13 May 2024 | News and Updates

It is not usual for a real estate agency to interview the owner of a house. However, when we came across a really different building at Benarroch Real Estate, we were curious to ask how such a project came about. Casa Mandaluz is facing an unbelievable landmarked landscape while located 10 minutes away from the center of the city of Ronda! Our chat took place last winter and we were granted the permission to publish it. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as we did.

You left Paris and came to build a house … in Ronda!

A: Yes, I changed scenery and view: from the Arc de Triomphe in the middle of Paris to the view you’re seeing here today!

Tell us about it… 

A: It was all about a life change and indeed it was a bold move. I was lucky enough to be in a business which made it possible. On one hand you have to be available to travel a lot, but in my case I could accept the heavy travelling as long as I knew I could come back to such a place, a soothing space that would enable me to continue my research and expertise once at home.

And why or how, Ronda?

A: I think it’s also the places that choose you: there are childhood memories, Morocco, Spain and this Spanish mother tongue in a country where French, Arabic and Spanish were spoken. It anchors you in several dimensions. But it’s love at first sight that triggers something that you later understand as evidence.

When I left Paris, my intention was not to become a farmer with olive groves and vineyards! I’m an art dealer and I’m lucky enough to make a living passing on Impressionist and modern works.

In Paris, I would open my windows and see the Arc de Triomphe and the Napoleonic victories inscribed on it, like a constant reminder of the history of Rome and France between 1800-1821. When I was shown the land where this house now stands, I was dazzled by the landscape and the actual “” piece of painting it represented. I had just sold a painting by a great French painter, Courbet, painted in the Swiss mountains. I saw it as a sign and thought that only such a pristine, grandiose landscape, a live painting, could be the drastic change I needed after the beauty of Paris, which I loved so much.

But still, building a contemporary house?

A: On the contrary, I had to start from scratch, not follow anyone else’s footsteps, and create something that would be an everyday tribute to this extraordinary view.

This house was granted planning permission in a landscape classified as a “Nature Preserved and no building zone “and there were a lot of duties and diligences to follow in order to get the paperwork right!

I was guided by a few specific ideas: to follow the sun’s path from sunrise to sunset, to ensure that the outdoors always enter the house, and not to try to compete with this extraordinary landscape. I’d also like to mention the architect Kourosh Mohsnipour, whose talent and culture have created a space that is both intimate and grandiose, bringing the mountains into the living room and the sky into every room.

What about the building, the actual materials, and the very inspiration? The garden, watering in summer?

A: Here as well, the same concern prevailed (letting the landscape be the main actor) which meant seeking advice from artists and commissioning bespoke pieces. This was the case for three of the bathrooms, but also for the terrace and its waterfall, the large fresco in the living room, the doors, the lighting fixtures and so on. Each element has been designed and manufactured, signed by the artist.

One has to try to be unique in a unique place. Probably a professional deformation of mine!

The garden and whatever was planted, had to stay within the boundaries and leave room for different points of view since the main idea was that the natural landscape had to come first in every aspect.

Hardy, resistant plants that cover the ground, no frills, no lawn, and white rosebushes called Iceberg … an irony in Andalusia! For watering, I took advice from an agricultural engineer and I collect rainwater from the roof of the house, which is then stored in flexible tanks. We water with reclaimed water and never with city water.

And how do you live here on a daily basis?

A: Almost the same way I lived in Paris! It’s a city house with a lot of comforts, but in an environment, that’s constantly changing, and that holds a lot of lessons. We live in a time when everything seems possible, but living in a place where nature imposes its rhythm on you… from the growth of the plants to the song of the birds or the bells of the sheep at night is a lesson in modesty. I didn’t come here to claim a romantic return to nature; I was fascinated by a landscape and this very one taught me about nature! But don’t worry… I’m going out! I go into town (10 minutes from the house to the center) almost every day, and I love looking at people, chatting with them, having a drink, visiting winegrower friends and telling myself that this art of living is still preserved here. I’ve learned a lot from the landscape, but the people here maintain ties that exist less and less elsewhere. It’s like an eco-system!

Our last question: why do you want to sell your house?

A: I left Morocco, then Switzerland, then Paris and now Ronda! Our lives change, and you have to know how to leave the places you’ve loved and reinvent yourself elsewhere. I don’t like the word sale; I prefer the word transmission. I don’t just sell works of art, I’m the intermediary who enables them to continue to live elsewhere by being seen by others.

There’s always better, of course, but I hope that others will feel the charm of this house in a setting of unspoilt nature.

Words have a meaning and in many languages the word “work, oeuvre, obra, opera, is used to describe a work of art as well as a construction building!

Brice Benarroch Mennessons

Article by Brice Benarroch Mennessons

13 May 2024
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Ronda: spectacular art collector's villa

Ronda: spectacular art collector's villa

2.800.000 €

Designed and built by renowned Iranian architect Kourosh Mohsenipour for a pair of art collectors, and art breathes life into ...

Ronda: spectacular art collector's villa