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Finally: A Game Lodge Design That Considers The Animals

A bold design in one of South Africa's hottest areas works with the wildlife, rather than against it.

10/01/2018 13:09 SAST | Updated 10/01/2018 13:35 SAST

You would expect designing a home in a wildlife reserve to require some interaction and consideration between the architect and the natural habitat. Unfortunately, many designers erect projects in a natural setting without context.

Not so with Architects For Justice, who have created a pioneering safari lodge that works in harmony with native wildlife for a client with a bold, holistic vision.

The client approached Architects Of Justice to design a retreat he could disappear too, that would also accommodate extended visits to the bush with the entire family. The Mjejane site opens onto a view of the Crocodile River on the north boundary with a green belt on its eastern edge. This is how we developed the concept for the project. #thestoryofMjejane #aplaceofrest #ArchitectsofJustice #AoJ #Mjejane #Mjejaneproject #journeyofanarchitect #architectureinpractice #processofdesign #architecturalconcept #architecturedrawing #architecturesketch #architecturedesign #architecturedetails #architecturedetail #architecturaldesign #architectureproject #architectural #architecture #architexture #architettura #interiordesign

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Situated in Mjejane private game reserve near South Africa's famous Kruger National Park, the design, which was lead by Kuba Granicki, had to work around elephants, warthogs and even bats to realise its unusual structure.

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Jutting out from the walls is an impressive light-steel roof that extends into a 13-metre butterfly cantilever, creating the impression of an unsupported roof over the boma structure -- a floating sculptural intervention hovering in the landscape.

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But the roof isn't just about aesthetics.

During the design process, the architects discovered there could be no openings in the roof, or animals would set up homes within the space. The area beneath the suspended timber deck also meant the architects had to seal up the space to prevent warthogs settling underneath the house.

Offsite steel fabrication allowed for a very clean assembly process on site of our project at Mjejane Private Game Reserve (bolted connections) meaning that very little welding took place on site. The steel roof arrived in four parts, which was logistically possible as the manufacturer was located just over an hour away from site. A four-phase erection meant we did not need to clear bushveld for material storage. #thestoryofMjejane #aplaceofrest #ArchitectsofJustice #AoJ #Mjejane #Mjejaneproject #journeyofanarchitect #architectureinpractice #processofdesign #architecturelife #africanarchitecture #africandesign #architectureinafrica #southafricanarchitects #southafricanarchitecture #architecturephotos #architecturedesign #architecturedetails #architecturedetail #home #house #design #construction #constructionsite #sitevisit

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"Another major challenge was that it could rain and then flood in the green belt. In one moment, if the floods should happen, the whole property could be destroyed. The view was hugely important, and the site can also get to temperatures above 43 degrees Celsius, so there is a climate that we also had to carefully plan around," Granicki says.

The result of this holistic approach brings another layer to typical South African lodge architecture.

"The old giant lapa style of big lodge architecture hasn't evolved that much," says Granicki. "But we allowed the site to inspire the thing, and I'm incredibly proud of the project."