Location: Marrakech, Morocco
An adventure searching for the perfect derelict Riad, through the constuction itself, to the end result (insha'Allah!)

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

An 8yr old's first visit to Morocco

The seed that sparked an adulthood obsession with Morocco started when I was only 8 years old.  Clearing out the attic yesterday lead to the discovery of an old scrap book of childhood holiday memories.  Within it we uncovered a page I wrote at the time about my short visit to Morocco back in 1980.  You could say this blog started 32 years ago!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Moroccan Art of Mashrabiya

Traditional mashrabiya woodwork is a lovely arabic architectural feature which involves great skill on the part of the artisan.  In the woodwork souk in Marrakech you can see hundreds of artisans turning wood, fashioning it into spinnials to make up mashrabiya screens.

The mashrabiya screen concept was traditionally derived from early cooling methods used in arabic houses in the hot middle eastern climate.  The theory goes that where the drinking water pots were stored in the house a shelf containing the pots was enclosed by wood and located at the window in order to keep the water cool.  Later on this shelf evolved until it became part of the room with a full enclosure and helped provide a natural cooling method for the room itself.

A parallel theory suggests that the word mashrabiya was originally mashrafiya, derived from the arabic verb Ashrafa, to overlook or to observe.  This reflects the use of mashrabiya in windows allowing the person inside the window to observe what is going on externally without being seen themselves. Mashrabiya when used in windows can be particularly beautiful, especially when the light creates wonderful shadow patterns inside the rooms.  As seen below in a bedroom suite at the stunning Riad Dyor in Marrakech.

At Riad Romm'an, we have asked for mashrabiya to be used for the wardrobes (below) in all the bedrooms, purely as a decorative feature.

However, mashrabiya is also being incorporated into the design of the external windows. This will provide privacy and also help to cool the rooms as Mashrabiya was originally intended. They also look beautiful!

Monday, 16 April 2012

The plasterers are here!

With the electrics and plumbing all installed, its now time to start with the finishes. The first job is to get all the walls smooth plastered. Its a big job and the plaster goes everywhere.  Initially I though the chap above was plastering in his bare feet, but no, on closer inspection he is in fact wearing traditional moroccan babooches (slippers).

Riad Romm'an is to have a retractable roof and therefore unlike most traditional riads, the courtyard will not always be open to the harsh Moroccan sunlight.  It is sunny in Marrakech for the vast majority of the year, so the retractable roof will offer some protection and also keep the heat in at night when the temperature often plummets. This gives us more of a free reign within the courtyard so we have opted to use smooth plaster which will give a crisper finish than traditional rough render.  Such a finish would not be advisable on a completely open courtyard as the weather would damage it.

Inside, work is continuing on the plastering too, including the shelf/alcoves in the kitchen (below).

The decorative ceiling in the grand salon is being created on site from plaster and cut by hand with great skill.   Below you can see one of the plasterers in the open salon actually making a beam.  The plaster really is going everywhere, he's practically swimming in it!

The final picture below shows some of the beams installed on the grand salon ceiling itself.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

April, and spring comes to Riad Romm'an

With the arrival of April, its warming up in Marrakech with temperatures reaching 30 C! At the moment there's so much going on at Riad Romm'an its difficult to keep up.

On the roof, the terrace walls are being smooth plastered and it's starting to look much sharper.  With the nice weather, its good to see that hats have made a comeback on site, albeit still not of the hard variety.  You've gotta love the Moroccan Insha'Allah attitude!

The traditional (and obligatory) feature of decorative roof tiles surrounding the roof terrace are now installed.  Apparently, these roof tiles are an oriental feature and the colour green has been associated with Islam for many centuries.  Green was used by Muhammad's tribe on their flags and according to Muslims the colour symbolises nature and life.

With it being April and spring being in the air, it seems appropriate that we are thinking about green, nature and life.  This reminds me of this lovely idyllic scene I shot in the utterly marvellous gardens of the Hotel La Mamounia in Marrakech (below).