MAAAM, Tahnnout, Marocco
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Reflecting on simplicity. Reconstituting order. Reconciling with the material. The return to nature and the landscape revaluation. Rediscovering silence, light, the elementary, the necessary and the archetypal. Refusing waste. Returning to the composition. Rereading the tradition and inheritance of the culture of anonymous projects. Consciously constructing with limited resources and the local technology together with the local people. Inquiring oneself about the material, space, light, nature, silence, tradition, the divine, the site, the human, color. These were the presuppositions that guided the project “Courteous Architecture”.

The Site
A two-hectare field with 120 olive trees that descends gently towards the river. In front, very near, rises the range of Morocco’s High Atlas mountains. The plateau slides eastward for 40 kilometers as far as Marrakech. The earth is intense reddish brown. Two green strips of cultivated olive gardens are pasted to the banks of the river which threads its way into the gorge between the mountains to the west where breeze blows from.

The Project
The volumes of the construction are low, two stories high, formed of irregular rectangles of the same color as the earth, and barely reach above the foliage of the olive trees. They blend into the landscape. They seem as if they were always there. They have something in common with the houses of the nearby village. The windows break the façades at different heights and are of various dimensions; an abstract composition. Direct light cuts into the space through the asymmetric inner splays. The pavement is in red stone from the Ourika valley. The walls are dressed in plaster according to the Maghrebian tradition. The entire design is reduced to the essential. The material, color and light are protagonists.

The Destination
Constructed spaces begin with man’s desire to dwell and to find an answer to his needs. In this case the project was motivated by a desire to create an architecture for work, ready to host an international study and research center; archives dedicated to the culture of anonymous projects in architecture and design, open to students, professionals and researchers. In the coming years the center will integrate other small land plots where constructions dedicated to didactic activities will be built.

The scale of the constructed structure was reduced to a contained, intimate dimension so that the structure could be reconciled with the surrounding nature without overwhelming it. The pre-existing olive orchard became a large garden.

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