We had a very brave client.
They wanted a lodge and we sure wanted to design them one. But we wanted to start the thinking process from a totally different perspective…..
What if the main building has almost no walls……….?
What if people could be cooled down by the presence of long open water channels……?
Could we make them sit in the water? Would they?
Could we design a lodge that is not “lodgey” at all?
What if we do thatch roofs with sleek white “Christian Hess trusses”?
What if all of this works wonderfully well?
And it worked. For our client, but more so for the visitors – if reading the guest book is anything to go by.
The lodge (non-lodge?) is situated about 25km from the Namutoni gate of Etosha National Park on what used to be a cattle farm.
Water was the main designing element and all seems to happen in or around the water channels. One enters walking across an open water channel, up a flight of stairs with water cascading down the ramp next to you to reach the reception desk. Open timber walkways connect all the spaces and with the lack of walls the visitor is immediately aware of nature and the natural surroundings. Open water channels surround and work their way through out the entire area.
We elevated the whole complex about 1.5m above natural ground level to enhance the feeling of being in nature and allowing visitors to be able to watch game from the safety and comfort of an easy chair.
An open dining area is situated close the kitchen area, with open decks and intimate court yards ensure that everybody’s needs are catered for.
Another free standing open pavilion houses the small foot spa area where visitors are treated to relaxing foot spa and massage on checking in. Once again an open water channel surrounds this area.
A huge swimming pool connects underneath a walkway with a smaller pool with bar seats in the water next to a 22m long bar counter. A small engineering feat is the 22m long freestanding beam over the bar counter - thank you to engineer Sigi Teetz of Buhrman and Partners!
Steps lead down to the intimate (and well stocked) cellar.
An elevated viewing deck next to the swimming pool add to the game viewing experience of the visitor as the water hole is only a couple of meters away.
We opted for very simple structures, letting the surroundings be the source of drama and only framing views and letting the outside into the inside. We did opt for thatched roofs and we got Christian Hess to manufacture the most wonderful wooden trusses in whitewashed Spruce. Even the dropper substructure was painted white – ensuring a thatch roof with a twist. Floors are white cement, decking material were sourced from the area and all the colours were chosen to tie in with the natural colours of the materials used. Some walls were cladded in timber and some with local white stone.
The furniture was kept low key and minimalistic. The emphasis was on textures and muted colours. A huge impact is made by 2 Paul van Schalkwyk photographs, one about 22m long at the back of the bar and another one 18m x 3.5 m on the wall as one enters at reception. They were enlarged and printed on canvass and ensured more than few jaws to drop.
The end product was in the end much more than we could have hoped for.
We have to thank all involved – this was truly a team effort: