Sitting at the peak of a hill in the Moroccan mountain ranges, the incredible premises named Villa E rises up from the landscape, like a form extruded from the earth. The locally sourced Oika stone walling looks like an extension of the landscape. From the road in the valley, only tiny window openings reveal the inside of the structure, making one wonder what happens inside. Hidden within is a private mountain retreat designed by the highly inspirational France and Morocco-based Studio KO. With studio bases in both Paris and Morocco, Villa E represents the convergence of ideas from both design cultures. Studio KO weave together the contemporary minimalism of Paris with the earthy textures of the Moroccan aesthetic. Slender steel doors pivot lightly within monolithic desert red walls. Crisp white marble exists alongside textured rendered walls and crazy paving, forming a perfect hybrid.
The presence of these two influences feels so natural and effortless, it becomes secondary to the experience of the space itself. The architecture poetically mediates the visitor’s experience of the site. Obviously blessed with some knock out views, the designers have exercised control and restraint. Contemplative, inward looking spaces are interspersed between open spaces that make use of controlled, framed views of the surrounds. So in the moments when the long range views of the site are revealed, they pack some serious punch.
The work of Studio KO is best known for a series of rigorous, minimalist villas with monochromatic interiors set in spectacular landscapes in both France and Morocco. The style is a far cry from the more ornamental Chiltern Firehouse or Le Chardenoux des Prés, their 2011 brasserie in Paris’s Saint Germain-des-Prés, and they are the first to admit there is a curious dichotomy in their output.
With offices in Paris and Marrakesh, French architects Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty of Studio KO have worked on a range of East/West projects for clients like Marella Agnelli and the Hermès family. Their projects range from a refurbishment of a 17th-century apartment in Paris to an overhaul of a 1960s house in Dakar to contemporary villas for high-profile clients. The duo does minimalist exotica like no other – as evidenced by their tremendous Villa E.
Photography by Daniel Glasser and Philippe Garcia.
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