The Design of FOBE House, Morocco
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 Marrakech, 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. The main difficulty was to define the program with the client. Originally we had planned to build three houses on this site. In order to preserve the land and its stark landscape, the project gradually decreased in size to finally implement only the smallest of the three houses: the Fobe House. The client informed me that he had bought a second larger plot (5 hectares) located closer to the Atlas Mountains in order to build the other two houses. For this first project my desire was to establish a close dialogue with the surrounding landscape, vegetation and the Atlas to the horizon. The Fobe House being a small house of 170 sqm 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. 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.
When conceiving a house, what drives your inspiration and informs your creativity?
The work of the major architects, painters, sculptors, conceptual artists or filmmakers of all periods and all schools have influenced my work in varying ways.
A detail of a Giorgio de Chirico painting, stumbling upon the Fez dye baths one early morning, a tracking shot in an Orson Welles´ film, discovering the Jantar Mantar site in Jaipur might all be conscious or unconscious sources of inspiration for me. I carry these impressions around with me – some for a very long time – and they eventually slip into my work. It’s a very mysterious process. It´s very difficult for me to pinpoint the precise architectural or artistic influences where this project is concerned. So I’m always surprised when a journalist makes astute connections between my work and the work of one of these artists
What drives your passion for architecture as we move into the future?
I don´t see my projects in terms of a hypothetical future, but as part of a peaceful intemporality.
Regarding the FOBE house, what inspired such a unique house to be created in such a stark surrounding?
Simply placing a wall or two or three pyramids in the middle of a desert suddenly makes everything strange and more captivating. For this first project, I wanted to establish a close dialogue with the land, the vegetation and the Atlas Mountains on the horizon
What is your definition of luxury?
That word is a bit overused today, which is why I prefer to think in terms of `exceptional moments´. Contemplating a masterpiece from art history is one of those moments. It stimulates awareness and incites strong, unique and liberating emotions.
How does your definition of luxury play into your architectural designs?
Although, according to Hegel, architecture should be considered the first among the arts, my intervention is narrative – a more cumulative and pragmatic process than a conceptual one.
What do you think houses of the future will look like and how will the dwelling change as our earth’s weather conditions and available resources alter?
Our beautiful planet is suffering from many ills. The problems are exacerbated by the extreme disparities around the globe in terms of climate, ecology, access to energy, as well as the economic, demographic, political and social situations. The solutions cannot be the same for Asia, America or Africa. The new so-called “passive” dwelling (autonomous in terms of energy) is now the norm in Europe. Although one can deplore that the adopted model is too standardized, the minor visible impact of the technologies used leaves room to hope that talented architects will enrich and diversify this model in the coming years. There won´t be just one type of dwelling for the future but rather a multiplicity of architectural proposals. They´ll integrate, and not necessarily visibly, new advancements or other alternatives stemming from more modern versions of proven techniques, the creation of innovative design and the use of natural recyclable materials better adapted to specific contexts.
Interviewed by Angela Tunner, Founding Editor in Chief
Biography of Architect Guilhem Eustache
After graduating in 1986 from the Architecture School of Paris (l´Ecole Spéciale d´Architecture de Paris), my projects in France include day care centers, a school, the renovation of a private residence as well as several lofts and apartments. I´ve also worked with a Belgian film producer on a series of projects in Marrakech and more recently in Brazil with a house all in curves. Improving the quality of life has long been my professional creed, where the core value is space rather than the object. A demanding personal commitment to clean space and well lit volumes. A singular universe to be seen and understood. By changing axes and heights, alternating the empty and full, creating a balance of masses, generating light, superimposing surfaces and varying scale, I seek to create a dialogue between these elements in order to compose a complex and singular space to serve the user. To do so, I emerge myself in the project – accompany and carry it – unrelentingly seeking inventive and generous solutions. Constant in my choices and orientations, my projects are inscribed in the continuity of a tradition that responds to the demands of both the environment and society. Respecting the local context without succumbing to folklore, a quest for lasting simplicity.