opal house

design brief

Andy Martin Architects were selected from a shortlist of acclaimed International Restaurant designers to restore and convert the classic 50s residential villa, Villa Zevaco, to a mixed use commercial operation. This was to include a boulangerie, brasserie restaurant, lounge/study, specialty restaurant and function rooms.

Situated in the elegant Anfa District, the heart of Morocco’s most cosmopolitan city, Casablanca.  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.

The specialty restaurant, 'Restaurant Villa Zevaco' is situated on the first floor and overlooks the brasserie's landscaped forecourt and the surrounding chaos of one of Casablanca 's busiest intersections. The restaurant was to have a cosmopolitan atmosphere and have 70 internal seats and 60 seated on the perimeter balcony.

design challenges

AMA have approached the project with the utmost respect to the existing design; working within the original framework of the villa. AMA has created a series of spaces which pay homage to Zevaco and the Moroccan building tradition and are to be enhanced by contemporary International design values.

A main concern was to find the essence of the building’s architecture - the way things feel, touch and smell and how one to perceive material reality.  The architecture of the Villa is seen as a timeless capsule, a sensitive container for enjoying the perfect dining experience. Another important challenge was how retain the panache of the building and its unique domestic scale, as the space was required to be opened up from 4 bedrooms to one restaurant space.

design results

The restaurant is designed around the existing formality of the villa. One enters through the large gated entry door and up the marble clad central stair to the reception and one is immediately confronted by an elegant and simple bar. The footprint forms a 'L' shaped space set around the small finishing kitchen and toilets. The formality of the space is juxtaposed by the playful application of materials. Petal shaped Carrera tiles are set into white terrazzo and form a seamless connection to he balcony. The walls are restrained and finished in Oroko veneered panels and have lit recesses for local 50's artworks with lower panels in a 'Moroccan Blue' leather.  The furniture, designed by AMA, was to be reminiscent of Carlo Mollino giving the atmosphere an eccentric twist. AMA have also designed bespoke lighting, chandeliers, wall lights and table lamps using the form of the building as their inspiration.

The atmosphere is fresh, relaxed and cosmopolitan. The sense of restraint is constantly battling with elegant detailing, typical of the period. This non-stylistic and honest approach to the design will provide a truly classic restaurant worthy of its location with this classic building.