SAFARI

Zimbabwe 2017

Welcome to our 8th international ideas and design competition. For this challenge, we invited the creative comunity to take an architectural safari into one of the wildest, most exciting and beautiful unique corners of Southern Africa: UNESCO’s Matobo National Park in Zimbabwe. In Swahili, the word ‘safari’ means journey, and this is exactly where we went through our competition: a journey into the romance and adventure of the wild, into the customs, local rituals and the beating heart of Africa through your senses. The outcome of this journey? A new super sensory safari lodge concept the likes of which the world has never seen before, nestled in the heart of Matobo’s granite rock formations and mysterious ancient rock paintings.

This competition was run in partnership with award winning safari company African Bush Camps. Their world famous lodges are located in some the most fascinating, wild and remote landscapes found in Southern Africa, from Zimbabwe to Botswana and Zambia. The winning team won a week long super sensory safari compliments of African Bush Camps and got to experience the adventure of exploring the exhilarating Zimbabwean landscape with some of the worlds best guides.

Matobo National Park is a small biosphere pocket south of Zimbabwe’s second largest city Bulawayo. It’s famous for its undulating hills riddled with monolithic granite boulders which hold within them fascinating and mysterious caves filled with ancient Bushmen rock paintings. The park is also a sanctuary for the endangered Black and White Rhino population and is, therefore, a key hub in the conservation efforts of this rare animal. Aside from the rhinos, the park is home to a whole variety of African wildlife. All in all, made Matobo a magical safari location to dive deep into the natural and cultural wonders Zimbabwe has to offer.

The aim of this competition was to imagine a new safari lodge for Matobo: one which blended traditional wildlife adventure activities with new ones linked with culture, tradition and conservation, and one which allows the visitor to experience its unique context fully. We were looking for a super sensory safari lodge, the first one in the world, which uses design as a pivotal part of the experience. How can architecture become a mechanism for experiencing the adventure, magic and romance of a safari in Matobo? The creative comunity has responded.

* This competition was also run to raise awareness of African Bush Camps Foundation, a charity which our safari partners run in parallel to their ventures in support of local culture, education and conservation.


winner

SOJOURN

Erik Knauss & Jacob Southard
(USA)

The jury winner and the people’s choice of this challenge takes us on a super sensory journey through four sites, each designed to correspond and reflect their changing surrounds. The project respects and integrates itself beautifully into its natural surroundings and takes inspiration from natural forms and structures found locally. The design focuses on creating different experiences, views and activities for the user and utilises its surrounding with low lying buildings and natural looking woven observation towers. The design even incorporates a conservation memorial creating awareness for local conservation issues. The project is very well thought out and would be a fantastic place to experience the beauty of Matobo National Park.

runner up

Regenerative Huts

Abhishek Desai
(India)

This project focuses on the two main aspects of Matobo National Parks, the endangered Rhinos and the granite rocks. Its aim is to create an intimate observatory lodge where guests can secretly interact with the rhinos, while respecting their natural surroundings. The project cleverly dissolves into the park’s rock formations while the traditional beautiful circular structures of the lodges allow for uninterrupted views of the park and its wildlife. The design’s main aim is to allow users to interact with the environment while having as little impact on it as possible.


Honourable Mentions:

SANCTOBO

Joanna Lisiak
(Poland)

This project’s main aim is to create a sanctuary among the Matobo hills and produce a spiritual understanding alongside the traditional safari experience. The monolithic granite rock formations are reflected in the design, which includes a sequence of passages that allow guests to reach the core of the lodge. This sensitive design allows the user to connect and engage with the environment on more that one level.

Matobo Cave Safari Lodge

Anete Egle & Mensun Yellowlees-Bound
(UK, Latvia)

Cleverly mimicking the surrounding environment, this interesting design is based on a combination of cave systems and African style mud huts, in the form of domes reflecting the Matobo Hills scenery. Using natural local building materials and techniques, this design provides an immersive experience for the guests to explore the structures and their environment while allowing them to discreetly merge into their surrounds.

