Andy Martin Architects were selected from a shortlist of acclaimed British restaurant designers to restore and convert a classic 50s villa, situated in the elegant Anfa District, fancy heart of Casablanca, Morocco’s most cosmopolitan city. Villa Zevaco, formally called Villa Sami Suissa, was built in 1947 by Jean Francois Zevaco for the builder Sami Suissa and soon became an iconic building because of its beauty, modernity and originality.
ama have approached the project with the utmost respect to the existing design; working within the original framework of the villa, the architects created a series of spaces which pay homage to Zevaco and the Moroccan building tradition enhanced by contemporary British design values. The most important challenge, retaining the original structure of the building and its domestic scale, has been the creation of a complex which includes restaurant, bar, boulangerie, tea house, library, gardens and terraces. Starting from what was a three bedroom house, ama managed to create a tranquil heaven away from the bustle of the city.
Villa Zevaco is located at the intersection of the Boulevard d’Anfa and the promenade, which leads the Casablancans to the seafront. A new build grand rotunda entrance with a dramatic central skylight echoes Zevaco’s trademark use of the spiral, whilst elements of his interior styling are being enhanced to add a contemporary yet retro edge to the building. Andy Martin Architects worked closely with landscape designers to bring the plant life and running water, which plays such an important part inside and outside Zevaco’s building, into the overall design.
ama also designed furniture and fittings for the villa and gardens, marrying classical British styling with traditional Moroccan materials and techniques. Discreet use of screens and trellises create areas of natural shade and light that change as the sun moves throughout the day. By night seating areas in the gardens are lit with table lamps and low level lights guide visitors along garden paths which link the rotunda with the restaurant. Visitors can chose between the elegance of the first floor dining room, the bar with its gardens, cushioned seating and terraces or the quieter space of the library.
The main concern for Andy Martin Architects was to find the essence of the building’s architecture- the way things feel, touch and smell and how to perceive material reality. The architecture of the Villa is seen as a timeless capsule, a sensitive container for enjoying the perfect dining experience.