Cheetah Plains

Cheetah Plains

Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park, South Africa | View Map
Stories By

Adam Letch

Cheetah Plains

ARRCC as Architecture and Interior Decor

Cheetah Plains is a new Game Lodge designed by ARRCC located in the Sabi Sand, South Africa, a wildlife sanctuary bordering the Kruger National Park. The clients chose to pursue a different offering for the market; by avoiding the typical typology of creating a central communal space surrounded by bedroom suites, the accommodation is split into three separate, private components referred to as the “Plains Houses.”


The Plains Houses are made up of clusters of free-standing buildings carefully arranged to accommodate existing natural features such as trees, typography and views – thereby minimising intrusion into the landscape. Over time, nature will further soften and absorb the sculptural masses into their environment.


Each house is comprised of a main communal living building surrounded by four-bedroom suites. The living facilities include a private arrival courtyard with covered waiting canopies, an expansive open plan Lounge, Dining and Bar space with adjoining air-conditioned Wine Room, a more private Family Room, outdoor boma area, expansive terrace and heated pool. Across from the pool a sculptural raw steel Pool Pavilion, inspired by the canopy of the local Tamboti tree, perches over the bush. Each house is also equipped with its own commercial kitchen with dedicated Chef and culinary team.


The bedroom suites are standalone structures, with generous open plan Lounge and Bedroom spaces, guest toilet, and a walk-in Dressing Room. Opening directly to the outdoors the Bathroom offers the thrilling experience of bathing in the bush.


The design of the Plains Houses pursues an audacious new Afro-minimalism. It does not mimic the outdoors but, through a play of natural/organic against man-made/angular, the architecture contrasts with and thereby complements the environment. Robust off-shutter concrete and rough stone walls ground the buildings into the landscape whilst expansive cantilevered roof structures float over the bush allowing for views to remain uninterrupted in all directions. The materials are resilient, allowing themselves to be shaped and aged by the environment and by time.


Taken as an architectural signature, the “spline” - a form which appears in nature - is expressed externally and internally from in the stone Boma, the concrete Fireplace walls and the black steel cladding to the fireplaces themselves. Spatially, the boundaries between indoor and outdoor are blurred to create a seamless experience. Forms and spaces, arranged in series, are kept pure and distinct- resulting in a play of geometry and light.


The Interiors retain this sense of rawness and compliment it with plush and luxurious furniture and fittings. A sense of African-ness, ever-present in the environment, is abstracted into the Interiors and is reflected in the materials, textures, rhythms and forms. Furniture pieces were custom designed by ARRCC and OKHA in collaboration with local craftsmen including amongst others Martin Doller, Colin Rock, Pierre Cronje and Gerrit Giebel. The Dining spaces feature huge organic leadwood tables, surrounded by comfortable leather chairs and dramatic hand-blown cascading glass chandeliers. Each of the houses feature a curation of contemporary African art pieces, sculptures of cheetah and wild dogs (by Gail Catlin).


The project gently pushes the discourse of game lodge architecture freeing it from the clichés and themes too often prevalent in their design.

Cheetah Plains

OKHA as Manufacturers

The biggest safari story in Southern Africa, and why OKHA was the chosen décor supplier
It’s no secret that over the past year OKHA has taken its signature furniture designs from Cape Town to London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York, and now there are also plans to include representation in Asia and the Middle East. When competing with far more established premium furniture brands, why is the architecture and design industry choosing OKHA? A look at some recent work might provide the answer.


OKHA created statement pieces for new luxury safari lodge, Cheetah Plains, which is set in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. They worked in close collaboration with ARRCC (the architects and interior designers) and architect, Stefan Antoni of SAOTA. Stefan reveals that “No matter how good architecture is, it can only succeed when the interior upholds that level of sophistication.” He feels that OKHA is able to “design furniture that upholds and mirrors the beauty of architecture”.


The project consists of three independent bush houses, named Mapogo, Mvula and Karula, each made up of several individual structures which include a central lounge, and dining room with bar area, a family media and entertainment room, a covered terrace, an open boma courtyard and separate freestanding bedroom suites.


ARRCC Director Jon Case who was the lead designer for the project says that he chose to work with OKHA because of their “distinct ability to connect to a deeper narrative. They are rooted in Africa but always have their eye on an international aesthetic that is unique, and they are connected to artists and craftsmen which help to give the furniture a handcrafted feel which was so important to the overall language of Cheetah Plains.” Jon’s favourite pieces from the project are the Laguna coffee table and other bespoke coffee tables which he says, “added weight and solidity to the rooms because they are connected so well to the architectural theme.”


Working on the project over the course of 10 months, OKHA creative director Adam Court says; “We wanted to design pieces that felt like an internal landscape, using materials that have inherent value and beauty which evolve and improve over time in the same way that this process happens organically in the external landscape. We wanted to create works of stature, substance and mass with a direct physical connection to the environment of Cheetah Plains.” Through this process, OKHA experimented with various metals and finishes exploring oxidised, patinated and etched processes on mild steel, brass and copper to create a lustre and depth that resonated with the project brief. Marble and stone were chosen according to grain and colour, and Court explains, “We went for deep rich earth tones, sienna, rust, ochre, copper, that resonated with the African bushveld.”


Fortuitously, the client was able to harvest timber from trees that had fallen naturally in the veld which were put to good use for the monumental five metre long dining tables which anchor the open plan dining area. Court explains “The table legs had to be as robust and statuesque as the tabletop, matching it in scale” To achieve this, OKHA designed a custom table leg that would physically support the one ton tops and be an elegant and appropriate design that was part of the interior narrative.


Each table uses a different wood type with a unique shape, which informed the design and position of the legs. The brass clad table bases are beautifully sculpted scalloped forms that stand at opposing angles allowing the best possible seating positions and spreading the massive weight equally. The shape of the table legs was also replicated in the brass “butterfly” inlays which are recessed into the tabletop. The table is paired with custom Tofu dining chairs, upholstered with a bronze coloured leather seat and back to complement the dining table’s solid brass decals.


More bespoke elements include OKHA’s Nancy barstools in a custom metallic coloured leather, tailored brass footrest and unique wood stain, Nicci armchairs, Barnett dining chairs in a sunflower yellow velvet, Bijou marble side tables in antique brass with Nero Marquina marble tabletop, candleholders made from Iroko wood, circular copper framed mirrors with matching servers and custom life-size totems that create a completely novel atmosphere of a modern and ancient time combined. This ability to design for the environment and the architecture is a valuable contribution from OKHA.


The spaces all have large glass panels that slide away opening the space to the landscape. The effect is electrifying, a front seat to the life, drama and beauty of the bush beyond. OKHA's careful and considered use of materials, in their bespoke designs for Cheetah Plains, heightens and reinforces the visitors’ experience without resorting to clichés. Cheetah Plains was launched in 2018 and has already won Best Game Lodge 2019 at HOSCO, South Africa’s Luxury Tourism Awards, Best Luxury Bush Villa in the world at the 13th Annual World Luxury Hotel Awards, been a finalist at IFI Gap Awards and been longlisted for the Dezeen Awards 2019.

Project Credits
Architecture and Interior Decor
Product Spec Sheet

Product Spec Sheet
DesignInc Adelaide Studio
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DesignInc Adelaide Studio

Adelaide SA, Australia - Build completed in 2020
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