Private Villa

THE CONTEXT

The small private garden is situated in the heart of one of the older neighbourhoods in Casablanca. Less than 2,5km from Casa Finance City, it is firmly in a residential area, dense with small detached single-family homes with small gardens. 

THE SITE

The site itself is 380 m² of which 145 m² are occupied by the house, leaving a small area for the garden which is situated mainly on the south side, perfect for a good light exposure to the living rooms of the house. However, the neighbouring buildings are close to the boundary wall on two sides and therefore feel very present, and across the street on the other side is a large school, several storeys in height. The challenge was therefore to create a peaceful and private haven where overlooking and noise from the school could have cause potential nuisance. 

THE DESIGN

In order to make this garden feel private and special in spite of its urban setting, and because of its small size, we opted for a tropical feel, while trying to use plants the best adapted to local conditions and with slightly lower water requirements than a normal tropical plant palette.  By providing lots of shade and total earth cover, we felt we could significantly reduce excess moisture loss from the soil. We also enriched the soil with plenty of compost and local Moroccan pozzolan to naturally retain water. 

The concept developed out of the idea of cutting a pathway out of a lush forest, leaving just a small clearing in front of the glass doors of the living room which open completely. The living room seems to flow unobstructed to meet the outdoor space in a continuum thus creating a larger living area appearing as a clearing in the larger forest. The stepping stones used were offset to create an impression of space through avoiding long direct views. A circle of white pebbles provides a focal point and articulates the change of direction of the rectangular pavers as they turn to follow the water runnel at the base of the water wall.  

No tropical garden would be complete without water, and so a circular pool created a focal point, appearing to be fed by the wall of water which gently drips into a runnel along its base, and into the pond at its extremity. The wall is covered in a natural stone veneer only millimetres thick, allowing the profile to be kept narrow, while still having the aspect of natural slate. Overhanging the pool, is a circular platform providing seating outdoors in the heart of the garden. A perfect setting for a reading a good book, sipping mint tea, or enjoying time with friends. 

The plant palette includes palms, banana trees, and plants with interesting foliage such as the large expansive and cut-out shape of the Philodendron selloum, or the long sword like form of the Phormium tenax. Arums, periwinkle and Tradescantia nestled in the shade, while the coloured leaves of Canna provided drama. Giant bamboo planted behind a root barrier was used to create a visual screen but still needs a little more time to establish well.  Planted less than a year ago, it is clear that the vegetation is not yet as tall or well developed as it will be in just another few months.

A space for a sculpture supplied by the client, creates a focal point and a splash of primary colour to the garden. Seen from the rooms above, or from a point of view embedded in the vegetation, the white pebbles, stone and ground covers provide the perfect background for this sculpture. 

Photography: Jean-Claude Laffitte; client

Role of the entrant in the project (landscape architect, developer …): Landscape Architect

Project Location : Casablanca, Morocco

Design year: 2020

Year Built: 2021

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