• Jaco Studio

Redesign Proposal for Serra Cafema Lodge

Updated: Aug 30, 2019

Project: Serra Cafema Lodge

Location: Extremely remote part of Northern Namibia, Kaokoland District

Collaboration: DLH Namibia

Project timeline: Oct - Dec 2016

Serra Cafema is a luxury wilderness lodge and safari retreat located on the Namibian side of the Kunene River, opposite Angola.

Serra Cafema safari lodge - architectural design
A render of one of the proposed tent designs

It is a stunning lodge with beautiful spaces which ingeniously integrate with the natural setting. The buildings weave through the reeds along the riverbank, providing intimate spaces throughout.

Safari lodge design
Photo taken from the river, of an existing tent unit tucked between the natural vegetation along the riverbank.

The region has an extreme desert climate and it is exceptionally difficult to reach this location. In fact, this lodge is featured as one of the most remote lodge facilities in the southern hemisphere of the African continent.

Safari lodge - building designs

The problem


Every few years the Kunene River level rises dramatically due to rains in the Angolan highlands. When this occurs, Serra Cafema camp is brought to a halt as the river rises, flooding all areas of the facility.

After flooding twice within 10 years, solutions needed to be explored. This brought about a competition which welcomed design proposals for what the lodge could do to resolve the problem.


Jaco Studio collaborated with DLH on this project and was part of the final 3 candidates with this design proposal.


We were flown to the site to do a final investigation and site analysis, before preparation of the design proposal.

Building redesign ideas - Safari lodge design
Photograph of Jaco and the ladies from DLH, alongside two traditional Himba woman at their hut. The Himba tribe is only found in this remote part of the Namibian desert.

Building plans for safari lodge redesign
Aerial view of the main building and all the services, imitating the fragmented layout of the surrounding natural elements, with extensive pockets of space separating private from public.

The solution


The proposal included the relocation of the lodge above the 100year flood line.

This would be the most expensive option but would provide a permanent solution to the recurring problem.


The main building


3D architectural design for safari lodge - Serra Cafema
3D View of the main building.

Key design features:


  • Fluid layout and spatial integration between private and public spaces

  • Extensive views in all directions from the relaxation areas

  • Secluded back of house functions

  • Contrasting play between solid and shade elements

  • Large shaded areas, with double layer canvas skins to accommodate air flow

  • Water bodies tucked near the internal spaces to cool surrounding air

3D architectural design for safari lodge - Serra Cafema
Diagrammatic floor layout, highlighting several primary design elements.

3D architectural design for safari lodge - Serra Cafema
3D Render of the main building tucked into the existing boulder edge, blending into the surroundings through the mixture of scale, shape, massing and texture.

Architectural Design of The Rooms


3D architectural design for safari lodge - Serra Cafema
3D Diagram of the suite layout, with the canvas roofing removed to reveal the lower layers and structures.

Key design features


  • Absolute privacy for the visitor

  • Uninterrupted views towards the river and the Angolan mountains

  • Luxurious places to relax

  • Provision of all basic services and requirements for 5star accommodation

  • Low energy systems and technologies

  • Waterbody close to the interior spaces

  • Elements of fire at opposite sides of each unit

  • Using natural stone, sand and clay as thermal massing elements to regulate internal temperatures

  • Insect control through custom made curtains and netting

  • High end furniture and interior details


3D architectural design for safari lodge - Serra Cafema
Render of uninterrupted views from the bedroom, over the pond, towards the Angolan mountains

Jaco Studio – Unique Architectural Designs


Alas, our team was not appointed to do the renovation. In the end our proposal was too expensive.


However, it did give us the opportunity to travel to the most remote parts of Namibia, meet innovative developers, collaborate with specialist suppliers, compete against very talented firms, and confirm our position among the highest level of specialist designers in Southern Africa.



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