‘Touch the earth lightly’ was the guiding principle behind the design of this luxurious eco-lodge. The lodge’s 15 suites ‘hang’ from a sheer rock cliff, overlooking the confluence of the Nwanetsi and Sweni rivers.
One of the major challenges in designing the structure was realising the architectural vision with sustainable materials. Each suite is built from bleached wood and glass, supported on wooden stilts. These are connected to the rock with steel plates to minimise the amount of concrete used. Floor to ceiling glass, shaded by a slatted roof of woven branches, allow uninterrupted views of the surrounding bush.
The Arup team settled on compacted earth for the solid walls. Using layers of differently coloured earth created patterns in the walls, giving an organic feel to the interior. Timber was sourced from local plantations, with steelwork kept to a minimum. Rocks from the construction of local roads were used in the cladding.
When the building is no longer needed, the compacted earth walls can be broken down easily and returned to the hillside, leaving no trace. In the meantime, the lodge not only provides an exclusive holiday destination, but also employment for the local community.