Architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens raked in several awards at the recent Safari Awards 2018 in recognition of their excellence in design.

Architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens raked in several awards at the recent Safari Awards 2018 in recognition of their excellence in design.

“This year we made it on to The Tatler Travel Awards 2018 list – we snatched up the Treasure Island Award for Miavana – a fitting award, given the island’s mysterious nature. We are thrilled!” say architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens.

Awards and accolades received over the years attest to their remarkable work, with the most recent being 2018 awards:

  • The Tatler Travel Awards 2018Treasure Island Award 2018 – Miavana, Madagascar (Time & Tide)
  • Safari Awards 2018 (Africa):

Best Design:

  • Leobo Observatory Bush Villa; Chinzombo, Zambia (Time & Tide); Vumbura Plains Camp (Botswana Wilderness Safaris)
  • Chongwe River House – (3rd place) Zambia (Tide & Tide)

Best Family Safari Experience:

  • Leobo Observatory Bush Villa

Best Safari Spa/Retreat:

  • Jao Camp (Botswana Wilderness Safari) and Chinzombo, Zambia (Time & Tide)

Most Romantic Safari Property:

  • Chinzombo (Time & Tide)

Best Safari House:

  • Leobo Observatory Bush Villa

One of the firm’s core principles is a shared interest in the process of construction. They specialise in safari lodges, tropical island gateways, luxury hotels and high-end residential projects and their projects are mostly located around South Africa and Africa but started as far as India, Shri Lanka, Congo, and Tanzania.

Over the past 25 years they have developed a hand-crafted haute couture body of work and designed award-winning, eco-tourism lodges in Africa, successfully impressing a contemporary spin onto African architecture with their interpretation of what African style actually is. Their practice is recognised for its revolutionary approach to bush camp building where they combine local materials and techniques with a clean modernist aesthetic, while maintaining principles of holistic design.  They provide turnkey projects for clients -architecture, building, project management and all décor, right down to the last teaspoon.

“Adventure architecture” is how Rech likes to describe their innovative visions, and the cultural mix and communal effort it takes to make them real; their philosophy is based on encompassing the culture, local materials and colours of the environment surrounding a chosen site. Most projects also include the development of skills in local communities, as well as the use of local artisans – they strive to continually use local craftsmanship and know-how in their designs, adhering to their philosophy of ‘design based on nature’.

We meet with the local chief and make a deal for the loan of tribal craftsmen and labourer – it’s a transfer of skills. We learn from the indigenous people and they learn from us. When we move on to new projects the people stay on to maintain the project and create their own”, he explains.

Together they build what they design and have created many award-winning safari houses and lodges throughout Africa; all have received international awards. They also design bespoke handcrafted furniture, lighting fixtures, and architectural hardware for their buildings. These talented architects, both with an innate love for adventure, have had a considerable influence on the evolution of safari lodge design and are famous for the Makalali Private Game Lodge in Hoedspruit (designed almost 20 years ago); the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge; House Westcliff and North Island, Seychelles (where British royals Kate and William honeymooned), amongst many others.

The couple’s prolific portfolio includes:

  • Miavana on Nosy Ankao, Madagascar (Time & Tide) – opened April 2017
  • House Oppenheimer
  • House Dunn
  • Vumbura Plains Camp, Botswana (Wilderness Safaris)
  • King Lewanika Lodge (Norman Carr Safaris – Time + Tide)
  • Chinzombo Safari Camp, Zambia (Norman Carr Safaris’ flagship camp)
  • Angama Mara, Kenya (Steve and Nicky Fitzgerald) – their fifth collaborative project with the Fitzgerald’s (after the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, the Grumeti River Camp, Maji Moto Tented Camp, Tanzania and South Africa’s Makalali Bush Camp North Island, Seychelles (Wilderness Safaris))
  • Leobo Private Reserve‘s award winning ‘Observatory Bush Villa’- arguably one of the most stunning safari house in Africa (international businessman and adventurer Rory Sweet and his wife Liz)
  • The Dalrymple Pavilion, – shortlisted in the House category 2011 World Architecture Festival Awards, with its purist Modern aesthetic and traditional architectural elements
  • Randlords
  • Mombo Camp (2000) Okavango Delta, Botswana – Wilderness Safaris’ flagship camp in the Delta
  • Jao Camp (1999), Okavango Delta, (Botswana Wilderness Safari) – the Tree House (commissioned by Kingsley Mogalakwe and Dave and Cathy Kays) – the concept suggests a ‘civilised visit to tribal Africa and the old-fashioned safari’
  • Casa Silvio & Lesley (1999-2002), Westcliff, Johannesburg, South Africa (private house)
  • North Island, Seychelles (1998-2008) (2016 – 2018)
  • Lake Manyara Tented Camp (1997) Tanzania – Conservation Corporation Africa (CCA)
  • Grumeti River Bush Camp (1997) Tanzania – Conservation Corporation Africa (CCA)
  • Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania (1994) – Conservation Corporation Africa (CCA)
  • Makalali Bush Camp (1996), South Africa
  • Lutopi Bush Camp (1994) South Africa

Other awards garnered over the years include a place at the World Architectural Awards and voted the best Safari House in Africa in the 2014 Safari Awards Designer for Observatory Bush Villa; two competitions for their work on Jao and Mombo (Wilderness Safaris camps in the Okavango Delta); VISI Designers of the Year (2011) – Randlords Rooftop Bar; winner of the Most Innovative Hotel Design of the Year – Tatler Travel for Makalali Bush Camp; runner-up award in Villa Category – 2012 World Architecture Festival for Waterberg Observatory; shortlisted in Villa category – 2011 World Architecture Festival and Designer of the Year 2011  Visi Magazine  for  Rammed-Earth Pavilion; Most Consistently Brilliant Hotel – 2008 Tatler Magazine and no.1 in the World, “Best of the Best” – 2006 Conde Nast Traveller for North Island, and the Hideaway of the Year 2005 award – world’s most beautiful hotels and destinations for North Island, Seychelles (Wilderness Safaris).

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