Habibi Forever

TYPE Private residence
SIZE 2.100 m2 enclosed space, 1.600 m2 terraces
LOCATION Marrakech, Marocco
STATUS Completed in 2008
CLIENT JL Investissement

TUPELO arkitektur with Abdelkarim el Achak
Tupelo crew Christopher Dyvik, Emil Kristiansen, Knut Hovland
Tupelo Arkitektur and Moroccan architect Abdelkarim el Achak (Marrakech) have collaborated on a new exciting residence outside the Medina in Marrakech, Morocco. The unique combination of their respective talents and architectural heritage, has led to the creation of a unique villa. The Scandinavian interpretation of traditional Arabic architectural design has resulted in a residence that is at once private and sacred, yet open to nature. The Moroccan method of internal organization and its inherent complexity juxtaposed to the Nordic heritage of purity and openness has manifested itself in a series of unique spatial relationships and experiences.

The riad structure has thus been reinvented by the incorporation of the garden as a fourth wall. The interwoven and overlapping walls, and wall segments, create visual privacy but enable open-plan movement. Contemporary decorative patterns on many surfaces enhance the experience of moving though the compounds exterior and interior spaces. Zellige, or tile work, is extensive, as well as sculpted plasterwork, and traditional moosh arabi, or latticework. The decorative patterns of the zellige are monochrome with no center or edge detailing, creating uniform surfaces. Open wood latticework filter the light into areas and create light play on floor and wall surfaces, while the repetitive hand carved patterns in the plasterwork add a third layer to the walls and ceilings.

The infrastructures of walls that organize the compound contain many traditional bhoo, covered outdoor lounges for relaxing. These intimate spaces are accessible throughout the interior and exterior spaces. These retreats create intimacy both in the exterior setting of the walled gardens, as well as habitable objects placed into the main lounges.

The residence consists of three main buildings as well as numerous secondary structures. Villa Principale, Villa Secondaire, and La Tour are the main volumes that make the residence. They all have individual functions as well as combined functions to serve the property, while being seamlessly set into the six hectares of garden. This then enables the residents to experience either solitude or companionship in the outdoor spaces, at their leisure.

Villa Principale, being the main residence, is located at the intersection of the orange, olive, and vertical gardens. A 70 meter long wall, echoing the ancient walls of the Medina of Marrakech encloses its north face. This wall acts as the main entrance to the compound and weaves the visitors into the main courtyard space. The three sided courtyard is defined by a yoga studio, hamman and training area to the west. The main salon and its pavilion define the exterior space to the east. A linear elevated pool penetrates and intersects the olive grove and vertical garden, opening the space up to the south and the Atlas Mountains. Each side of the building is then its own setting, with its own defined space. Villa Principale continues to inspire visitors by a number of individual structures within, containing three bedrooms with their private gardens to the east.

Villa Secondaire is a smaller sibling of the main house, containing more bedrooms and a rooftop terrace, while La Tour differs from the other structures in that it is vertically presented in the horizontal landscape. The relationship between the buildings creates a small private village with gathering places and many smaller areas for retreat. While each building has an obvious function and identity, there are similar features such as archways and arch forms used in the pools, as well as skylights throughout. The simple Scandinavian forms and volumes of the residence, combined with local craftsmanship reinforce the unique viewpoint created by the architects. This is a residence where two worlds have met successfully and beautifully, a place to live and experience. Habibi Forever.