Serge Santelli was born in 1944 in Paris, and received a Master of Architecture and City Planning degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970. He worked in the atelier of Louis Kahn before becoming an assistant professor at the Institut Technologique d'Art in Tunis. Since 1973, he has taught at the Ecole d'Architecture de Paris-Belleville and has been responsible for the "Habitat au Maghreb" workshop since 1985. In addition to a number of projects in France, Tunisia and Senegal, Santelli has researched and published numerous articles on Arab and-Islamic architecture and urbanism in North Africa and more particularly on the traditional and contemporary habitat of that region. He received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1983 for the Residence Andalous in Tunisia. Serge Santelli is the architect of the Lakeside Cafe in Azhar Park, Cairo (2004).
Recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1983.
Traditional Tunisian domestic architecture consists of one- or two-level houses arranged around courtyards or patios. To achieve a contemporary expression of these indigenous arrangements for this hotel, the architect created an ordered series of symmetrical interior courtyards connected along a main longitudinal axis, from which secondary axes open. The hotel courtyards are paved, and are entered by two or four porticoes. All are simply ornamented by delicate ceramic decoration in the form of banding and panels. The innermost courtyards, some of them planted with orange trees or jasmine, have the intimate quality of private gardens. Water is the most important element. As in all the great Arabo-Islamic landscapes, it fills pools, runs off through little channels and jets forth in fountains under pergolas. Covered walkways and galleries offer shade. The jury found particularly praiseworthy "the restraint with which materials and forms have been used, and the subdued nature of the colour scheme which enable this group of buildings to achieve its imagery whilst avoiding pastiche."