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PEMBI Conservation Area Mozambique. Rugged indigenous architecture meets precision contemporary architecture with minimum intervention in the environment almost echoing the concept that drives the PEMBI conservation initiative. The remoteness of the sites posed a particular challenge and the design principle should combine the expectation of a formal dwelling at a certain luxury standard, with elements of indigenous structures that can be constructed by local labor.


Each structure must be self-sustainable with regards to the electrical supply (solar panels), groundwater supply, gray water treatment and septic tank sewage treatment systems. Apart from airstrips and access roads, no services reticulation would be provided to these sites.

The structures should touch the ground lightly with access walkways and main structures floating on the natural topography and can be disassembled and removed from the site at any point, leaving possibly only the interred foundations.


The structures are pre-manufactured at an off-site location from 6 meters and 12-meter shipping containers, transported to, and assembled on site. The traditional wooden pole structures are constructed on-site as screens and patio coverings, using local palm tree branches for the roof. The top part of which houses the (almost concealed) solar panels, overhanging the main structure, creating a service space enclosed with louver panels for ventilation and allowing accessibility.


Walling that is not cladded with wood externally and well-insulated against the hot and mostly humid climate, will consist of large, openable glass panels to dispel the boundary between internal spaces and the vast African surroundings, also allowing for maximum airflow.

To protect against tropical downpours as well as the harsh African sun, proper overhangs are provided with stackable wooden louver screens, subtlety cladded inside with an insect repellent screen, doubling up as a security barrier.

Two different layout configurations provide for varying accommodation requirements. Contrary to basic architectural design principles, the design must fit any topography from a flat savannah plains site, a rocky outcrop, a Miombo forest, a riverine setting or a mountain retreat. The surroundings are left untouched, providing each site with a unique indigenous landscape. The architecture must be subservient to the topography and respect nature but not be an unassertive architectural statement.