Planeco01
Author Archives: Planeco01

sossusvlei desert oasis

PlanEco and CC Architects

sossusvlei desert oasis

sossusvlei desert oasis

We were commissioned by Karos to design a luxury 90 bed lodge at Sesriem, 350km southwest of Windhoek. Our brief was simple: design a tented lodge, in keeping with the natural environment, that guests will remember, and wish to return to, without detracting from the beauty of the area.

Our design exposes the visitor to the environment: the tall Naukluft mountains to the east and south, the majestic Namib to the northwest,  the ever changing colours that makes this on of the most photographed natural environments in the world.

Elements reminiscent of other deserts in Africa were incorporated – the mud houses of Morocco and the tented camps of the nomadic tribes such as the Berbers and Bedouins. These were combined using the thermal properties of each to the fullest. The bathrooms are cavity wall brick structures with small windows, which will retain the heat of the sun and transmit it inwards in the cold winter nights.  The bedrooms are custom-made canvas structures with a 180° view over the desert that cools down quickly in the summer once the sun has set. The east facing walls of the bedrooms are higher than the western walls to protect the visitor from the winter dust storms caused by strong winds blowing from the top of the Naukluft mountains, with wind speeds of up to 120km per hour.

The design concept, being unique, made this a demanding and rewarding project. The client should be commended for proceeding with an experimental idea for a commercial venture in an endeaver to make it one of the very few ‘eco-tourism’ developments in Namibia.

Client: Netgro (Namib Etosha Tourism Group) & Karos Hotels

PlanEco and CC Architects

sossusvlei desert camp

PlanEco and CC Architects

sossusvlei desert camp






sossusvlei desert camp

The Sossusvlei Lodge – which opened its doors in 1994 – was doing so well that its owner, Taleni Africa, decided 10 years later to develop another lodge nearby. This was to be a self-catering lodge with a central pool and bar, and two kitchen/dining areas that people travelling together can book for a group get-together. There are 20 units in total.

The lodge was built using Spaceframe (3-dimensional wire framework panels with polyurethane insulation in the middle) and custom-made canvas tents, suspended from SA Pine pole frameworks. The advantage of using this patented building system is that all the panels for building the complete lodge could be taken to site on two trucks, versus the transport of many trucks laden with heavy bricks. Furthermore, the walls (which offer the same thermal and acoustical insulation as normal brick walls) do not store solar heat during the day, making for cool interiors at night.

The wall and shadenet colours blend in with the surrounding desert scape, looking up to the Naukluft Mountains on the east of the Namib gravel plains.


PlanEco and CC Architects

marakele national park

PlanEco and CC Architects

​marakele national park facilities

​marakele national park facilities

Situated in the transitional zone between the dry western and moister eastern regions of South Africa, the Tswana name of this Park is fitting: Marakele means “sanctuary” and has become home to many wildlife species over the years.

At the time that the development took place; the intention was to not have any “conventional” restcamps in the Park. A tented lodge (called Tlopi) was built overlooking the Apiesrivierpoortdam, as a first phase.

The campsite and entrance gate facilities were therefore designed to have a “canvas character”. Combined with lightweight concrete flat roofs, the canvas roofs over passages and public areas hinted at the non-conventional facilities envisaged for the Park. The massive canvas roof over the entrance road would have posed a problem in heavy winds – more than half the surface area thereof was made of shade netting (which lets wind pass through), reflecting the silhouette of the Waterberg mountains behind it.


PlanEco and CC Architects

richtersveld national park wilderness camps

PlanEco and CC Architects

richtersveld transfrontier park wilderness camps


!Ais!Ais/richtersveld national park wilderness camps

Also called South Africa’s “mountain desert”, this arid Park is home to the Nama people. Traditionally pastoralists, they followed the rain with their herds of goat and sheep staying in igloo-like huts made of Wag-n-bietjie saplings. The framework of these huts is covered with “biesiematjies” when they are used, and remained behind when they moved on.

This age-old way of roofing inspired the design of the tourism facilities developed in the Park. Various interpretations thereof made for interesting structures. To make the mats waterproof (for the rare times that rain fell in this desert) they were painted with a waterproofing paint or covered with canvas.

Walls were either dry stack stone or reeds from the Gariep River, with a double layer being used with shade netting in between the layers. This keeps out insects and breaks the speed of the cold winter winds.

PlanEco and CC Architects

kgalagadi transfrontier park wilderness camps

PlanEco and CC Architects

​kgalagadi ​​TP wilderness camps

kgalagadi transfrontier park wilderness camps

The Kalahari Gemsbok Park and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana were united to create the first functional Transfrontier Park 20 years ago. Mostly Kalahari sandveld, two rivers run through it, the Auob and the Nossob, which only flows during exceptionally wet seasons.

SANParks decided to diversify its tourism offering in 1999 by introducing wilderness camps. These 8 bed, unfenced camps looked after by an on-site ranger, became extremely popular and visitors now need to book a year in advance. They are placed in different biomes of the Park: Urikaruus is in the Auob riverbed (and therefore lifted off the ground to not hinder animal movement and safeguard guests); Gharagab overlooks the well-treed dunes of the north-western part of the Park; Grootkolk adjoins a pan adjacent to the Nossob River; Bitterpan overlooks a saltpan in the middleveld between the two rivers and Kieliekrankie is built into the top of a dune. The architectural styles of these camps are therefore all different, each one shaped to suit its particular environment.

