Detached Houses

Fobe House / Guilhem Eustache

  • Architect:Guilhem Eustache
  • Location:Tassoultante, Marrakesh. Morocco
  • Date:2007
  • Area:240.36 sqm
  • Client:Dimitri de Clercq


Fobe House – Description from Guilhem Eustache.

A client introduced me to a Belgian film director and producer who commissioned me to draw the plans of several houses on a property he had bought in Marrakesh, Morocco. For many years, I had regularly visited Morocco. From my first trip, I was bewitched by the country and the three projects studied to date are certainly inspired, to varying degrees, by all the images and impressions gathered during my stays there.

© Jean-Marie Monthiers
© Jean-Marie Monthiers

The land is located about ten kilometers south of Marrakesh. It is flat, mostly lying under a veil of heat that conceals the horizon.  It is only between the months of December and March that the snow-capped Atlas Mountains appear. For this first project, I wanted to establish a close dialogue with the land, the vegetation and the Atlas Mountains on the horizon.

© Jean-Marie Monthiers
© Jean-Marie Monthiers

As we planned to build a small house, measuring 170 square meters, on a 2.5-hectare plot, we had to create a dynamic equilibrium, despite this difference in scale. We played with light and shadow to enhance and strengthen the volumes. There is a fine link between architecture and cinema. Architecture is primarily perceived through movement. The eye moves, when the perspective opens, gradually revealing the various elements that constitute the house.  In the distance, we see a white square. As we move closer, it becomes a cube, a white wall, a tube. Then we discover openings… But another white rectangle turns out to be a flat wall and a small triangle, a pyramid.

© Jean-Marie Monthiers
© Jean-Marie Monthiers

We used local materials and techniques such as clay, tadelack, “pierres de l’Ourika”, etc.  We preserved the wildness of the land even though we planted more than 500 trees.  We doubled the walls to help deal with the climate, creating living spaces of important heights and sun protections.  Each region and country deserves architectural answers that are adapted to specific climate, cultural and economic conditions.

© Jean-Marie Monthiers
© Jean-Marie Monthiers

There is, on average, between 10 and 20 days of rainfall per year in the region. There may be two major rainstorms each fall, which could flood the land. For that reason, we followed the advice of the Moroccans and elevated all buildings by nearly 50 cm. The water for the house comes from glaciers on the Atlas Mountains. A well was dug on the land, to a depth of approximately 30 to 40 meters.

© Jean-Marie Monthiers
© Jean-Marie Monthiers

To combat the heat, we created rooms with very high ceilings and double walls. Leaving an air pocket between the two walls made drafts possible, by increasing the openings to the outside.  We created a winter living space and a summer lounge. We positioned concrete sun breezes in front of most of the openings, which work best when the sun is at its highest position in the sky, during the hottest hours of the day and the warmest season of the year… Using light colors, placing a small pool of water by the entrance, and building a large swimming pool also afford the house a breath of coolness.



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