Contrasting design principles collide in this countryside home, debunking the myth that traditional architecture is always characterised by being narrow and dim.
Set on the edge of a subtly sloped hill overlooking the expanse of Cairo’s countryside, namely the European Countryside off of Cairo-Alexandria desert road, you wouldn’t suspect from this farmhouse’s sharp, contemporary façade that it would feature an interior that blends domes and vaults with an open floor plan. It speaks to the brilliance of Mada Architects who – along with Hala Emam Studio’s furnishing magic in the interior – managed to create a one-of-a-kind home for an Egyptian couple moving back from abroad.
“The homeowners moved back from Dubai wanting to settle down and set up an aquaponic farm in the Egyptian countryside,” Ramses Nosshi, co-founder of Mada Architects, tells SceneHome. Nosshi started the practice in 2007 with fellow architects and co-founders Khaled El Hammamy and Gawad Hashish, who used to work together at Dar Al Handasah before starting their own firm.
“We went around searching for a site and picked this location for its unique topography. It’s on a hill and we decided to build the house on its edge for privacy and a maximised view of the scenery.” Ensuring – in the process – that the owners had plenty of room to grow and sell all of their herbs and veggies, you know, tomatoes and what not.
One of them wanted a house with traditional architecture, featuring domes and vaults, while the other asked for a contemporary interior with an open floor plan and big windows, basically, the opposite. “They had contrasting requests, but they also had a clear vision and were extremely detail oriented which was helpful.”
Approaching the entrance, two main elements of the design’s furnishings are given away. The door has a distinct teal hue that repeats itself with shifting intensity throughout the residence, and a metal canopy with intricate ornaments covers the window, extending to provide shade to the entrance. “Entering the house, you’ll find the lobby separated by a metal screen made of materials salvaged from vintage homes like the windows and doors,” he adds.
As for the non-salvaged furniture, they still had similar motifs applied to them by Hala Imam studio to maintain their traditional aesthetics. Including metalworks, woodworks, and furniture design. Hala Imam, the studio’s founder, took on the challenge of curating and custom making furniture which not only satisfied the homeowners but complemented the unique architecture of the house. “We worked on the project closely from the very beginning and through each phase,” Nosshi says.
The open interior is split into four compartments that host the lounging area, fireplace area, kitchen and dining area. “The red brick dome was the only one left exposed because the dining area needed to feel warm and earthy,” Nosshi explains. The dining table was designed by Imam with ornaments similar to those found on the staircase and coffee tables. Grey paint and granite on top gave the table just the right amount of contrast to complement the dome that covers it. Imam also curated sofas from William’s and chairs from Meuble El Chark.
The whole house functions on the first floor with the second hosting three bedrooms, a kitchenette and a family living room for when the homeowners are hosting. Linking both, is a sleek staircase with white Carrara marble slabs held together with a steel structure. Salvaged metal work is topped by a wooden handrail and lighting fixtures have modern outlines.
The washrooms in this house are equally as brilliant as any other space within it. “Placing the shower on the marble slab allowed for the washroom to feel open and have a smooth circulation by not using any glass partitions. A dome with plenty of openings floods the space with daylight,” Nosshi says of the washrooms which are floored with geometric mosaic terrazzo tiles and coated with white marble.
“The master suite has two terraces, one links it to the public garden and another to a private courtyard with an outdoor shower surrounded with greenery.” Outside, the landscape relied on an organic split between the flowering and gardening that opposed the edginess of the facades. The pool extends the house’s axis and a sunken seated area within it features a fire pit. As indirect lighting under the steps sets the ambiance for time spent completely off the grid, in the gorgeous home.