Tembo Tembo Lodge Seamlessly Blends with the South African Game Reserve Landscape

tembo tembo lodge interiors rammed earth south africa studio asai

Nestled amid the breathtaking South African wilderness within the sprawling Kruger National Park, Tembo Tembo Lodge represents a harmonious integration of nature and architecture. Designed by the renowned architecture practice Studio Asaï, this stunning family lodge captivates visitors with its rammed earth walls and an organic color scheme that allow it to seamlessly blend into its surroundings.

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A Natural Haven:

Tembo Tembo Lodge is strategically situated along the Sabie River on the western edge of the renowned Kruger National Park, a vast game reserve teeming with an array of flora and fauna. Known for being home to the iconic “big five” wildlife – lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalos – the park’s enchanting landscape served as the primary inspiration for the Paris-based Studio Asaï.

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Rammed Earth Wonders:

Studio Asaï decided to construct Tembo Tembo Lodge using rammed earth, an eco-friendly choice that mirrors the materiality of the towering termite nests found throughout the reserve. This choice was a departure from the local convention, where rammed earth is typically used decoratively for singular walls. However, for Tembo Tembo Lodge, it became the primary construction material throughout the house.

A Collaborative Endeavor:

To ensure the structural stability of this unique lodge, Studio Asaï collaborated with local architect Nicholas Plewman. Together, they developed a robust structural skeleton that could support the rammed earth walls and the roof. Locally sourced rammed earth was meticulously applied to the structure and sealed to prevent porosity and crumbling.

Resilience to Nature:

The lodge was strategically built on an 80-centimeter-high concrete platform. This not only protects the structure from lizards and other wildlife but also mitigates the risk of flooding during the heavy downpours common in the region from September onward. Furthermore, the flat steel roof design contributes to the lodge’s unobtrusive profile in the natural landscape.

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The Inviting Interior:

Upon entering Tembo Tembo Lodge, visitors are greeted by a moody and elegant interior with dark wood paneling. A delicate three-tier pendant light gracefully hangs above a white marble table, creating a captivating centerpiece. The rammed earth walls are left exposed in the adjacent living area, anchored by a modular green sofa that pays homage to the South African bush’s lush foliage.

The Heart of the Home:

Adjacent to the living area is a contemporary kitchen, featuring dark wood cabinetry and a breakfast island crafted from black Zimbabwean granite. A travertine marble dining table, surrounded by woven-seated chairs, is strategically placed next to a sliding glass panel that leads to a shaded terrace, providing an ideal spot for enjoying the natural surroundings.

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A Place of Knowledge and Tranquility:

The library at Tembo Tembo Lodge features creamy plaster walls and a coffered ceiling, evoking an atmosphere of rustic elegance. Studio Asaï thoughtfully incorporated the “bush” green theme into a glossy work desk, creating a cozy and inspiring workspace.

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Elegance in Slumber:

The principal bedroom is designed to emulate a “modern safari camp” and features a large bed enclosed with gauzy curtains on all sides, providing an intimate and tranquil sleeping experience. In the guest bedroom, the rammed earth walls remain exposed, and a black metal fireplace adds warmth and comfort for cooler months.

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A Spa-Like Retreat:

Tembo Tembo Lodge also boasts a striking bathroom almost entirely lined with exquisite flecked Namibian stone, creating a serene and spa-like ambiance.

An Award-Worthy Creation:

The exceptional design of Tembo Tembo Lodge has earned it a place on the shortlist for the home interior category at this year’s Dezeen Awards. It will compete against other remarkable projects, such as Prior Barraclough’s Union Street House, entirely lined in Australian hardwood, and Keiji Ashizawa Design’s Hiroo Residence, adorned with muted tones to amplify the sense of light within the space.

Photography for this project is credited to Adrien Dirand.

Project Credits:

  • Interior Design and Architecture: Studio Asaï
  • Architecture: Nick Plewman Architects
  • Landscape Design: Green Inc

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