In a quiet neighbourhood far from the hustle and bustle of the medina, this house was built from the ground up in response to Austrian hotelier Christian Schallert’s desire to create a magical place where he could host his friends, family members and travellers from all over the world, and one ideally located a few steps from the famous Majorelle Garden and the Yves Saint Laurent museum.
Spread over a total of 805 square metres, Maison Brummell Majorelle comprises the garden floor (below street level, as local authorities imposed an 8-metre height restriction) with the common areas of the hotel, including the dining area, custom-built classic Moroccan kitchen, lounge, hammam with plunge pool and massage room as well as outdoor eating, living and swimming pool. The ground floor features the reception area, small shop and three rooms, while the first floor hosts five more bedrooms.
“Inspired by the local vernacular without replicating it, we have created a unique and playful contemporary language while maintaining a textural reference to the site’s rich history,” says Bergendy Cooke, founder of the eponymous Barcelona- and New Zealand-based practice, who designed the project with Marrakech-based architect Amine Abouraoui. “An abundance of lush vegetation and running water in various volumes conjures up the notion of [an] oasis.”
Local materials characterise the architecture, such as the pisé for the exterior, which consists of a mixture of earth and quicklime in a pink tone typical of Marrakech, and the hand-polished plaster finish called tadelakt, which originated in ancient Morocco.
Terrazzo was preferred for the upper floors, and covers all bedroom walls, bathroom sinks, wet areas and the pool (which is complemented by local limestone), while handmade Bejmat tiles adorn the garden floor, extending to the terrace, and touches of brass add to the perfect mix. “The legacy of traditional building methods was essential to the project, [which] fully utilised exquisite artisanal craftsmanship to create a contemporary typology,” says Cooke. “[The objective was to] pay homage to Morocco’s rich architectural history, including all the finishes throughout, but intentionally referencing them in a less traditional manner.” Playing with light and shadow, as well as with voids and solids, the architect strove to bring a variety of spatial experiences to life, always referencing the country’s culture. Several Arabic design elements are reinterpreted, such as the house’s sculptural form that pays tribute to the ancient rampart walls of the Marrakech medina, and the deep recesses that act as ancient ‘mashrabiya’ screens, providing privacy to the bedrooms. To develop her concept, Cooke imagined a story. “This was to be the imaginary house of a couple: Azzedine, a Moroccan, and Mio, his Japanese partner, who after years of living abroad have returned to live in Marrakech,” she describes. “The house is their shared vision, influenced by an international life, returning with fresh eyes.” Harmony and calm prevail in every corner, where the soft and restrained hues and materials are an invitation for relaxation and contemplation. “[It] aligned to our story of the couple who wanted to desaturate the (typically colourful) local palette and create a timeless interior.”
Egon Eiermann chairs, an Ingo Maurer paper lamp, lighting fixtures by Vesoi and Gio Ponti Lama door handles, among other elements, combine with the many bespoke furniture pieces designed by Cooke and fabricated by local artisans — including the side tables in timber and brass, dining tables, the console in the entrance and sofa modules, to name only a few. Works by photographer Maite Caramés and artists Per Henrik Adolfsson and Soufiane Zarib, and textile pieces made in collaboration with LRNCE and Marrakshi Life, bring even more character to the different spaces.
“The [hotel] needed to conjure up curiosity,” says Cooke. “Our ethos tends toward a minimalist mentality, a more honed solution, stripping away the excess, to produce projects that are concise in their solutions.”
Photography by La Dichosa and Emily Andrews
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