PlanEco and CC Architects

kgalagadi transfrontier park tented camps

PlanEco and CC Architects

kgalagadi transfrontier park tented camps

kgalagadi transfrontier park wilderness camps

The Kalahari Gemsbok Park and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana were united to create the first functional Transfrontier Park 20 years ago. Mostly Kalahari sandveld, two rivers run through it, the Auob and the Nossob, which only flows during exceptionally wet seasons.

SANParks decided to diversify its tourism offering in 1999 by introducing wilderness camps. These 8 bed, unfenced camps looked after by an on-site ranger, became extremely popular and visitors now need to book a year in advance. They are placed in different biomes of the Park: Urikaruus is in the Auob riverbed (and therefore lifted off the ground to not hinder animal movement and safeguard guests); Gharagab overlooks the well-treed dunes of the north-western part of the Park; Grootkolk adjoins a pan adjacent to the Nossob River; Bitterpan overlooks a saltpan in the middleveld between the two rivers and Kieliekrankie is built into the top of a dune. The architectural styles of these camps are therefore all different, each one shaped to suit its particular environment.

PlanEco and CC Architects

reunion island tourism facilities

Reunion Island Tourism Facilities
PlanEco and CC Architects

reunion island eden resort

Reunion Island Eden Resort

The team 

This team consists of a unique combination of skills, all from the south of the globe that have developed very specific environmental and landscape awareness and skills to deal with developments that depend on nature as a core part of the product: ap architectures- Reunion based specialists on tropical Architecture and sustainable landscapes and slope management with a highly admired body of work in Reunion’s very specific climate and landscape.

C&C (PlanEco) - architecture without boundaries – South African based specialists in ecotourism and nature based developments in most of Southern Africa’s nature reserves as well as Culture and Nature based advisory services to international tourism destinations.

Their combined proven experience in these tourism-critical aspects has led to specific site based response to the brief. Their hands-on experience in engaging directly with the context, both environmental and cultural as well as the target market has led to the proposed concepts as a first response to the design challenge posed.

The project posed some extreme challenges with a specific list of requirements and high density on a steep “unfriendly” site away from the sea. At the same time the clearly expressed dream and wish of the client to be first whilst being responsible and sustainable, clearly resonated with this teams’ members, who all love working in nature.

Unique experience

This proposal exploits the location to its maximum providing an elevated, unimpeded view to the wide expanse of the ocean with more intimate and detailed glimpses of the village life internally. This will be greatly enhanced with dense re-forestation with the indigenous dry forest vegetation thus returning the slopes to the lush green cirques and ravines Reunion is world famous for.

To achieve this a different approach to vehicular access and zoning was taken:

  • Safe and secure access directly into the existing village and to the new main boulevard of St Giles.
  • Cars and main access is hidden from sight under a projecting water boulevard – built as a long “infinity” pool dropping into the ocean.
  • Vehicles will be hidden from view (and in the shade below)
  • We propose to remove the dangerous curved road in the south by elevating it over the link to the eco-park and expansion to the south of the road. This will also have the advantage of access to the two hills to the south, which will form a unique and dramatic view point destination overlooking the botanical gardens and eco-park to its north – ideal for sundowners and an outdoor night time entertainment zone.
  • The accommodation will appear settled in the forest landscape and will be surrounded with greenery.
  • Variety and cultural diversity is brought in through the different but related modern interpretations of tropical Island veranda houses, all linked via a new access “river boulevard” floating above the new access road 
  • Diverse but sustainable and characteristic materials will be used throughout; wood, stone, cooling, textured surfaces and open decks with shaded pergolas and outdoor patios to ensure a tropical lifestyle is available to the guests. 
  • Even the way tourists travel across the site needs to be diverse, via water channels on tubes, zip-lines and funicular as well as shaded pathways for pedestrians , cyclists and alternative electronic transport like skateboards and Sedgeway two-wheelers.

The project’s wow depends on integration of natural beauty with architectural expertise, the dramatic way you arrive at the resort - from below in a shaded driveway, thus saving the stunning views for their arrival at the centre-ville without any impediment of the ocean view over the infinity edge. Lastly the proposal of the indigenous landscape married to modern climate-responsive tropical structures will complete the dream of promoting a sense of well-being, détente and relaxation combined with healthy activity, both for Reunionnais and foreign visitors

PlanEco and CC Architects

vlakhoek wildlife estate

Vlakhoek Wildlife Estate
PlanEco and CC Architects

vlakhoek wildlife estate

Vlakhoek Wildlife Estate

The brief was to prepare an architectural language for a unique wildlife estate in the Rustenburg area. The site slopes towards the south, so all buildings and roofs are designed to be as un-intrusive as possible. A cut and fill approach was used, with a combination of sloped roofs and green roofs, allowing the landscape to engulf the structures and soften the visual impact.

PlanEco and CC Architects