Lindy RoySouth African (Cape Town, South Africa, 1963)
Okavango Delta Spa, Botswana. View of guest pod at sunset
Commissioned by the private safari company Uncharted Africa, the Okavango Delta Spa was designed for a site deep within Northern Botswana's Okavango River Delta, a stretch of water in the otherwise arid Kalahari Desert. Accessible only by small aircraft, this holistic health retreat was intended to introduce the comforts of a resort to an extreme natural environment.
Roy's project places seven open-air, thatch-roofed guest accommodations within natural clearings of the site's papyrus beds. Though secured to the delta floor, these plantlike "pods" appear to float like petals on the water's surface; their canopies spiral into the wetlands, offering protection from the elements. A small floating fiberglass unit containing a bathroom is tethered to each lodging, allowing for seasonal variations in the water level.
The guest pods are connected in pairs by a network of buoyant fiberglass-and-wood walkways that are anchored to and wrapped around islands formed from the remains of abandoned termite mounds. Fiber-optic cables are woven into the handrails, lighting the walkways by night. Two larger structures house the health spa and dining pavilion. The design's most unique feature is a crocodile-resistant lap pool, powered with outboard motors so it can be maneuvered through the delta's inlets.