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Dream Houses

Far horizon and ethnic resonance

DR

On Atlas background, an inventive Moroccan house. Bubbling ideas and research: contemporary Morocco sounds like the place of all possible dreams

So near and disconcerting, Marrakech the imperial city is offered at the doors of the desert. Wide breathing on the Palmeraie, between plain and mountain, we are far from the treasures hidden behind the closed doors of the medina. The majesty of a natural site at the foot of the Atlas blurs the expected orientalist landmarks. An open countryside and its olive pickers, colorful markets along the roads and large earth walls line a century-old olive grove. A few more detours: the happiness of crossing the threshold of the house is measured to last forever.

At the rhythm of the staircase steps bordered by large jars of rusty metal, the garden unfurls its palm floor and its collections of cacti. On the façade, rusty ocher walls with straight lines, carved stone from the Chichaoua region, and not the smallest arabesque temptation. Under an apparent simplicity lies the duality of an open surface, widely deployed, facing a constant search for intimacy. It is then a question of rhythm and rituals of passage, of a very harmonious interior-exterior circulation to celebrate at any time of the day the beauty of the site. The High Atlas in the background, large canopies of canvas, supported by eucalyptus trunks, filter the light; because it is a soft reality, in Marrakech, throughout the year, it is good to live in the open.

The large living room overlooks the olive trees, a welcoming terrace that naturally extends a set of rattan furniture made in Casablanca according to the drawings of the hostess. Around, indolent private terraces highlight each room; a nap, attached to antique Berber tent pegs strewn with carpets, runs along the pool, accentuated by large, colorful cushions. Obviously, the masters of the place have succumbed to the sweet rhythm of Morocco and the subtleties of an ancestral way of life. In the same way, the architects Hakim Benjelloun on the one hand, and the Tajdid Assala agency on the other hand, composed of Rachid Arajli and Christophe Simeon, were able to build the project of a generous house while being attentive to the creative part that animates its guests. Because, in the preamble to major works, you have to imagine their happiness to wander on the wood markets, at antique dealers or Bab el Khemis - the fleas of Marrakech - to find the exceptional piece of wood, the old locks and hinges, old doors that will be rehabilitated and restored on the spot by artisans with golden hands. A long work of adaptation of the materials to the initial project, carried out with finesse.

Between the patios, large white cotton sails brew the air of a vast summer dining room which appears in all seasons the heart of the house. A majestic fireplace framed by eucalyptus accentuates the passage to the comfort of adjoining a kitchen with a square plan, checkerboard floor tinted cement enhanced with stone, and ceiling cross ogive traditionally coated with lime. Fruits and vegetables arrive directly from the market to the office, buns and patties are quickly baked while tajine recipes are developed on the tables in laminated teak assembly.

The oversized living room, brightened by a traditional Moroccan red carpet, opens to the game of hospitality. A nod to Constantin Brancusi with wooden stools, mid-tables and pedestals, and leather poufs from the must-haberdasher Marrakech, Mustapha Blaoui. Under the central suspension, Concha Bay, in bronze-colored resin with red lacquered heart, the floor draws an oak carpet defining a space for conversation. A "screen" of Bali creepers subtly cuts the space of the dining room, against a background of coral heads on a base. The light penetrates in waves, attenuated by large curtains in mlifa, fine wool and touch so smooth, redrawing according to the hours the contours of objects chosen with taste and meticulousness.

Designer objects such as the coconut lampshades by Ocher (London), the bronze sculptures signed Pira or objects found at the whim of travel with an intuitive pleasure: that of composing a serene and creative house. In spaces dedicated to private life, a composite talent, brought up to date by the gestures of traditional craftsmanship, is practiced in every detail. The rooms are often preceded by semi-shadow mid-light volumes: quilted antechambers covered with thick geometric wool carpets from the Beni Ouarain region or sitting rooms soberly covered with woolen blankets made of mattresses and black and white checkered bogolan woven from Senegal. Each of the rooms draws its own universe. Sometimes soberly contemporary, modulating light with interior cedar shutters with a recurring triangle pattern. Or highlighting a detail a Syrian chest of drawers inlaid with mother-of-pearl and stripped or a wall of curtains embellished with embroideries of Rabat.

The bathrooms, designed by Christophe Simeon, emphasize a resumption of the strict motifs of Berber architecture in a fade of niches and walls in sand-colored tadelakt where basins and bathtubs unpolished carved marble restore a clear atmosphere of abandonment. In breaking point, the personal graphic palette of the hostess is outlined in a wing entirely thought in black and white, with a bed on stage with large leather poufs or embroidery of Fez and a bathroom entirely. covered with black granite, revealing the landscape through large sliding shutters. At dusk, the freshness picks up the guests unexpectedly. Large fires are lit in the bedrooms and living rooms to prevent cold nights. In the semi-darkness, the night is about to reveal its share of fantastic and the lights, torches and candles are the occasion once again to reinvent a moving space. Does not Tahar Ben Jelloun say of Morocco that he is "inexhaustible and always creative because he is the place of a surprising imagination, that of a great people, loving poetry and fantasy, loving the other cultures and remaining open to all eyes that respect its complexity and dignity ". In the vastness of the plain, the gold of the setting sun prepares the house for night peace, while in the distance the Atlas impresses itself ... it is the exquisite hour.