ARRCC and Cheetah Plains

We’re thrilled to have the iconic architecture and design trio SAOTA, ARRCC and OKHA back again to create this year’s Architect’s Gallery. This time they’ll be using technology to totally immerse visitors in various exciting architectural projects. We chat to ARRCC’s Jon Case about their recent interior design project, Cheetah Plains.

How have you incorporated nature into the design of Cheetah Plains? 

The architectural elements of the building have been inspired through nature. A unique sense of place is carried through in the abundant use of locally sourced natural materials and bespoke designs handmade by local artisans. Nature also acted as our reference throughout the creation of the interior design pieces, in tone, colour, material and form, these items were then crafted and shaped by hand, there was no reference or reliance upon mass production, machined goods.

Could you tell us something about the materials used in the construction of the architecture?

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.

We worked with many natural and often raw materials that will age and deepen in character over time. These materials reflect the natural surrounds and authentic primal beauty of the location.

Did you have the same approach to the interiors?

Indeed. Often the shapes and forms of the furniture designs and décor items would be dictated by the material we were working with, i.e. massive, solid tree stumps and raw timber, we followed and adhered to the organic forms of these source materials.

Where we created our own forms and shapes, for example there are raw steel coffee tables in the main lounge, these shapes are fluid and organic as if eroded by the rivers waters, they echo eroded forms of rock and stone.

Nature acted as our reference throughout the creation of the design pieces, in tone, colour, material and form, these items were then crafted and shaped by hand, there was no reference or reliance upon mass production, machined goods.

Can you tell me why you chose to reference the Acacia thorns in the architecture? What is particularly special about them?

The Acacia tree is indigenous to Southern Africa, ubiquitous and easily recognizable by its rounded crown and twin thorns – an iconic feature within the South African bushveld. The shape formed by the merging of the twin thorns was the inspiration behind the feature walls of Cheetah Plains, paying homage to the natural beauty of the lodge’s surroundings. The walls are clad in concrete and rough stone to mimic the same neutral colouring of the thorns, enhancing the experience of the outdoors and immersing guests within the environment.

Why is the lodge called Cheetah Plains? Do Cheetah’s roam the area and are you ever likely to encounter them?

Cheetah Plains is named after a flat, open plain area within the Sabi Sand reserve which is known as and referred to as Cheetah Plains - the area where Cheetah prefer to roam. Cheetah roam freely within the Sabi Sand Reserve on the large open plains – an ideal hunting location for them given the easy access to prey.

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