Reinventing traditional safari-style architecture

SA Building ReviewVolume 8 2020

Reinventing traditional safari-style architecture
The new Cheetah Plains game lodge in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in the Kruger National Park in South Africa, reinvents traditional safari-style architecture to create an altogether new safari experience of nature from within.
Designed by ARRCC, the lodge combines state-of-the-art sustainable architecture with a pioneering afro-minimalist aesthetic. Cheetah Plains contrasts confident contemporary inorganic forms with the natural landscape, creating something beautiful in the unexpected creative contrast of seemingly opposing forces.

‘Our lifestyles are modern; nature is raw and primal. It is in that honest contrast that a beautiful tension exists,’ says ARRCC lead architect, Stefan Antoni. ‘The architecture exists to enhance the experience of the outdoors - not to mimic it, but to complement it so that guests may experience the bush more directly, more immediately.’

The Plains Houses

The lodge’s accommodation is split into three separate, private components referred to as the Plains Houses. These, in turn, are made up of clusters of free-standing buildings, rather than the typical lodge typology of a central communal space surrounded by bedroom suites.

Each Plains House has a private arrival courtyard with covered canopy, an expansive open-plan lounge, dining and bar space with adjoining airconditioned wine room and a private family and media room. These communal living spaces are each surrounded by four standalone bedroom suites, almost large enough to be considered mini-lodges in their own right. The bedrooms suites each have a generous open-plan lounge and bedroom space, plus guest toilet and a walk-in dressing room. The bathrooms open directly to the outdoors, offering an exhilarating open-air bathing experience.

The outdoor features woven into the spaces around each Plains House include a boma area, an expansive terrace and a heated pool. Sculptural raw, rusted steel pool pavilions, inspired by the canopy of the local Tamboti tree, filter dappled light through their cantilevered branches. Each house is also equipped with a commercial kitchen with a dedicated chef.

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Volume 8 2020