Khumalo Stone Ecolodge

Hitesh Mehta & Matthew Lewis
(USA)

This beautifully drawn and presented project provides guests with an authentic holistic experience. Situated on a communal farmland on the edge of Matobo National Park, the design aims at give guests a much broader and immersive interaction with the local community and the surrounding nature. It does so by introducing guests to local symbology, customs, rituals, history, vernacular construction techniques, architectural forms, tradition, cuisine, and wildlife conservation. The result is a full immersive, well-rounded multi-sensory experience blending nature with culture.

The Kuahirisha Lodge

Jordan Felber & Rachele Voigt
(USA)

This ‘floating’ lodge design provides an intimate escape as well as a fantastic viewing platform for the user to enjoy Matobo. The stilt design is very respectful of its surroundings, creating minimal impact on the environment as well as a very flexible module able to adapt to it’s surroundings. The luxury has not been overlooked either, each lodge includes a romantic balcony and infinity pools offering unprecedented views of the park. The communal area is situated at the top of the hill, allowing guests to experience priviledged views over dinner or a sundowner … or two.

ONE-ROOF-LIVING

Yoshiki Sekikawa & Shota Kobayashi
(Japan)

This contemporary design turns the safari lodge itself into a dynamic viewing platform designed to encase and incorporate its natural surroundings, creating a minimal impact on the environment. Clever use of the natural rocks have been used not just for structure but for thermal warmth in the cooler months.  The concept allows the animals to become lodge residences, providing well needed shade and water for them, bringing the wildlife right to the door of the guests and a unique viewing perspective.

SMART LODGE

Constantin Riekehr
(Germany)

Housed within the granite rock formations, this lodge aims at giving its guests a panoramic view over the park while allowing them to experience the raw natural beauty of their surroundings. Photovoltaics on each dwelling provides electricity, lighting and additional heating, making each building independent and self-sufficient. This design creates an intimate hillside retreat that allows guests to experience the beauty of Matobo’s rock formations first hand.


people's choice

SOJOURN

Erik Knauss & Jacob Southard
(USA)

The jury winner and the people’s choice of this challenge takes us on a super sensory journey through four sites, each designed to correspond and reflect their changing surrounds. The project respects and integrates itself beautifully into its natural surroundings and takes inspiration from natural forms and structures found locally. The design focuses on creating different experiences, views and activities for the user and utilises its surrounding with low lying buildings and natural looking woven observation towers. The design even incorporates a conservation memorial creating awareness for local conservation issues. The project is very well thought out and would be a fantastic place to experience the beauty of Matobo National Park.


Explore all the other amazing entries:


Jury:

Meet our panel of world class experts and fellow designers:

Derek Solomon

Animal Behaviour and Communication Specialist / Author / Private Guide

Derek Solomon

Animal Behaviour and Communication Specialist / Author / Private Guide

"I look forward to seeing an innovative design that not only blends into the amazing granite outcrops of the Matobo Hills, but follows environmentally sound practises and leads guests down the path of true appreciation of nature through all the senses!"

Derek Solomon’s passion for wildlife developed during his early school years. Now an avid birder and animal behaviour specialist, he has been leading tailor-made safaris for over 30 years in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia.  He enjoys sharing his knowledge and has been actively involved with training safari guides in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Derek’s main interests are wildlife sound recording, photography and animal behaviour. He has published several books on birds and mammals and he is now using his extensive collection of sound recordings and photographs to publish a series of digital books and apps.

Sound plays a very important part of his safari activities. Whilst the ability to hear and interpret what one hears is second nature to people such as the San or Bushmen of the Kalahari or the pygmy’s in the Congo, our sense of hearing has taken a back seat as we rely more and more on our sense of sight to discover and interpret our world. Now with the use of individual headphones each linked to sophisticated microphones, Derek introduces everyone to the sounds of the bush, amplifying the rumbles of elephants, whoops of hyenas and roars of lions to the multitude of birds, frogs and insects, providing guests with a safari experience like no other. Listening to the voices of the natural world makes you realise that sound is more evocative than any other sense.

Derek is one of the three specialist guides on next years the Super Sensory Safaris in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools.

