4 Enchanting Moroccan Villas by French Duo Studio KO

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By Michele Koh Morollo
The superstar architectural pair is perhaps best known for their evocative, minimalist villas—and it's easy to see why.

Olivier Marty and Karl Fournier of Paris-based Studio KO are architects who don’t like following trends or shouting about having a signature style, but their texturally engaging architecture has won them many famous fans. "We wish for there to be no KO style, but a KO attitude," says Fournier. His partner Marty explains that they'd rather come up with the best solution to a problem, rather than impose their own formal language.  

Villa K looks to views of the Atlas Mountains.

Villa K looks to views of the Atlas Mountains.

Perhaps it’s this independent streak that’s put them in favor with clients such as Italian aristocrat Marella Agnelli and former director of Hermès Patrick Guerrand-Hermès, who commissioned Studio KO to design their homes; or celebrity hotelier André Balazs, who hired them to design his London hotel Chiltern Firehouse.

The light that enters the home has a sundial effect, panning across the rooms over the course of the day.

The light that enters the home has a sundial effect, panning across the rooms over the course of the day.

In late 2017, they completed the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech—a 43,000-square-foot museum and cultural center that pays tribute to the works of the late and great fashion icon.

Interiors of Villa D

Interiors of Villa D

While they've worked on projects around the world, the duo has an affinity for Morocco—they have an office in Marrakesh—and have created a number of remarkable private villas with powerful architectural forms there.

4 Enchanting Moroccan Villas by French Duo Studio KO - Photo 4 of 10 -

The duo’s anti-brand approach means that every project they work on has its own distinct character, where the architecture becomes the best part of the interior design. 

Materials such as unpolished stone, used for the interior walls, speak louder than statement furniture or décor.

Materials such as unpolished stone, used for the interior walls, speak louder than statement furniture or décor.

In many of their projects, the texture of the building’s surfaces—materials rooted in rural architecture such as unpolished stone, dry earth, a hammered iron basin, and rough-hewn beams—speak louder than statement furniture or décor. Recently, Studio KO has published a book showcasing their work. We take a look at four Studio KO-designed villas in Morocco included in their monograph.

Villa K

In the small town of Tagadert, looking to views of the Atlas Mountains, is this villa with a simple perpendicular pool and a facade comprised of enigmatic, cubic modules that echo the old dwellings of the nearby village.  

A perpendicular pool in Villa K

A perpendicular pool in Villa K

Villa E 

Red stone walls, reminiscent of structures from medieval times, are used in the construction of this villa in Ourika Valley. Conceived with a narrow glass window that cuts through the interiors from floor to ceiling, the light that enters the home has a sundial effect, and pans across the rooms over the course of the day. 

Red stone walls, reminiscent of structures from medieval times, are used in the construction of this villa in Ourika Valley. 

Red stone walls, reminiscent of structures from medieval times, are used in the construction of this villa in Ourika Valley. 

A narrow glass window cuts through the interiors from floor to ceiling.

A narrow glass window cuts through the interiors from floor to ceiling.

Villa D

This monolithic villa in the town of Al Ouidane has a chapel that takes the form of a black cube, which can be accessed through a side breach of a larger cube that serves as the main entrance. Because its art collector owner dislikes stairs, and didn’t want traditional windows, Studio KO concealed the stairs within the "second skin" of the house, so they disappeared into the thickness of a wall, and used narrow slits and small apertures in place of conventional openings. 

Narrow slits and small apertures take the place of conventional openings in Villa D.

Narrow slits and small apertures take the place of conventional openings in Villa D.

Villa DL 

Located near the peaceful seaside village of Ghazoua, this villa has small roofless courtyards, and a central patio reminiscent of the types found in ancestral farmsteads in the nearby countryside. 

Villa DL has small roofless courtyards, and a central patio reminiscent of the types found in ancestral farmsteads in the nearby countryside.

Villa DL has small roofless courtyards, and a central patio reminiscent of the types found in ancestral farmsteads in the nearby countryside.

Want to see more? Find more information about the monograph below.