Kasbah in Morocco

The word ‘Kasbah’ can either refer to a district or square in a Moroccan town or to a Berber fort.  On this exciting project, I was responsible for the overall design of the house, garden and garden buildings.  The exterior takes the form of a Berber fort or ‘Palais de Terre’ and the interior, the form of a traditional courtyarded Riad.

The building is extensive, covering 43,000 sq ft and includes four guest apartments, staff flat and master apartment, as well as common areas such as spa, gym, sauna, massage room, hammam, bar and swimming pool.  My watercolours which you can see here are the initial client presentation following numerous development sketches and discussions expanding the brief. The scale of the building can be judged by the two figures approaching the front door in my watercolour above.

On all international projects, it is essential to work with on-site architects with local knowledge of planning and building regulations, builders and costs.  There was a constant dialogue of emails and drawings between me and the local architect who had responsibility for the project management and implementation of my designs.

There is a wealth of artisan arts and crafts in Morocco with apprentices starting their training from the age of 12.  These include stone-carving, plasterwork, joinery, tiling and painting, all following complex geometric designs.  Once a ceiling is ready for painting, you can walk into the room and there might be 9 painters on the scaffolding, all painting with small brushes intricate designs on the ceiling and achieving the finished result incredibly quickly.  The design potential of ceilings is often ignored in modernist buildings.  The drawings here give an idea of the extent and size of the Kasbah but also the variety of different ceiling designs which have been incorporated.

The four hectare garden has within it a number of small buildings: pool pavilion, dining pavilion, service kitchen and gazebos.  The photos shown here are mostly work in progress, especially the garden which is still being planted out.