Rob Janisch

Biomimicry and Genius of Nature Guru / Private Guide

Rob Janisch

Biomimicry and Genius of Nature Guru / Private Guide

"An African safari is an educational experience, and yet so often the actual safari lodges themselves are more about the thread-count of the towels & the size of the rooms than about continuing the educational process of this unique travel experience.  Safari lodge design of the future should look to convey the surrounding natural design & biological principles in a holistic, educational & experiential way…  what if a safari lodge operated like a natural organism or community - how different would it look & feel?"

Born & raised in Africa, Rob has a natural affinity with all things wild.  With 20 years of experience in some of Africa’s remotest wilderness areas, he has come to appreciate the intricate detail of nature’s genius first-hand.  He is a Biomimicry field expert for Africa with much experience in innovation through natural design, both material and metaphorical.  Rob is based in Zimbabwe leading safaris & nature immersion workshops throughout Africa & the rest of the natural world.

Chris Browne

Owner, Fox Browne Creative

Chris Browne

Owner, Fox Browne Creative

"We are looking for innovative, designs that balance the needs of todays ever increasingly demanding and well travelled luxury adventure traveler, with the challenge of creating extraordinary guest experiences using sustainable solutions in remote and sensitive destinations."

Owners Debra Fox and Chris Browne create lasting value  through the  artful and seamless merging of design, architecture and hospitality services in the luxury sector of the hospitality industry.

Fox Browne Creative offers direction and assistance for the development of luxury lodges and small hotels.  We have 50 years combined experience in luxury tourism and travel having designed, built, project managed, styled, opened and operated over 60 award winning lodges in some of the most remote parts of Africa and India..  Between us we have tackled and overcome just about every challenge imaginable and more importantly, we have loved every day creating beautiful guest experiences.

Our philosophy in both design and operations is very simple - it is all about the guests and what they will experience whilst staying there. We have a deep understanding of what works and what doesn’t when creating and operating a product for the luxury international traveller. There are many hundreds of extraordinary experiences across the world and the marketplace is extremely competitive and will only get tougher as the traveller becomes more demanding especially considering the prices they are paying. Today’s luxury traveller seeks truth, soul and meaning.

ABOUT CHRIS:

In Short: Better business through creativity
  • Owner Fox Browne Creative
  • Travel junkie
  • Winner of 2015 Gold Key Designer of the year
  • Hospitality Design Award - Winner 2015 Open Category http://www.hospitalitydesign.com/static/content_images/HD_Awards
  • Winner of We Are Africa Innovation Awards – Design Africa 2015
  • Short listed for the We are Africa, innovation awards - Design Africa 2016 http://www.weareafricatravel.com/design-africa/
  • Voted one of the top 50 hotel designers in the world by Andrew Martin for 3 years running
  • Work featured in Architectural Digest, Elle Decoration (French and UK), House and Garden and more
  • Ranked as best Small Hotel Designer in the world by Travel & Leisure magazine
  • Creative Director- &Beyond Travel- created the aesthetic of the &Beyond Brand across all guest touch points for 15 years – from 1996 to 2010
  • Part of the team that built the company form 4 lodges to 40 lodges during that time.
  • Designed and opened 50 lodges across Africa and India during those 15 years
  • Discovered, sourced and explored India to create 4 exquisite jungle lodges
  • Managed branding, collateral design, interior design and architectural briefs
  • Worked in 9 countries across Africa, India, UK, USA, Latin and South America and Middle East
  • I always maintain a sense of humour in my design

Debra Fox

Owner, Fox Browne Creative

Debra Fox

Owner, Fox Browne Creative

"We are looking for innovative, designs that balance the needs of todays ever increasingly demanding and well travelled luxury adventure traveler, with the challenge of creating extraordinary guest experiences using sustainable solutions in remote and sensitive destinations."

Owners Debra Fox and Chris Browne create lasting value  through the  artful and seamless merging of design, architecture and hospitality services in the luxury sector of the hospitality industry.

