Having designed numerous game lodges in and around Africa we are believed to be leaders in the field of Game Lodge Design. If you require a bush lodge design for your next development or bush lodge designed then please give us a call on +2711 7061500 to discuss the next step in fulfilling your African dream design.
Don’t forget to see the many game lodge designs in the book Made Of Africa. As bush lodge designers we are in support of companies like Magpie Studio’s, a socially conscious art collective and believe the work they do meshes art and design with meaningful commercial and social entrepreneurship by creating handcrafted art using a broad range of recycled materials.
Our Eco friendly lodge designs try to make use of green technologies and where possible local suppliers and labour.
- Passive cooling and solar heating
- Fresh African air and sunlight
- Solar hot water
- Solar electric power generation
Using natural materials in our buildings isn’t anything new. Humans and animals have been doing it for thousands of years – making shelter with renewable materials, close at hand.
LUXURY GAME LODGE DESIGN IN THE BUSH
(From Wildlife Ranching)
Everyone loves to stay at a game lodge – so much so that it’s not unusual for clients to ask professional game lodge designer Gareth Williams-Wynn to bring the familiar rustic, earth-toned ambience into their homes. But whether you’re building on a concession or you’ve inherited a farm and you want to commercialise it, how do you bring those Out of Africa moments to life?
Williams-Wynn has spent 25 years specialising in game-lodge design and it is his job to walk his clients through what is achievable in terms of budget and resources available. He cautions developers against jumping in with both feet on the strength of having had a plan drawn up or copied. “The design process is a complex one and you need the right experts to give you the right advice, whether it’s about registering a township, preparing legal traversing rights or conservancy documents, having an environmental impact assessment done or hiring fire or air-conditioning consultants. Gone are the days when just anyone can submit plans and build what they like: laws exist to protect the public under the Built Environment Act. An architect can give you the right tools with which to negotiate with a builder and advise you about both the financial and technical aspects of your project.”
Williams-Wynn says it is important to have realistic expectations, particularly when it comes to return on investment – if you have your target market right, a 15-20% return after about three to five years is possible. “That said, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” he says. “Start by knowing what you want to achieve and which business plan is going to work best for you.”
Also, be very sure you’re comfortable with the initial capital outlay if you’re planning to commercialise your venture – you can expect to pay in the vicinity of R1m per room if you do it right, but that depends on chalet style or shared walls.
Target markets vary widely so design must be planned accordingly. “Hunters would have different requirements and expectations to tourists – local hunters will be vastly different from international trophy hunters; bow-hunters will have different needs again,” he says. “Designing a hunting lodge is different to a commercial camp – you’re catering for men who probably like to rough it in the bush and will care more about eating and drinking in the boma than whether their room has certain amenities.”
A game-lodge designer must keep in mind both the most basic requirements and the highest aesthetic concerns. “If you’re building in a remote area, you need to think about services,” says Williams-Wynn. “Is electricity available? Are there overhead power lines (giraffes can get electrocuted if these are present and not to spec)? If there’s no electricity, will silent generators work (to avoid noise pollution)? Must diesel be bought in bulk and stored? What would the cost be compared to gas, and how would that be supplied? What about water – is it clean and how would you pump it? Could you save and repurify it? What sewerage management system will be used? Is it aerobic or anaerobic? In effect, you have to become your own municipality.”
Williams-Wynn designs eco-friendly lodges using natural materials when possible. “Our new energy-efficiency regulations must be complied with – think energy-efficient lighting and biodegradable materials like bamboo,” he says. “A lot of organisations say they’ve gone ‘green’, but have they really? Sustainability is a crucial issue.”
Bear in mind you’re designing a lifestyle, not just a building. “Think about what your guests will expect,” says Williams-Wynn. Trends change and today’s game-lodge visitor tends to want six-star luxury in the bush with a return to the old Colonial feel – solid wood (not easy to acquire in southern Africa), high-quality fabrics, leather, silver, faux skins, objets d’art. Thankfully there has been a decorative shift away from overtly African design, like masks and African animals. In addition, visitors tend to expect privacy and an escape from city living while still appreciating staff attention: watching a chef prepare dinner or being pampered in a bush spa, for example.
What has not changed is the fact that African architecture is all about the elements and about what works best in the bush. “We try to unsettle the bush as little as possible – we design around trees, rocks and so on,” says Williams-Wynn. “It is better not to remove anything. In fact, when we visit a site for the first time, we try to get a sense of what is already there – we listen to the bush. Yes, a building is a shell to protect you from the elements, animals or other people, but it is also about your aspirations and what kind of lifestyle you want to create or portray.”
Building styles depend upon regional variables – is an area particularly hot, is there a lot of rain? In the Southern hemisphere it is a design law under the new SANS 10400 energy laws that ALL buildings must be north facing. The misconception that in the Lowveldt you should face south because it is so hot is still commonly heard. Williams-Wynn is big on making use of local resources and materials as far as possible and lodges tend to reflect those earthy elements that make the bush so special: earth-tones; grass, mud, sticks and trees; an abundance of natural light. Williams-Wynn says thatch is still popular but because it is expensive to install and maintain it is not quite as in demand as before. “It is a lovely material to use, however – you can flatten and twist it, moulding it to meet your design requirements,” he says.
The minimum points you need to know about commissioning a game lodge or game reserve design:
- Be very clear about what and why you are building and who your target market is.
- An architect can advise you about which business model will suit you given your budget and requirements.
- SHAPE governs cost, NOT surface area. The next time you hear someone quote work on Rands per meter squared, walk away. Let me try to explain by simple logic. The building has a total size of 100m2. The first shape is round (rondavel), the next a square 10m x 10m, a regular rectangle say 20m x 5m wide, and then let’s be crazy and say 100m long by 1m wide. As mentioned each building is 100m2 in area but let’s measure the wall lengths (1.Square, 10 + 10 + 10 + 10= 40 lineal meters. 2. Rectangle A, 20 + 5 + 20 + 5 = 50 lm and rectangle B, 100 + 1 + 100 + 1 =200 lm. How can the building shape have the same rate applied? It is a lot more complicated than this but hopefully you get the idea. However you do not need to restrict yourself to shapes of squares and rectangles. Any architect worth his or her salt is best trained to ensure your budget is maximised to the building shape and will talk you through.
- Under the Architectural Act of 2000 your design must be submitted by a registered professional and be listed on the professional roll. You can check their credentials by contacting SACAP (South African Council for Architectural Professionals)
- In the basic chalet layout supplied above one can see that the unit does not have to be too boring to be cost efficient. By supplying cooking facilities on each private patio this design may now suit international hunters. For general meat hunters (local) a more centralized and communal area would be better suited.
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