A riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard.Generally from one to four storeys high, the riads are completely closed on the inside, isolated by high neutral and austere walls, with a minimum of openings to protect from the heat and noise of the street.
Most often located in a medina, they generally comprise a single floor due to administrative constraints; in addition, the architecture of certain districts provides for special rules, for example, because of the proximity of a monument such as a kasbbah (royal palace).
The riads are organized around a central patio – lounge / – dining room, as a base of an architectural structure in the form of a well stepped in balconies turned on the inside, inspired by the traditional Arab-Andalusian habitat, of the Persian heritage and Roman heritage (dwelling atrium of ancient Rome).
The word riad originates from the Arabian term for garden, Arabic: رياض, ryad. The ancient Roman city of Volubilis provided a reference for the beginnings of riad architecture during the Idrisid Dynasty.
When the Almoravids conquered Spain in the 11th century they sent Muslim, Christian and Jewish artisans from Spain to Morocco to work on monuments.
The Riad is the Moroccan traditional house, normally with two or more storeys around an Andalusian-style courtyard that contained a fountain. Riads were the stately city homes of the wealthiest citizens such as merchants and courtiers.
The riads were inward focused, which allowed for family privacy and protection from the weather in Morocco. This inward focus was expressed with a centrally placed interior garden or courtyard, and the lack of large windows on the exterior walls of clay or mud brick. This design principle found support in Islamic notions of privacy, and hijab for women. Entrance to these houses encourages reflection because all of the rooms open into the central atrium space. In the central garden of traditional riads there are often four orange or lemon trees and often a fountain. The walls of the riads are adorned with tadelakt plaster and zellige tiles, usually with Arabic calligraphy of quotes from the Quran.
The style of these riads has changed over the years, but the basic form is still used in designs today. Recently there has been a surge in interest in this kind of house with a wave of renovation in towns such as Marrakech and Essaouira, where many of these often-crumbling buildings have been restored to their former glory as hotels or restaurants. Many of the crumbling or ruined properties in Marrakech have been bought by foreigners. This foreign interest has brought new challenges but the investment has helped with the restoration of the UNESCO site and has helped revive many of the handcrafts and artisan trades that were gradually being lost before this trend. Many of the restored riads in the districts of Mouassine and Lakssour offer the finest examples of restoration as historically these areas contained many of the grand palaces from Marrakech’s Saadian period.
The naturally fresh and air-conditioned patio is inspired by the oases, the Islamic garden and the Persian garden (hence the name of riad draws its etymology). It is usually planted with trees, ornamental plants, refreshing ponds and fountains.
Living room and dining room
The living rooms and dining room open are turned to the patio (bou’h or menzeh) and allow to enjoy its freshness. The kitchen is also on the ground floor.
The rooms are upstairs while the top of the well can be opened, or closed by a canvas or retractable canopy, depending on the season, the level of light, heat, weather, etc. The roof is laid out as a terrace in the sky, overlooking the other roofs and the urban environment. it can include a solarium and a steam room.
Shape in wells and balconies
The riads are generally decorated in a traditional and harmonious way, even luxurious, with ancient elements of Islamic architecture, Moorish architecture, Moroccan handicraft, Islamic arts, Arabic geometrical figures in Islamic ceramics and zellige. They are one of the important and much sought after elements of tourism in Morocco, and as a holiday resort.
Plaster is used extensively by artisans to create architectural works of art and decorations.
The traditional habitat of Morocco, especially the old riads, is a cultural treasure. Their origin goes far back in time ( history of Morocco ), but in their current form, they are a Muslim temporal representation of paradise.
The growth of new cities has resulted in disaffection and degradation of traditional habitats. It was not until the 1960s and 1970s that artists, diplomats or celebrities, seduced by these abandoned jewels, restore old houses in Fez, Rabat, Salé, Meknes, Tangier, Essaouira or Marrakech. Some of them settled there permanently, others spend a few months in the year.
Threatened by ruin due to the departure of wealthy populations to new modern neighborhoods, these riads have enjoyed since the 1990s a renewed interest due to the desire for a safeguard of cultural heritage and tourism development 1. That’s why many of them have been converted into hotels, guest houses or restaurants.
Finally, an increasing number of riads are bought and rehabilitated by Westerners who make them their second home. The quality of the restoration of the riad can however be problematic because of the non-use of traditional materials and techniques, often in favor of concrete.
While most have been fully refurbished to benefit from all modern comforts ( bathroom / shower tadelakt, heating and fireplace for the winter, air conditioning, solar panel, etc.), others, more traditional, have been little changed.
By extension abusive and commercial, the term “riad” has been associated with other types of housing in Morocco. These can be located outside the ancient cities (medina) and do not have a patio with garden. Riad becomes an adjective that qualifies any house that takes some elements of the architecture or decoration of authentic riads medinas. We thus speak of “villa riad”, “dar riad”, “kasbah riad” and even “hotel riad”.
Source From Wikipedia