Project Name: Witklipfontein Eco Lodge

Location: Vredefort, Free State, South Africa

Date Completed: December 2018

Architect: Xavier Huyberechts and Damien Huyberechts

Interior Designer: Xavier Huyberechts and Damien Huyberechts

Construction Company: Damien Huyberechts

Developer: Xavier Huyberechts and Damien Huyberechts

Witklipfontein Eco Lodge by GLH Architects embodies modern sustainability, returning to forgotten design and building techniques. A showcase project in the field of green building. The lodge was designed to blend and disappear into the surrounding nature. The ground carpet of the hill has just been lifted a little to slip the house under it. Slipped underneath the lifted ground carpet of the hill, GLH Architects built this house to overlook the plains, with panoramic views that blur the boundaries between the interior and the surrounding nature allowing for a unique bush living experience.

Witklipfontein Eco Lodge is one of the original farms of The Vredefort Dome, a Unesco World Heritage site. The aim was to have GLH Architects rethink the concept of house/lodge afresh by returning to the use of vernacular building techniques that are more respectful of the environment, while re-interpreting them in a modern way. Many of these techniques have been lost to easy and fast cement-based building techniques. The climate in the Free State region with its large thermal daily variance of 20 degrees lends itself to the use of the principle of Thermal Mass instead of mechanical air-conditioning. The thermal mass flattens the temperatures throughout the year by using thick stone walls, earth walls, and the green roof. GLH Architects’ other innovations and unique features include: Almost fully cement-free construction, shutter system regulating heat, recycled granite off-cut floors, subterranean dome, natural pools, waste water treatment plant, solar water heating and photovoltaic electrical production, homemade Swedish paint, scaffolding planks floors and earth and straw plaster.

GLH Architects’ main innovation is the combination of large openable glazing, protective shutters and the heavy thermal mass walls, floors and roof. The raw use of materials brings a warm feeling to the house and re-connects its occupants to nature and the essentials of life. Witklipfontein Eco Lodge aims to embody modern sustainability and is packed with simple and forgotten basic design and building techniques making it a showcase project in the field of green building. The house disappears into and is in full harmony with the surrounding nature, fauna and flora. Innovation aplenty and showcased to spread these sound sustainable principles. The result is a unique home that breathes the surrounding nature and blends into it.