Balancing global styles with Moroccan standards, a geometric concrete home catches the eye without sticking out.

In a family photo, everyone might share the same eyes or nose or smile, but you can immediately spot the one with an extra spark, the spirit of adventure. So too the Casablanca, Morocco, house of architect Mehdi Berrada. Though similar in size and shape to other area homes, it stands out while blending in. It’s an original. 

“It belongs, but it doesn’t. It isn’t a house that says, ‘Look at me,’” Mehdi says. “It’s a house that says, ‘I’m free.’” 

A dramatic stairwell rises through the center of architect Mehdi Berrada’s bold new home in Casablanca. At the top, a steel-framed retractable skylight casts graphic shadows.

A dramatic stairwell rises through the center of architect Mehdi Berrada’s bold new home in Casablanca. At the top, a steel-framed retractable skylight casts graphic shadows. 

Photo by Amanda Large & Younes Bounhar

Mehdi was born in France to Moroccan parents and they moved to Casablanca when he was three. He grew up there in houses designed by his architect father, who created bright, white homes with pure lines that melded Le Corbusier’s International Style with local vernacular. Today Mehdi has his own firm, designing houses, factories, retail spaces, and hotels. 

The walls of the stairwell are made of board-formed concrete painted black.

The walls of the stairwell are made of board-formed concrete painted black. “Everything in the house is experimental,” Mehdi says of the atypical dwelling, “the materials, the layout, the garden, the exterior.”

Photo by Amanda Large & Younes Bounhar

He loves the city’s contrasts. Palm trees line elegant boulevards, while the ancient medina is a river of humanity channeled through a maze of alleyways, filled with pedestrians jostling with vendors for space. On Mehdi’s narrow residential street, the din diminishes, and even more so behind his perimeter walls. Thick tropical vegetation—false bananas, yellow canna lilies and fig trees—surrounds the house. “It’s a nest in the middle of city noises, a bunker in the jungle,” he says.  

In the living room, a burned spruce ceiling—inspired by shou sugi ban, the Japanese technique of charring cedar—contrasts with rendered concrete walls and a polished white concrete floor divided into rectangles by thin brass insets. A Toot sofa by Piero Lissoni for Cassina is paired with Mad Queen armchairs by Marcel Wanders for Poliform and Pebble coffee tables by Air Division for Ligne Roset. The antique rug was bought at the Casablanca souk.

In the living room, a burned spruce ceiling—inspired by shou sugi ban, the Japanese technique of charring cedar—contrasts with rendered concrete walls and a polished white concrete floor divided into rectangles by thin brass insets. A Toot sofa by Piero Lissoni for Cassina is paired with Mad Queen armchairs by Marcel Wanders for Poliform and Pebble coffee tables by Air Division for Ligne Roset. The antique rug was bought at the Casablanca souk. 

Photo by Amanda Large & Younes Bounhar

See the full story on Dwell.com: A Modernist Cube Rises in the Ancient City of Casablanca

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