the site for this architects of justice-designed project, situated within the mjejane private game reserve in south africa, opens onto a view of the crocodile river on the north boundary with a green belt on its eastern edge. the retreat was designed to maximise the connection to nature and wild game, while ensuring privacy between the five en-suite bedrooms as well as the neighbouring lodges. the rigorous estate guidelines motivated the architects to design around the existing flora on the site, which led to a freeform design that required only three trees to be replanted. 


the retreat was designed to maximise the connection to nature while ensuring privacy between the five en-suite bedrooms as well as the neighbouring lodges

 

 

project architect granicki of architects of justice worked on an unconventional and innovative retreat concept for the client, who immediately approved it. the surrounding nature provided its own unique set of challenges; there could be no openings or entries into the roof void, as it would provide the ideal habitat for a myriad of animals to take up residence within this space, and measures had to be taken to prevent warthogs residing underneath the suspended wooden deck on the north of the site. the crowning jewel of the house is a floating steel roof that overhangs the house on every side with a minimum overhang of 1,6m. at its maximum, the roof overhang extends in an impressive 13m butterfly cantilever creating a seemingly unsupported roof over a boma. the total roof area for the 450m² residence totalled at an impressive 900m² allowing inside spaces to blend effortlessly with the outside.


for the interior, the idea was to not obstruct the user from the surrounding nature, and as such, huge glass windows, doors and fin walls constantly connect and direct the user to the outside bush

 

 

‘initially, the roof was to be concrete and planted,’ notes granicki. ‘after the client eventually decided against the use of a green roof due to concerns of maintenance for what was to be primarily a low-maintenance holiday home, the concept was redeveloped with a steel roof that would be lighter and quicker to erect on site. with this construction methodology, we still managed to obtain cantilevers all round on the roof and an open span lounge/dining room of more than 100m2, with no columns to obscure the view over the pool and surrounding bushveld.’ the steel roof overhangs helped design a passively cooled home which mitigates heat gain by shading the exteriors throughout the day in an area of the country that often reaches 30 degrees celsius in winter and well over 40 degrees celsius in summer.


at its maximum, the roof overhang extends in an impressive 13m butterfly cantilever creating a seemingly unsupported roof over a boma

 

 

off-site fabrication allowed for a very clean assembly process on site, and bolted connections meant that very little welding took place on site. a four phase lgo-set type erection also meant that there was no need to clear and disturb the natural bushveld for storage of building materials. in the interior, the idea was to not obstruct the user from the surrounding nature, and as such, huge glass windows, doors and fin walls constantly connect and direct the user to the outside bush. the placement of the windows facilitates a constant flood of light on the hand polished concrete floors and simple plaster walls, while angled ceilings facilitate natural airflows and complement other sustainable features of the project (such as rainwater harvesting from the extensive roof structure).


the retreat is context driven, fitting the client’s requirements to be able to connect with nature

 

 

the architect notes that while the home is definitely a modern take on architecture, there is still an earthen quality to its finishes as a result of some of the techniques of the local contractor. in this private lodge at mjejane private game reserve, the architects have created a structure which rests elegantly in the surroundings. it is a home which while being architecturally innovative, does not distract from the location of the project and draws the user’s attention to the outside. 


the rigorous estate guidelines motivated the architects to design around the existing flora on the site, which led to a freeform design that required only three trees to be replanted


the crowning jewel of the house is a floating steel roof that overhangs the house on every side with a minimum overhang of 1.6m


as the client comes from a mining background, the home reflects a ‘from the earth’ narrative, and an almost industrial approach


the steel roofs helped design a passively cooled home which mitigates heat gain by shading the exteriors throughout the day


off-site roof fabrication allowed for a very clean assembly process on-site


the placement of the windows facilitates a constant flood of light on the hand polished concrete floors and simple plaster walls

 

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: lynn chaya | designboom

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