Behind the Design – Luxury and Lunawood in the Heart of South African Nature

Creating a new project is always exciting, but building in the middle of nowhere is something else. Especially when the location is in the heart of the Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa, a place so precious that UNESCO listed Waterberg Biospehere Reserve and its 35,000 hectares of unsurpassed natural beauty on the Wold Heritage List. Our latest video takes you to these stunning landscapes, featuring Fifty Seven Waterberg and luxurious lodges designed by the award-winning W Design architecture studio.

Johan Wenzel, from the W design architecture studio, says the Waterberg mountains and natural bushveld had to be the primary and most important aspect of the design.

“I think we can design or build that will improve upon the natural context so the only way to approach it was how do we slot into that and make the most of it and make sure that any guest or anyone that goes there, will use these buildings, are actually just made aware of the best aspects of the site. And in add to that, are the big five and all the animals.” Johan says.


The villas are built so that the surrounding trees are preserved

The lodges, finished with Lunawood decking, flooring and ceiling, offer a stunning view

The privacy walls built of natural stone blend into nature


Designing in the middle of nowhere

The architects had to think about which materials were suitable for such a project, where valuable nature and long distances are the starting point for everything. The circumstances brought completely new types of surprises along the way.
“We tried to use the materials of the area, natural materials and I think one of our biggest challenges were sometimes the elephants, stopping the trucks and breaking the water pumps. So we had kind of challenges that was not in a normal site which is not kind of a conventional, but it it was quite exciting as well.” says Grete Van As from W design architecture studio.

W design architecture studio chose natural stone as the main materials, which was available in abundance nearby and thus ecological, functional, and visual material, for this project. The other main material was wood.

” I mean obviously the veld is covered with wood. It was really important to bring that in and view that as almost as a refinement of a landscape but it’s still a landscape. And whether that be a philosophical connection to the landscape, you wanna look at the landscape and also refine and make it, sort of saying that that’s tangible and close to someone that be using the room.” Johan explains.

The closeness to nature is strongly felt inside the villa


Functional and sustainable Lunawood Thermowood

When considering and comparing different wood materials, ecology and durability guided strongly architects’ decision-making. Eventually, a solution was found at Lunawood Thermowood, which had already shown its’ reliability in the hot climate of South Africa in various projects.

”Lunawood acts to our climate in a very very good way. The amazing thing outside, the wood actually changes to grey, which is beautiful and becomes very natural and inside it keeps that warm brown feeling, almost like a caramel colour which is also very friendly and just a fantastic colour to work with in the interior. So the Lunawood, the way it has been treated, it’s a fantastic wood ’cause it, longevity of it is fantastic. You can use much cheaper wood but then after few years we have to redo everything so now we got a sustainable product that will last a long time and that is a positive side about it.” Grete says.

Another important aspect in material choices was, of course, bringing natural luxury to villas.

“The guests that are arriving, they are looking for the African experience but with the luxury. So we have to get that contrast about you are in a African landscape but you got the luxury around you and that’s where the Lunawood really ticked all the boxes around that.“ Grete continues.

The magnificence of the end-result is undeniable. The beautiful lodges allow visitors to enjoy the luxury and the surrounding nature – on nature’s own terms.

Behind the Design - 57 Waterberg


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