Fox Browne Creative offers direction and assistance for the development of luxury lodges and small hotels.  We have 50 years combined experience in luxury tourism and travel having designed, built, project managed, styled, opened and operated over 60 award winning lodges in some of the most remote parts of Africa and India..  Between us we have tackled and overcome just about every challenge imaginable and more importantly, we have loved every day creating beautiful guest experiences.

Our philosophy in both design and operations is very simple - it is all about the guests and what they will experience whilst staying there. We have a deep understanding of what works and what doesn’t when creating and operating a product for the luxury international traveller. There are many hundreds of extraordinary experiences across the world and the marketplace is extremely competitive and will only get tougher as the traveller becomes more demanding especially considering the prices they are paying. Today’s luxury traveller seeks truth, soul and meaning.

ABOUT DEBRA:

In Short: Bridging the gap between operations and design
  • Owner Fox Browne Creative
  • Veteran Hotelier/ Service crazy!
  • Winner of 2015 Gold Key Designer of the year
  • Hospitality Design Award - Winner 2015 Open Category http://www.hospitalitydesign.com/static/content_images/HD_Awards
  • Winners of We are Africa Innovation awards 2015
  • Short listed for the We are Africa, innovation awards -Design Africa 2016 http://www.weareafricatravel.com/design-africa/
  • Built and operated Ngorongoro Crater Lodge – voted he best hotel in Africa for two years running and ( 2nd best hotel in the world) - Conde Nast Traveller 2004/5
  • Won various sustainability awards for the operating ethos of &Beyond whilst Chief Operating Officer
  • Chief Operating Officer for &Beyond 2000 - 2009 – largest experiential travel company in world
  • Operated 40 lodges, 8 ground handling offices, 7 countries, 2 continents, 2500 staff
  • Managed a successful commercial business responsible for the guest experience
  • Drove a guest centric culture across two continents and 2000 staff
  • Tested, cooked and documented 4000 recipes to deliver consistently good food across all the lodges.
  • International experience- worked in 7 countries across Africa, in India, Latin America, Middle East
  • 24 years at the coal face of operations
  • I am passionate about Guests and the staff who take care of them

Charlene Hewat

CEO, Environment Africa

Charlene Hewat

CEO, Environment Africa

"I am so excited to see what architects put together to see the linkage between nature and the proposed development in Matopos, a unique area of Zimbabwe. What a great project which I am privileged to be part of."

A highly respected, experienced environmental conservationist, who has dedicated the past 28 years to her country, Zimbabwe, to improving and uplifting communities lives through her strong belief in developing self sustainability and to the protection and conservation of the environment. Her early experiences of growing up on a farm in Zimbabwe instilled a deep love of nature and out of this was born her passion for the environment. Whilst out on a walk in the bush some 30 years ago, she came across the carcass of a poached rhino and it was this traumatic experience that started her on the path to where she is today. She decided something needed to be done to raise awareness and to raise funds for rhino conservation in Zimbabwe.

In 1986, together with a friend, Julie Edwards, she completed a 22,000km bicycle ride, which took them from the UK across Europe and Africa back to Zimbabwe. This journey was recorded and published in a book ‘Extinction is Forever’ and Charlene is still affectionately known and recognised today, as ‘The Rhino Girl’.

In 1990 Charlene co-founded Environment 2000, later rebranded Environment Africa and has grown the organisation to one that works with all sectors of society in Zimbabwe, and neighbouring Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. As CEO of Environment Africa she is responsible for Policy, Planning and Executive Management, and has led and motivated the organisation through challenging economic, political and social challenges. The organisation facilitates projects, which encompass raising environmental awareness, the protection, conservation and management of natural resources and promoting sustainable development through self-empowerment.

Beks Ndlovu

CEO, African Bush Camps

Beks Ndlovu

CEO, African Bush Camps

“I look forward to seeing design innovation and creative thinking that respects the environment and the wild, as well as a design that speaks of the art of service and offers guests an authentic safari experience in the untamed African wilderness. I would like to see facilities that enable guests to experience an authentic view of the old ‘untouched’ Africa, with minimal impact on the environment, and, of course, that wow factor.”

