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Architects HKS challenge conceptions of Morocco with Berber-inspired Fairmont Taghazout Bay resort

Architecture studio HKS have unveiled their concept designs for Fairmont Taghazout Bay – a 615 hectare seaside resort on the coast of Morocco, which has been conceived to challenge traditional assumptions about holidaying in the country.

Slated to open in the first quarter of 2019, the resort, 18 km north of Agadir, will feature 155 guestrooms and suites in addition to 52 Fairmont-branded luxury waterfront villas.

Development company Sud Partners wants to celebrate the cultural style of the Agadir region rather than what it describes as “the ‘Marrakech’ version of Morocco that is more familiar to travellers.”

As such, the HKS design is inspired by the dwellings of the semi-nomadic Imazighe people – known as the Berbers – rather than the riad architecture and bustling street markets familiar in Morocco’s biggest cities.

These farming and weaving communities would return to the region each season to take advantage of familiar sources of water and shelter, resulting in a footprint of semi-permanent and temporary structures fabricated from the earth.

HKS said their design draws inspiration from these constructions “by orchestrating interaction between the ‘imposed’ and the ‘natural’ to heighten the interplay of the site’s conditions.” One side of the structures is transparent and open to the sweeping panorama of the shoreline, and the other side is more closed to instil a sense of privacy and sanctuary from the elements.

Pavilions constructed on stone podiums with raised areas are shrouded in white cloth to recall the fixed structures built by the Berbers: plinths of soil and rock where clans could add fabric roofs to establish ownership for the season.

“We are fortunate to have a client from a traditional company which, from the beginning, wanted us to design a property that does not have a traditional look,” said Luciano Mazza, director of hospitality architecture at HKS. “Repeating history would be too straightforward. Our client challenged us to refine the age-old Imazighen cultural aesthetics into something modern for the younger generations of local Agadirens, not just well-travelled Moroccans who have seen the world.”

HKS are working with interior designer Wimberly Interiors and landscape architects Scape Design Associates.

The latter were also inspired by the Berber people with their design, which utilises intricate screens and local stone walls to enclose the guest as a way of building anticipation as they journey through the space.

Dry channels framed with grasses snake through the resort towards the waterfront, articulating spaces and drawing guests towards carefully positioned vantage points with impressive views. Water is used sparingly, so that when it does appear it creates a sense of drama.

Meanwhile, some lush gardens have been designed to evoke Taghazout residences that add greenery despite the arid landscape. The resort’s spa garden will sit in a sunken oasis surrounded by a cluster of buildings – inspired by a Berber village – where guests can receive different treatments. Enclosed private gardens are attached to each building, with earthen-clad walls and plants featured to create a sense of calm. Facilities also include a hydrotherapy pool, a yoga deck and a Moroccan hammam.

Phil Jaffa, founder of Scape Design, said: “This project required Scape to create a new image of Morocco centred on the dramatic, yet more relaxed, nature of the coastal landscape of Taghazout Bay. Drawing upon the region’s Berber culture and blending it with the local geography and geology, we have envisioned a contemporary resort that seeks to lead each guest on a journey of unfolding drama and romantic elegance through a design that directly springs from the story of an undiscovered Morocco and its coastal heritage.”

Fairmont Hotels  Morocco  Agadir  architecture  design  HKS  Berber 
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Architecture studio HKS have unveiled their concept designs for Fairmont Taghazout Bay – a 615 hectare seaside resort on the coast of Morocco, which has been conceived to challenge traditional assumptions about holidaying in the country. Slated to open in the first quarter of 2019, the resort, 18 km north of Agadir, will feature 155 guestrooms and suites in addition to 52 Fairmont-branded luxury waterfront villas. Development company Sud Partners
CLD,SAB,HHR,HOT,ARC,DES,DEV,INV
The HKS design is inspired by the dwellings of the semi-nomadic Imazighe people – known as the Berbers / HKS
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Robert D Henry Architects (RDH-Architects) was founded in 1990 in New York City by Bob Henry, known as the “sensuous architect of serenity.”
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