Architecture & Design
The planning process of the Lodge started some 14 years ago as the local community realised the tourism potential and a means to create an income for them other than subsistence farming and semi gemstone mining. The location is however within a highly environmental sensitive area and the operator appointed various specialist consultants to conduct environmental impact assessment studies. These were all summarized in an Area Management Plan (AMP) which has to be updated every three years in order to obtain a clearance certificate from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Namibia.
ARCHAEOLOGY: The Grosse and Kleine Spitzkoppe mountains are important sites in describing patterns of hunter gatherer settlement and subsistence that occurred in the area until the introduction of livestock during the previous millennium. Evidence is documented at over forty rock-art sites. In addition to their historical significance the cultural and spiritual value of the sites makes the Spitzkoppe an important heritage area for all Namibians.
BIODIVERSITY: The Conservation area lies in an area where Savannah, Nama Karoo and Desert Biomes meet. This results in a high botanical diversity and the Inselberg complex is recognized as an Important Plant Area. It is an area where many of Namibia’s endemic birds can be found, while diversity of reptiles is relatively high.
CLIMATE: Situated on the inland edge of the Namib Desert, the climate of the Spitzkoppe Conservation Area is arid, with a mean annual rainfall of 50mm and a high evaporation rate of 3200mm per annum. Most rainfall occurs between January and April, and with the granite outcrops being impermeable, rainfall runoff collects at the foot of the outcrops creating unique micro-habitats for woody plants to grow in an otherwise arid area. Being further away than 100km inland, the daytime cooling effect of the Atlantic Ocean is lost, causing the maximum daily temperature in summer to reach between 34° and 40°C. Minimum temperatures during night time seldom drop below 10°C.
CHARACTERISTICS: The Spitzkoppe is an iconic granite outcrop, globally known for its natural beauty and archaeological heritage. These assets, along with mountaineering potential, location and interesting fauna and flora result in the area being a popular tourist attraction. The quiet, desolate sense of place and unspoilt landscape add to the attraction.
With above in mind, it was finally agreed to position the Lodge on the northern periphery of the Inselberg. Sensitivity towards wildlife and heritage was paramount in all the design stages of the development.
The 15 chalets and the public areas to be split in two to minimise visual impact and creating an easterly view (sunrise) for the Chalets and a westerly view (sunset) for the Dining area. This also prevents the western late afternoon sun to heat up the Chalets taking into account that 90% of the time the ambient temperature is above 18°C. The elevated floor with open jointed decking enables cool air from underneath to filter through the room and escape through the two layered roof construction. Neither air conditioning, nor heating is possible due to the limited power supply. The use of vast areas of solar panels as well as an overhead power supply line was unacceptable due to the negative visual impact. The 5,5km underground cable supply from the national grid is however the limiting factor again due to distance and feasibility.
The buildings are linked with elevated walkways all constructed to be wheel chair friendly. Limited use of concrete with elevated floors and decks and composite materials for walls, which can be dismantled easily, will enable nature to restore itself in just a few months after deconstruction. The tented roof shapes simulate the surrounding rock formations and soften the square building plan form.
Water, which is unfit for humane consumption is sourced from boreholes on the southern side of the Inselberg and purified with our own reverse osmosis plant. All water at the Lodge is therefore potable and guests are reminded to use it very sparingly.
As an end remark one can mention that very few Namibian tourism establishments will be able to offer the same luxury as the guest’s own home. We however guarantee an intoxicating experience by the ancient landscapes, which delve into the visitor’s spirit. Take time to let your heart, mind and soul take in all that we have to offer and be assured it will never leave you….
Compiled by Ronnie Barnard Architect