Architects: Studio KO     Photography: Dan Glasser     Construction Period:  2019     Location:  Marrakech, Morocco

Since first opening its doors in 2017, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent became an immediate design and cultural destination in Marrakech. Dedicated to the work of the legendary French couturier, whose famed two and a half acre Marjorelle Garden is located just around the corner, the museum houses an important selection from the Fondation Pierre Bergé (comprising some 5,000 items of clothing, 15,000 haute couture accessories and tens of thousands of sketches and assorted objects).

Studio KO took the lead from the celebrated fashion designer’s work and archives, as well as his profound love affair with the Moroccan city. While researching the designer’s archives in Paris, the architects were intrigued by the duality between curved and straight lines, and the succession of loose and clean cuts.

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Designed to recall the weft and warp of fabric, the lace-like curved brick façade is undoubtedly the hero of the structure. The exterior comprises cubic forms adorned with terracotta brickwork, creating a pattern that resembles threads of fabric. The terracotta, concrete and earthen terrazzo with Moroccan stone fragments assure the building blends seamlessly with its surroundings. Produced by a local supplier, the bricks are made from Moroccan earth, while the terrazzo uses a combination of local stone and marble.

The interior is markedly different, evocative of the brand’s French luxury origins, featuring brass detailing, intricate timber panelling and polished stone floors. Spanning over 4000sqm, the building features a 400sqm permanent exhibition space showcasing Yves Saint Laurent’s work within an original scenography designed by Christophe Martin; a 150sqm temporary exhibition space, a 130-seat auditorium, a bookshop, café-restaurant with a terrace and a research library housing 5,000 books. In collaboration with preventative conservation specialists X-Art, precise methods for preserving textiles were put in place by the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent. The museum features an air conditioning system complete with temperature and moisture control to ensure that each item, whether a couture dress in the exhibition space or a rare book in the basement archives, remains in perfect archival condition.

Text description provided by the architects.