New Zealand and Spain-based architecture practice Bergendy Cooke unveil their latest project – a boutique hotel in Marrakesh, Morocco, paying homage to the city’s centuries-old architecture and artisanship. “The Maison is a contemporary interpretation of the local Marrakech vernacular. It’s inspired by the city’s rich architectural history but purposely does not try to replicate it,” Bergendy says.

The hotel is laid out over three floors; the lower floor sits below ground level and contains the public spaces, including the living, dining, kitchen, outdoor and pool areas. “The below-ground level emulates a Riad [a traditional Moroccan house] with an enclosed courtyard and garden, enveloping the space in vegetation and cooling it during the summer months,” Bergendy says. The level above that – the ground level – contains a reception, small lounge area and three bedrooms, all of which have their own private gardens and outdoor baths. The upper level contains an additional five bedrooms, all with their own private terraces.

Bergendy likens the building itself to a sandcastle, calling out its sandy-pink colour and sculptural archways – a tribute to historic Arabic architecture. The upside-down archways, she adds, were their way of avoiding imitation and instead, recreating the element in a playful, more contemporary way. The pink walls also reference the ancient ramparts of Medina, the oldest part of Marrakech, dating back to the 1000s.

Wanting to showcase Morocco’s rich artisanal heritage, Bergendy Cooke leaned on local materials and traditional building methods to construct the hotel. The building’s walls are made of Pisé, a mixture of earth and quicklime, and finished in Tadlelakt, a type of hand-polished plaster. Bergendy Cooke selected the pink colour of the exterior as a nod to the past and the bone colour of the interiors as a nod to the present. In both grey and pink, they have used Terrazzo to line the floors – inside and out – and mould custom furniture pieces, including seats, bathtubs, washbasins, splashbacks and bed heads.

Overall, The Marion is designed to offer a range of experiences – from inside to outside, and from one level to the next. “At an intimate level, the tactile hand-finished interior creates a sensory experience, while the exterior is something to be considered as a sculptural piece, with its arched forms generating curiosity,” Bergendy says.

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Locally-made steel-framed windows and doors were specified throughout.

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High walls give the spaces an enormous sense of privacy.

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