Cheetah Plains safari lodge surrounds wildlife lovers with rustic "Afro-minimalist" charm
Rather than retiring from a day of elephant spotting to a four-walled hotel room with a window or two, safari guests of the South Africa's Cheetah Plains Game Lodge will have plenty of opportunities for extracurricular connections with nature. The retreat tastefully treads a line between the natural and the man-made, with the designers pursuing what they called an Afro-minimalism aesthetic through a careful balancing of simplicity and locally inspired touches of style.
The Cheetah Plains Game Lodge by Cape Town-based studio ARRCC is located within the Sabi Sand reserve, a South African wildlife sanctuary where leopards, lions, elephants, buffalo and rhino roam freely. The retreat consists of three private houses, each made up of clusters of free-standing buildings arranged carefully around natural features such as trees and topography.
These four-bedroom suites feature a private arrival courtyard, communal living space, dining and bar space, an air-conditioned wine room, terrace spaces and a heated pool. To really drive home the luxury factor, there's a commercial kitchen in each of the three houses, each with a dedicated chef and culinary team. On the sustainable side of things, the retreat claims to be entirely off-grid through its use of solar power, while grey water recycling helps lessen the load on local supplies.
According to the ARRCC team, it designed the Cheetah Plains lodges in pursuit of a new "Afro-minimalism." Rather than replicating the outdoors entirely, this entails a subtle mish-mash of organic shapes mixed with straighter lines of the artificial elements, influenced by decidedly minimalist architectural styles.
"We blended Japanese and Scandinavian functionality and style infused with African components to create our Afro-minimalism," the architects explain to New Atlas. "We wanted to create an African spiritual awareness of the bush and therefore created simplicity by narrowing down our finishes and simplifying our architectural components. Using concrete and rocks from a local quarry maintained the integrity of the building while the rusted metals added to its 'African' rustic charm. Rawness with architecture and a touch of comfort and beauty in the décor."
Using nature as a guide, the furniture and design pieces featured throughout were crafted by hand rather than mass produced, with the finished product often determined by natural state of the materials the designers used as a starting point.
"For example, massive, solid tree stumps and raw timber, we followed and adhered to the organic forms of these source materials," say the architects. "Take for example the dining table, it is composed of two solid and massive timber planks hewn directly from the tree, the raw, undulating, live edge of the timber where the bark creates the outer skin was left natural and therefore the outline of the table edge wavers naturally as dictated by the tree."
In keeping with the nature theme, the team has sought to minimize the boundaries of the houses to blur the lines between inside and out. To that end, floor-to-ceiling windows features heavily throughout, while cantilevered roofing helps to avoid the need for support structures that might otherwise impede the views of the surrounds. The hope is that with time, the lodge will age gracefully and gradually strengthen its ties with the African landscape.
"We worked with many natural and often raw materials that will age and deepen in character over time," the architects tell us. "These materials reflect the natural surrounds and authentic primal beauty of the location."