Between the metallic-hued Namib Sand Sea and the Naukluft mountains is the 24 000-ha Namib-Tsaris, a conservancy created by landscape conservationist Swen Bachran, who started rewilding this extraordinary world more than a decade ago. For Bachran, the restoration of Namibia’s land to its pristine original state was a lifelong dream, and he was determined to build a home that would not detract in any way from this painterly landscape. On a camping trip accompanied by friend and artist Porky Hefer, Bachran discovered a small plateau dotted with acacias in a protected cleft at the base of a rocky outcrop, and here they decided to build what would become one of the continent’s most iconic structures.
Inspired by the elaborate nests built by social weavers – found on the conservancy – the original idea was conceived by Hefer, whose nest-like furniture pieces had won critical acclaim. Hefer drew a structure with a series of dome-like roofs; organically curved walls that coved into ceilings, with circular windows popped through. Architects said it was impossible. Bachran believed it was. But aside from the construction challenges, there was the remoteness of the location, the heat, the total lack of infrastructure. While Hefer refined his drawings (and continued to build his reputation, representing South Africa at the inaugural London Design Biennale in 2016, followed by a solo exhibition at R & Company in New York in 2017), Bachran built a road and started sourcing local materials, and local welders, weavers and joiners. Together they spent five years giving three-dimensional shape to Hefer’s hand-drawn sketches. Maybe Corpaci, the designer tasked with finishing the interiors, wanted to augment the organic soft curves and tactile structure with pieces that felt lived in and comfortable; with found objects created by a collector rather than a decorator.
Like the sociable weaver their collaborative efforts have created a house that is as remarkable as the landscape as it sits in, beautiful to behold, and the ultimate luxury to live in.