create an eloquent bareness leading the eye to focus towards the house itself.
The main residence which is created from locally sourced local materials is positioned adjacent to a milieu of two parallel concrete walls which provide for visual protection to the west as well as creating a sound barrier. Local materials (clay, tadelack, Pierre de Ourika) and techniques have been applied despite the architectural differentiation from local architecture. The Fobe residence has preserved the wildness of the land despite the fact that over 500 trees have been planted. Additionally, the walls have doubled in height to help deal with the climate, creating room high-rise and sun protections as each region and country deserves architectural answers, applied in line with climatic, cultural and economic conditions.
A vertiginous staircase runs up between the two walls to the roof terrace opposite the extravagant scenery of the Atlas Mountains, a view which is fog-free and highly appreciated during the spring time as well as during the winter when the magnificent mountains are covered in snow. With its lofty volumes, hefty heights, fluid internal divisions, the play of light and the shade in the surroundings, this house flows through the landscape and melts into it amidst olive, palm, eucalyptus, mimosa and fruit trees. The main residence undulates its floor plan on the ground level which includes two large master bedrooms with built in bathrooms, and walk in closets, a spacious kitchen with a large food storage room, a WC, and two large spaces used as living room and dining room. Paradoxically, the design and the program are simple and complex: a foliation of longitudinal, sails between the project program; tall windows, sets of geometric cutouts, framing, especially from the living room across the pool and its bleachers toward the Atlas range.
All in all, the highly admirable element in this residence, is the way that Guilhem Eustache has approached and dealt with the architectural design in this foreign, far away land; a land where he was flown over to design a house where he paid particular attention to the region and the country which provided him with the architectural answers, applied in line with climatic, cultural and economic circumstances.