DAR MIM is a renovation project by Septembre of a traditional courtyard house in the historic heart of the city Hammamet, on the Tunisian coast. Dar in arab may mean house, adobe, structure.
The term dar is derived from an Arabic verb dara which means, among other things, to circulate, to take place, to go on, to be held, and to centre on or around. The house is called dar because it is the physical location of the family and its activities.
The projects preserves the general typology of a patio house and its particular elements such as the entrance court, the central patio and the vaults. The entrance court serves as a buffer zone between the entrance to the house and the street. The central courtyard is the common space for an extended family, functioning like a shared living area. Each side of the courtyard was a private suite for each family.
This house is the last remaining piece of a larger traditional courtyard house that was divided and demolished along the years.The parts that have been maintained but modified are the central one containing the original courtyard, two housing volumes on each side of it and a small patio aside the street.
Dar Mim organizes the main living functions around the two courtyards just as in traditional arab housing.
Aligned in height with the adjacent buildings and overlooking the street, two new levels were built for additional space without obstructing the patio.This added volume hosts the guests living area. It has its own independent terrace that is accessible from an exterior stair.
The core of the house can be seen from this terrace. This is part of all visual and spatial connections intentionally created by the project. They help to maintain the relation between solids and voids that provide natural light and ventilation to the house. The inhabitants can interact between the different spaces and levels of the house.
To unify all the elements, new and existing, all surfaces are treated and painted the same way, in white. The use of plaster and lime paint on all exterior walls is a traditional technique related to history and climate. The concrete floors, bring a contemporary element but maintain freshness in all spaces. It is left raw in the living room, waxed in the bedrooms and white-washed in the two courtyards. All woodwork and metalwork are custom made by local artisans.
DAR MIM was preselected for the Aga Khan award 2016.
Photos by Sophia Barrack