In pictures: Driss Kettani’s Villa Agava reflects Casablanca’s 1950s modernist model

Set against the cascading landscape of Casablanca, Villa Agava by Driss Kettani Architecte plays with notions of privacy and transparency, fluidity and functionality. Featuring a blind façade on its street-facing side, the residential design is largely open toward the backside, lending itself to a private, landscaped garden.

“The site was an occasion to reinterpret some of the codes of the traditional Moroccan house, which is very discreet facing the street to preserve the occupant’s privacy while being open toward the courtyard, or ‘riad’,” said Kettani, founder of his namesake architecture firm. “So the disadvantageous northern façade and the presence of existing high enclosure walls encouraged the use of abstract volumes.”

By incorporating a contemporary chicane entrance into the layout, Kettani ensured that guests cannot access the interior directly, and when entering one part of the home, visuals of the rest are filtered.
“The project has a balance between the public and service areas in a contemporary way,” the architect said.

“A wood panel plays as the ‘pivot’, giving the effect of fluidity and openness while maintaining the smooth separation between the two zones.”

The design’s standout features include the application of Fez-sourced ‘zellige’, or blue tiles, and the wood panel that separates the interior spaces. The tiles’ abstract aesthetic and warm hue add depth to the north-facing façade, while the panel creates an uncomplicated division between the areas. It’s ‘claustra’, or vertical wooden blades, hide the staircase that leads to the upper private floors.

Kettani also noted the landscaping as integral to the design. Designed in collaboration with Atelier Bertrand Houin, the courtyard features three sequences: the mineral garden at the entrance, the aquatic sequence on the lateral side and the vegetal garden on the south end.

He added, “Being inspired by the traditional codes doesn’t remove the modern character of the design, which tried to pursue the Casablanca modernist model – especially the 1950s one.”

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