Located on the banks of the Sabie River, a demonstration tourist accommodation unit is being planned for construction in the Kruger National Park on the footprint of an existing dilapidated timber structure. The “Tree House” Eco Lodge aims to showcase robust, optimised geometry-based design coupled with low-carbon building materials. This will result in a significant reduction in the use of both steel and cement for construction. The use of low-tech, labour-intensive, context appropriate construction methodologies will result in skills development and job creation opportunities (with an emphasis on gender neutral construction activities) for local communities.
Locally harvested invasive alien plants and the existing timber structure will be mechanically chipped and used as alternative aggregate to sand and stone, along with a low-cement binder. While the fittings and finishes of this demonstration unit will target the high-end tourism market, the optimised fabrication process and the resource-efficient construction system will ensure that the overall construction costs remain competitive with current housing alternatives. The design and construction of the “Tree House” Eco Lodge aims to demonstrate the research, innovation and development of safer, more dignified, affordable and sustainable housing opportunities. Underpinning the design ethic is the notion that “everyone is good enough for good design.”
The design, planning and construction of this demonstrator is undertaken in partnership between the Block Research Group (BRG) of ETH Zurich, South Africa Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), South African National Parks (SANParks) and nonCrete.