Bercy Chen Studio Creates Tucked-Away Tranquility with Casa Marrakech
East Austin meets North Africa in this modern Moroccan-inspired dwelling
By Veronica Meewes
Photos by Andrea Calo
As Austin continues to become more populated and lively, homeowners are seeking solace in the center of the urban oasis. The designers behind the aptly named Casa Marrakech use artful Moorish sensibilities to create a feeling of tucked-away tranquility in the middle of a quickly growing East Austin neighborhood. The entire property features a two-story structure, single story casita and carport bounding the rear alley and opening up into a courtyard. In order to maximize the space around a tree in the center of the lot, the walled riads of Morocco were discussed early in the design stage.
“The clients are staunch aficionados of modernism,” explains architect Thomas Bercy, one half of Bercy Chen Studio, an architecture and urban planning practice with design-build capabilities headquartered with offices in Austin, Taipei and Mexico City. “They were attracted to a minimalistic aesthetic but were intrigued by more exotic cultural precedents. Their love of travel became a source of inspiration for the project.”
Bercy followed ancient Moorish architectural principles of privacy, flowing water and habitable flat roofs plus design elements like a mashrabiya latticework privacy screen and clean-cut geometric lines intended to modernize and simplify the ensemble. A swimming pool animates the courtyard with trickling sounds and dancing light reflections, and the xeroscaped front yard and courtyard employ drought-resistant plant life one could just as easily find in northern Africa or Central Texas.
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The interior similarly exudes pristine minimalism, with streamlined fixtures, wide windows letting in plenty of natural light, and a limited material palette. Soothing white oak and white epoxy flooring, as well as marble tiling and backsplash, provide a canvas to display the homeowner’s colorful art pieces and furniture. And an open floor plan and low, open staircase make the entire space seem even airier than 1,800 square feet.
“Minimalism requires a precision of execution of the construction that can be more challenging than conventional projects,” says Bercy. “That said, the fact that the clients were familiar with construction and real estate made the process very smooth.”