In Marrakesh, Inspired by De Chirico

Three images inspire architect Guilhem Eustache: paintings by Giorgio de Chirico, long tracking shots in films by Orson Welles and the Jantar Mantar observatories at Jaipur.

He’s demonstrated the influence of each at his recently completed Fobe Home, ten miles south of Marrakesh, Morocco.

“My desire was to establish a close dialogue with the land, the vegetation and the Atlas Mountains to the horizon,” he says.  “Being a small house of 170 square meters on a plot of 2.5 hectares, we had to create a dynamic equilibrium despite this difference of scale.  We played with light and shadow to enhance and strengthen the volumes.”

His biggest challenge lay in defining the program with his client, a Belgian film producer who originally planned to build three houses on the site.  The project gradually shrank to include the smallest of the three houses, at 1,800 square feet.

On the flat site, he positioned the main building at the center, with a keeper’s house and garage on the edge closest to the Marrakesh access road.  Two parallel concrete sails create a noise and visual barrier to the west.  He oriented each part of the house for the best possible views of the Atlas Mountains and protection from sun and wind.

“We doubled the walls to help deal with the climate, creating room high-rise and sun protections,” he says.  “Each region and country deserves architectural answers, adapted in line with requirements climatic, cultural and economic conditions.”

He used local building materials and techniques: clay for exterior walls, tadelack (plaster) for the baths, and stone from the nearby Ourika Valley for all the floors.  In a final green flourish, he created a plantation of more than 500 olive, palm, eucalyptus, mimosa and fruit trees.

The end result is a near-surreal, metaphysical experience that takes its cues from classic canvases of  de Chirico.

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