Beks Ndlovu was born in the small rural village of Lupane, on the outskirts of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. His formative years spent in the bush ingrained a passion for wildlife and conservation that has been burning since. Beks qualified as a professional guide in 1999 and spent some time learning the industry before his roots called him home to Hwange National Park. Beks had a dream to create a portfolio of camps which not only reincarnated the fantasy of ‘Old Untouched Africa’ but also focused on the guest experience and the essence of a great safari, exceptional guides. In 2006, African Bush Camps, offering bespoke safaris in luxury tented camps, was born. Beks believed that the safari experience would not have been complete without the interaction of local people and communities. Beks wanted to create a fully immersive safari experience, where guests could get to know and understand the indigenous communities in the areas that African Bush Camps operate in, and see how their tourism dollar empowered the locals. He proved his commitment to experiential travel when, together with his wife and partner, Sophia, he formed the African Bush Camps Foundation. The Foundation runs a number of community orientated projects which are focused on sustainable tourism development through education, conservation, resource management and community empowerment. Beks believes that that the tourism dollar needs to have a trickle-down effect and that the communities in the areas where African Bush Camps operate benefit positively from tourism.

Beks, who has been involved in the tourism industry since the age of 18, has realised his vision of delivering on the guest experience through personalized guiding and hosting. He has grown the African Bush Camps portfolio to incorporate 10 camps between Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia. Today he is not only actively involved in selecting and training the guides who work at his properties but still acts as a private guide himself. Beks believes that camps that are focused on the guest connection, that allow for guests to experience the essence of the privately guided safari and have a keen interest in show-casing and preserving cultures around them is what creates a truly magical safari experience in Africa.

Through African Bush Camps and the African Bush Camps Foundation, Beks became not only a tour operator but a social entrepreneur and he is proving to be one of the most enterprising and inspiring players in the Tourism Industry today, one who continues to promote and influence travel to Africa on a global scale.

Eloise Carr

Editor, Eleven Magazine

Eloise Carr

Editor, Eleven Magazine

Eloise joined Eleven Magazine in 2016 as Editor and Communications Director.

She was born in England in 1985 and grew up in a small village a stone’s throw away from Windsor. The world of art and design has attracted her from a young age and saw her experimenting with fine art, graphics, fashion design, photography, printmaking, textiles, screen-printing, jewellery design and digital media throughout her personal and professional life.

Eloise gained her BA (Hons) Fashion and Textiles degree in 2006 and later moved into the world of interior architecture obtaining a MA (Hons) Interior Design in 2011. She has worked on many diverse projects including collaborations with Tatty Divine, Cole and Son and the London Olympic Games.  

She is a full member of the BSME (British Society of Magazine Editors).

Eloise loves to travel to experience different cultures and sights, which inspires her creativity. In her spare time she enjoys designing at multiple scales, taking far to many photographs, going to the gym and returning home to a healthy dinner of wine and cheese!

Andrea Verenini

Founder, Eleven Magazine

Andrea Verenini

Founder, Eleven Magazine

Andrea founded Eleven Magazine in 2015 and currently works as its Editor in Chief and Creative Director.

He was born in Bologna in 1984 and spent his childhood and teen years growing up in Italy, Hungary, Russia and Austria. At the age of 17 he moved to the UK to pursue his higher education in Architecture.

Andrea holds a BA (Hons) Architecture degree (2006), a Diploma in Architecture (2009), and in 2010 was awarded a fully-funded doctorate studentship, which he successfully completed with a PhD in Architecture and Urban Regeneration in 2014.

His architecture career has seen him active in both research, academia and practice. He has worked for Grimshaw Architects in London and taught at University in both undergraduate and post-graduate levels on subjects ranging from architecture/urban history and theory, sustainable design, emergent architectural trends, modular/movable architecture, responsive dynamic design, and nature-inspired design.

Andrea is a full member of the BSME (British Society of Magazine Editors).

In parallel to Eleven, Andrea works as a freelance designer and architect on experimental projects and international collaborations.

In his spare time Andrea enjoys traveling, photography and (English weather permitting) riding around on his motorcycle avoiding woodland creatures on country lanes.