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View from the outside


The old Moroccan village of Tamnougalt is located in the Draa river valley, 95 kilometers south of Ouarzazate. The village’s strategic position along the old Spice Route from Timbuktu to Marrakesh made it a vibrant trading center historically. The name Tamnougalt is derived from the word for meeting point in the local Berber language, Tachelhit.

Today, Tamnougalt is a popular stop for tourists travelling to the Sahara, in part thanks to the nearby Kasbah des Caids. This kasbah used to be the seat of the local governor, further underlining Tamnougalt’s regional importance.

The historical part of Tamnougalt was built using traditional techniques and materials, such as stone, mud brick and rammed earth. The village overlooks the palm gardens along the 150 km long Draa valley starting at the edge of the Sahara and draining in the Atlantic.

To the north of the village, this part of the Draa river valley is bounded by Mount Kissane. The word kissane means “glasses” in Arabic, and the mountain got its name because it is considered to look like Moroccan style glasses of tea and a tea pot.

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Tamnougaltea, situated just to the west of Old Tamnougalt


One of the main inspirations from the trip to Morocco was the layout of the traditional ksar, a walled village with interconnected buildings, pathways who produce varying conditions of light and shade, and sizes of spaces, when moving through them. This weaving pattern is the basis for Tamnougaltea’s sequences of spaces tied together with pathways, allowing for long sight lines as well as varying spaces. Visitors are encouraged to move around the building and find their own preferred space. The conical shapes of the buildings are not only functional, but also reference the surrounding mountain landscape.

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Tamnougaltea draws inspiration from the Moroccan mint tea tradition, and its central role in Moroccan social life, where tea bars serve a function similar to European and North American bars or pubs. With this in mind, we designed a space for both tourists and locals to enjoy the traditional tea, and experience the ceremonial nature of its preparation and serving.

Internally, the spaces vary in atmosphere. Tea rooms differ in size and
height, views, light, and use of tiles. Courtyards vary in size, vegetation, shading, light, and tiles.

One of the courtyards contains an ice tea bar, from which guests can see into the tea preparation room, while regular tea is prepared and served in front of the customer.



The distribution of courtyards throughout the building creates various shading zones and conditions. Using the stack ventilation effect to let hot air escape through the ceiling, cold air is drawn in from the courtyards, cooling the interior.

The conic shape of the roof works as a vertical shaft, uses the natural air path to cool the interior, and reduces direct sunlight loads. During winter, the openings in the ceilings are closed off with glass panels, cancelling the stack ventilation effect and making the space warmer.

Local materials and building traditions meet climate solutions that are both traditional and innovative, as well as a modern expression of form.


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Floor plan





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North elevation

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South elevation

Emanuel Mettmann and Lottie Hedlund

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