Wind, sand, incredible light, and dryness mark the surrounding of the Shipwreck Lodge in the Skeleton Coast National Park in Namibia. The country in the South of Africa is known for its mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and some tourism.
That is where the local companies Journeys Namibia, Natural Selection, and the late owner of Trip Travel Piet du Plooy came it. They joined forces with the local community around the mouth of the Hoarusib River to launch the project of the Shipwreck Lodge.
The 25-year concession project – meaning that after the period is up all has to be removed – is a 13,000 square foot beauty in the sand. Architect Nina Maritz of Nina Maritz Architects based in Windhoek, the largest city in the country, took on the challenge to design and build a luxury boutique hotel in the sand dunes.
The low-impact boutique hotel is inspired by the frequent shipwrecks of the past on the coast of Namibia’s dangerous Skeleton Coast. The 20-bed property on a USD 2 million budget is predominately a prefabrication project.
The reasons are the lesser environmental impact, the remote location, and the experience for the guests. While the harsh desert is a fascinating landscape and a rich eco-system when observed from the comfort of the Shipwreck Lodge’s living room, it was a challenging ground to build on.
The timber-wood cabins are fixed to poles that are deeply embedded in the sand and will constantly have to be maintained to withstand the harsh conditions. The salt and moisture resistant timbre structures were prefabricated in Windhoek and transported 12 hours to the site. There they were assembled with a brand-new Lignoloc nailing system from Beck using timber nails for the first time under such conditions.
The back-of-the-house components were custom-made shipping containers that came from a place about six hours away. Although the location is very remote and isolated, guests don’t have to deprive themselves of luxuries. The containers have a built-in kitchen, storage, workshop, laundry, water supply, energy system, and a sewer treatment facility.
That leaves the travelers to enjoy the desert, the views of the Atlantic, and the vastness of the land with all of its animals including lions, elephants, giraffe and more to contemplate and enjoy.
Interiors of the solar-powered cabins were designed by Melanie van der Merwe of Women Unleashed with custom-made pieces of furniture and design elements. The asymmetric window shapes of Nina Maritz’ architectural designs add to the illusion of a shipwreck in the desert sand.
Source: photos are courtesy of Shipwreck Lodge, Africanism.net