Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Inspiration on the road to the north

A mudbrick house, it sounds simple. At least here, in the north of Fez, where peasants build small whitewashed houses. In general, they are made of several rectangular rooms, that don’t directly communicate, but through the patio around which they are laid out.

Life in a Moroccan house – at least in the countryside – is very different from life in a European house.The same room is used as a living room, a bedroom, or a dining room, depending on the time of day. There is one room for the guests ; another for the girls of the family ; and another for the boys and unmarried men. When a man gets married, he build a new room, where he’ll move in with his wife. It’s different for the girls of course, since they leave their family when they get married, and settle for their whole life in the house of their husband – often only a few kilometers away from their parents’ house.

Our neighbors' house: a few rooms laid out around the patio, a sloping roof... surrounded by olives trees and prickly pear cactuses

Sometimes, houses have two floors ; it’s a little more sophisticated. Sloping roofs are the norm here, although plain, flat roofs can also be seen in the area.

But much more complicated buildings are be made with earth. For example, look at the Djenna Mosque, in Mali, here and here. Impressive, isn’t it ?

When we built our house, we stayed simple. Of course, the shape of some rooms – such as the kitchen – is different from what can be seen in the area. We wanted a house more confortable, more « Western », than that of our neighbors. The adjoining rooms communicate ; there is a terrace on the second floor, book shelves hollowed ouf of the walls, and a real bathroom. In the future, we really want to be more inventive because, when you build with mud bricks, or straw bales, the possibilities are endless. You just have to try !

We saw this beautiful house on the road that leads to the north of the country, about twenty kilometers from Ouled Mgatel. We will definitely have those arcades in mind when we’ll begin the construction of our next room.


Kristin said...

That is just so cool, being able to say you built your house all by yourself. I do not ever expect to be able to say that. Chicken houses? Yes. Sheep houses? Yes. But our house? All we do is fix it when things break. And I will never have the opportunity to have an arcade like that. Boo.

Actually, these houses remind me a lot of the houses in Arizona (a desert state in the Southwestern portion of the U.S., in case you're not familiar with it) where I grew up. I guess similar climates will always have similar home styles.

Marie said...

We didn't have a choice, everybody builds their houses here. But we didn't actually build everything ourselves - our neighbors helped use a lot, especially when we were not strong enough...
You're right when you say houses in Ouled Mgatel look like houses in Arizona. I think mud bricks, adobe and straw bales are construction techniques more used in the U.S. than in France, of course in areas where it doesn't rain a lot.
I saw the message on your blog about your tomato harvest, you're lucky ! Even stage 5 with its gin-tonics seems nice !

Maria said...

I agree with Kristin, it is phantastic when you can build your house as you like it, and when you want to have a new room, just build it.
I live in a town and there this is impossible.
I love to visit your blog!

Marie said...

Thanks !

cinziascott said...

thank you very much!
How ca be to live there? What to you do?
I'm an italian dancer, looking at your photo give me a feeling of beautiful lighly semplicity

Marie said...

Dear Cinziascott,
Thank you very much for your comment. We've been living in Morocco for 6 years now. My partner Fred is a musician, and he's specialized in Arabic music. That's why he came here... a year later I moved in Morocco too.