Jenny has shared her experience in Namibia and talks through her design process:
Our client for this project, Mark Dawe, had a big piece of land in the Aris Mountains (Namibia) which he divided into hectare plots – an Eco Estate. He also was considering building a game lodge of sorts and we did a presentation for him (see Look and Feel Presentation below). He then decided to build his own house rather – which is on the crest of the Eco Estate. I flew up for a long weekend of planning.
It is always rather daunting facing an empty piece of unspoilt bush – planning on “spoiling” it with some buildings. Mark and I paced his property up and down turning over important rocks, finding one of the most important “trees” which became the entry forecourt tree and climbing up and down the rocky outcrops. Eyeballing views and smelling the earth. Namibia has such incredibly moody skies and its transfixing to just stand and watch the cloud shadows creep, whirl or drift over the landscape. Mark has his own small plane and we also did a bit of flying. Many of the other houses on the estate were ‘framing’ views but I said never – not on this piece of land – here, we need the building to step out of the way. Which it does.
I told Mark that the land tells you about the best place to build – where it does not mind being disturbed and where it invites you to share. You have to feel it. Its not conscious. We walked more and paced more and then I sketched my feelings and interpretation of Marks brief. We got out tape measures and paced and set out with piles of rocks to represent the corners. Much later on when he was ready to build I came back up to check the setting out and orientation before they started digging. We both made some adjustments and moved the piles of rocks and string around until it was perfect. The closeness of the first sketch to what we built still surprises me (see Windhoek Sketches and Windhoek Drawings below). This house and site is a special place.
Look and Feel Presentation for Windhoek