w design incorporates a luxurious glass suite in the heart of the South African wilderness reserve

‘Where man and mountain meet’ is a lodge by architecture studio w design in the welgevonden game reserve, part of the waterberg biosphere in limpopo province in south africa, one the first most accessible malaria-free wilderness reserves in the country. the reserve is home to the ‘big five’ and over 130 different mammal species and is best known for its fascinating and rare ancient rock formations and layers of sandstone ridges and ravines. this lodge is one of five new luxury suites at 57 waterberg, an existing private play lodge originally built in the 1990s and renovated in 2019 to include an extension, upgraded main living room, new chef’s kitchen extended, a laundry room and various other auxiliary functions.

DOOK images for VISI
the sleek horizontal plans blend seamlessly into the surrounding landscape, providing visitors with an understated and personal haven in the heart of the bushveld

w design architecture studio imagined a “new dawn” where buildings become secondary to the customer experience – a place where the landscape and the natural environment come first. The conceptual idea of ​​this project was based on the creation of a space that celebrates the context, one that appears as if it were the refinement and revelation of the earth. the design focused on creating a place that would allow “man” to meet the mountain. beyond the rational and functional design, this project aims to trigger and facilitate an emotional or spiritual awakening to the African landscape.

w design incorporates a luxurious glass suite in the heart of the South African wilderness reserve
the seemingly solid mass transforms into a light floating structure of steel, glass and wood allowing nature to take center stage

these new structures are not made to be looked at, but to be hijacked. more than anything, these spaces are sheltered observation platforms. the emphasis is on the overwhelming presence of mountain layers, natural bushveld and endless open space. the design and execution of the project was driven by an extremely short construction period of just 14 weeks – this, coupled with the remote location, led to the unique approach of insulating every element of the building to not only allow off-site manufacturing, but mostly concurrent processes.

w design incorporates a luxurious glass suite in the heart of the South African wilderness reserve
the family unit consists of two rooms back to back and blend discreetly into the unique landscape

Architecture studio w design’s entire construction process was based on separating all the different trades and planning for pre-fabrication and on-site assembly – connecting and complementing each other like a complex three-dimensional puzzle. all building elements and components were designed and planned as “one-off and unfinished” – an approach which ensured the most straightforward and honest construction. the main building material is mild steel I-beams, which serve as the skeleton and form the “backbone” to which all other building components attach. secondary materials include cast-in-place reinforced concrete for “floating” roofs, wood decking for floors, ceilings and terraces, aluminum and glass for storefronts.

w design incorporates a luxurious glass suite in the heart of the South African wilderness reserve
installing the saltwater pool was a stroke of genius, as the new amenities are clearly loved by locals and guests alike – and the highlight of everyone’s stay at 57 waterberg

the furniture, entirely made to measure, is based on the principle of pairing. along with the various lightweight, prefabricated and imported building elements, the crucial building block that facilitates the “grounding” of the constructed structures are the barrier walls clad in native stone, a material that transcends our human timescale. The design of wa makes these structures surround the mostly open rooms and counterbalance the “light” construction with its “heavy” form – almost as if the rocks scattered across the landscape are simply being pulled together and put together.

w design incorporates a luxurious glass suite in the heart of the South African wilderness reserve
meticulous attention has been given to the overall layout of the lodge master plan, with the exact position of each new guest suite carefully selected for its unique natural beauty

w design incorporates a luxurious glass suite in the heart of the South African wilderness reserve
the walkways, slightly raised above the landscape, guide guests to their rooms, which are a refined version of the rocky outcrops dotted around the reserve

where man and mountain meet 7
interior finishes in natural wood and stone draw inspiration from the exterior palette, blending the boundaries between interior and exterior

where man and mountain meet 8
breathing in the fresh mountain air and floating lightly above the native vegetation, all rooms have their own wooden decks and private plunge pools

w design incorporates a luxurious glass suite in the heart of the South African wilderness reserve
the striking black vanity unit with its steel frame and precast black concrete countertops has been designed to be assembled in a plug-and-play fashion, simplifying the on-site construction process

w design incorporates a luxurious glass suite in the heart of the South African wilderness reserve
the casual sofa and plush rug create a cozy spot to watch the sunset snuggled up next to the fireplace

where man and mountain meet 12
more than anything, these spaces are sheltered observation platforms. the focus is on the overwhelming presence of mountain layers, natural bushveld and endless open space

where man and mountain meet 3
concept sketch – the idea of ​​a “sheltered platform”

project info:

Last name: 57 WATERBERG – where man and mountain meet

designate: w design architecture studio

location: Welgevonden game reserve, vaalwater, limpopo, south africa

photography: DOOK for VISI

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

edited by: yasmina karam | design boom


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