Margosa Hotel Tel Aviv

Urban courtyard hotel in Tel Aviv – Jaffa inspired by Jaffa’s Orange orchards.

Jaffa, the southern quarter of Tel Aviv, and its oldest part, is a highly growing area in the city scape and life, uniquely giving space to a wide range of cultures and activities, presenting a solid model of conviviality in mixed-cultures contexts.

Jaffa is not a holy city and has no monuments of worldwide importance, but it is diverse, cosmopolitan and interesting.
There is the sea, beaches, harbor, flea market, old city, alleys, arches, vaults, roofs, unique pink plaster, limestone, marble pillars, lots of cedar from Lebanon, painted tiles and lattice work (mashrabiya).
It has many kinds of people and religions: Jews, Muslims, Christians, Maronites, Copts, Catholics, Greeks grew up Orthodox, Greek Catholics and secularists, poor, rich, immigrants, locals, pilgrims and tourists.
It has many flavors and smells: fish, hummus, musabaha, pita bread, hyssop, lemon, baklawa, coffee and so on.
But above all, Jaffa is known for its oranges JAFFA, local variety – Shamuti.
(and maybe what unify in modern times all these diversities)

The building history itself is very interesting, it is actually build in a place where till 90 years used to be an orchard. We thought this was a challenging kickstart for the design. Infact, by the relation with the orchards, we wanted the hotel to present and symbolize the beauty and magic of the context, not only by traditional motives, but through a combination of elements from the variety of cultures living in Jaffa and from different times, to become a beginning of a new open-minded approach to the context.

The hotel is structured over 4 floors, divided into public spaces and private rooms. The rooms are developed along the curved contour of the building, all facing the street with an inhabitable terrace, whilst the public spaces are facing the courtyard, a green public cafè area with orange trees, integrating local city life with tourism and guests.

From the entrance, through the public spaces and to the rooms and showers, the floors are all covered with floral custom made concrete tiles, inspired by Jaffa’s traditional painted tiles, but with a contemporary random geometry. The dominant green floor was a key element to continuously unify all the spaces of the hotel.

In each room, a standalone concrete table structure, sealed with Tadlakt plaster (traditional water resistant pressed plaster) is dividing between the sleeping and shower (wet) zones, allowing no walls divisions in the room and an open atmosphere.

Furniture in the rooms were cnc sculptured locally out of worn-out cedar solid wood, recuperated from ancient constructions in jaffa. Beyond its structural qualities and appearance, the cedar enriches the rooms with a spectacular odors of nature.

Traditional mashrabiya concept is used to create custom curtains, allowing filtered light to come in form the holes during daytime, but reflecting it through its full parts, blocking the sight from outside.

In each of Jaffa’s orchard lots there were limestone structures, sealed with plaster to be used as wells, ponds and irrigation canals, which led water to each of the orchard trees.
The orchard soil was covered with carpets of spring flowers similar to those described Botticelli’s painting “La Primavera”.
The smell of the flowers mingled with the intoxicating odors of citrus trees blossom resulting in a pastoral atmosphere that could only be created in orchards.
This pastoral atmosphere is what we were trying to recover and weave everywhere in the hotel: By the floral paving, the structures on which basing are placed to define the showers, a variety mashrabiya, the filtered natural light, soft coloring and tints, natural materials, old photographs of Jaffa, its orchards, its characters and liberated atmosphere.

Photography: Shai Epstein