Mjejane Bush Lodge

Situated on the banks of the Crocodile River, the Mjejane Private Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s premier reserves, and the only luxury bush lodge development to have a private bridge over the river connecting it directly to the Kruger National Park.

Positioned on the Kruger’s southern boundary between the Malelane and Crocodile Bridge gates, the reserve boasts 10km’s of spectacular river frontage and is fenced into the Kruger National Park, renowned for its Big 5 game viewing.

Conceptually this luxury bush lodge takes an expressive and avant-garde approach to bush lodge architecture.

The convention of using thatch, which results in routine and monolithic roof dominant architecture, with a singular space that gets divided up below it, was questioned from the beginning of the project. The AOJ team decided rather to use a modern steel construction method for the roof which would free up the way the various spaces in the house could be arranged and designed. Instead of having one large volume to work with they could generate more specific, client centred distributions and arrangements of the building programme within the lodge.

The roof is the leading feature of the design and is shaped in response to the site conditions. The 900m² roof covering has been strategically lifted in some areas to open views over the surrounding bush, tilted down in others to control the harsh African sun and extended outwards along all the eaves to offer additional shading from the sun and protection from severe rainfalls. This climatically responsive approach to architecture ensures that the 450m² of luxury bush lodge interior is comfortable, year round, and results in a smart, yet striking signature piece of architecture which redefines the paradigm of luxury bush lodge architecture.

The lodge is sustainably designed, making use of orientation and passive climatic controls to enhance the users’ comfort, as well as other green technologies, which include heat pumps, solar harvesting and rainwater collection from the large roof structure, which all further reduce the operational carbon footprint of the building.

The layout of the lodge maximises the endless bush views while still ensuring privacy from the neighbouring properties. The generous living and entertainment spaces, located at the bend of the J-shaped plan, are the heart of the lodge and project as one elevated open volume towards to Crocodile River on the northern side of the lodge. This open volume immerses the user into the bush experience, and is further extended outdoors, below a long sweeping roof cantilever, by a generous outdoor boma area. Between the internal living and entertainment spaces, and the boma area, large glass doors slide away to merge the interior and exterior of the lodge seamlessly.

Flanking the heart/centre of the lodge, are five en-suite bedrooms. These bedrooms are all screened off from one another ensuring the users inhabiting them complete privacy, but all the while still offering them uninterrupted views of the bushveld around the lodge. The passage, which connects the four bedrooms on the eastern side of the lodge, has been kept solid on the western side to contain the entrance to the lodge, that along with a 20m long gabeon stone wall, which screens the service areas, defines a direct line of movement from the driveway to the front door.

In addition to the climate and unspoilt views being the main generators of the design, of this luxury bush lodge, the reserve requires that certain indigenous vegetation needs to be preserved, which further determined the footprint of this luxury bush lodge. A number of plants were earmarked as important and immovable, by a landscaping specialist prior to the design beginning, and have been designed around to eventually be protected by the built form.

• Commendation Award - Mpumalanga Institute of Architects 2017
• Africanism online, A place of rest • Apsaidal, Private Lodge • Building and Décor, January 28, 2019 • SA Building Review, Volume 6, 2018 • Leading Architecture & Design, March 2018 • Concrete Trends, Volume 21 N. 01, February 2018 • AEC Café, January 14, 2018 • Huffpost, January 10, 2018 • Visi, December 14, 2017 • Design Ful, December 13, 2017 • Designboom, December 8, 2017 • A as Architecture, December 6, 2017 • Building Online, December 4, 2017
Mjejane River Lodge, Mpumalanga