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This is a marvellous book, in which photos speak louder than words. It is a very good effort to bring the courtyard houses to the realm of the concerned readership of scholars, students, and artists who seek good knowledge and beautiful display of coloured pictures.

‘Courtyard houses of Morocco’ is wonderfully written, with a blend of large shining photos and meaningful text. The book comprises seven chapters which take the reader through the courtyard houses of Moroccan cities. In chapter one, the book discusses the relation between the home and Islam, and the importance of the house as the sanctuary of the soul. In chapter two, the book further elaborates on the ‘Medina’ or the Muslim city in an effort to introduce the traditional context for the courtyard house in Islam, and then goes on in the next chapters to review houses in different cities. In chapter three, in the holy city and Fez, the book deals with notions of Hispano-Moresque art, and the retiring nature. In chapter four, and in Marrakesh city, the Andalusian art becomes infused with rural influences. Courtyard houses in this city become a magnificent feast for the eye, and the garden becomes a metaphor for the Paradise. In Essaouira medina in chapter five, the book takes the reader through new patios made of stone and wood, and villa Baghdadi reviewed through large coloured photos becomes alchemy of Africa and the East. Chapter six, Kasbahs of the Oases, defines an architecture that is unique to North Africa, and warns of a heritage in peril. The final chapter, temples of the art of living, closes on by revealing Dar Ahlam, and draws on contemporary influences leaving room for some speculation and interation between the traditional and the modern.

The book completes one of the missing links in the research about Arab houses, thus becomes important for art, architecture and social studies that can derive, compare and understand beyond the text by means of the many illustrations it contains.

The book comprises 214 pages. It is a publication of Thames and Hudson in 2005, with 235 colour illustrations. It is written by Corinne Verner, and photographs by Cecile Treal and Jean Michel Ruiz.


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